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Industry Minister Tony Clement speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Dec. 14, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Industry Minister Tony Clement speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Dec. 14, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Tony Clement denies Potash 'fable' Add to ...

Industry Minister Tony Clement is adamantly refuting a story that appeared Tuesday in the Regina Leader Post that suggests he killed a $39-billion takeover of Potash Corp. by BHP Billiton because polls showed the Conservative would lose seats in Saskatchewan and because a columnist had said the deal would be approved.

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"Having read Murray Mandryk's Potash fable in today's Regina Leader-Post, I seriously question the sources talking to Mr. Mandryk because so much of his innuendo, rumour and mis-information is so far off it really does a disservice to the Canadian public. As the Minister responsible for the Investment Canada Act, I can confirm that I made my decision to reject the proposed BHP Billiton-Potash Corporation transaction was after consultation with Saskatchewan MPs and listening to the position of the government of Saskatchewan, based on the facts of the deal," Mr. Clement said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon.

"It did not in my view represent a net benefit to Canada, and as this company has assets in other parts of our nation, I do mean all of Canada. In the days leading up to my announcement there were some very speculative rumours published in newspapers across Canada. I can tell you that not only are they false, but this was a case of highly irresponsible journalism that affected stock markets around the world. In fact, I encouraged the media to wait until the process had run its course. Some did not, and clearly had the story wrong," he said.

"For the record, once the decision was made it was never changed, just as the procedure with ICA files information was shared only with those who needed to know. At no time was there an eleventh-hour change to protect political interests. Nor was a change precipitated by a 'leak' because the story mentioned was filled with false facts. As many had an interest in this transaction, it is very possible that some veteran journalists, Mr. Mandryk included, actually bought some of the spin as truth."

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