It might be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s surely not unprecedented.
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We need meaningful action to ensure Evraz Steel’s profits no longer flow to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and other oligarchs who supported Vladimir Putin and his war on Ukraine.
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What has so far been proposed by NDP Leader Ryan Meili may not be unachievable. That said, it is undoubtedly better than what was offered by the Saskatchewan Party government which avoided a complicated and difficult situation.
As such, we should not simply reject what the NDP is proposing. It is at least a starting point.
“Do you own it for a while and then unload it? Do you own a majority share and then sell it? Or, do you own it and continue to own it? Meili told reporters last week when calling for Abramovich to be cut. “It really requires a deeper conversation.”
This is surely the case. This is not an easy task. This requires strong assurances that we are not violating our corporate ownership laws, our constitution and, frankly, the very democratic freedoms that Putin aims to destroy in Ukraine. But we need to have this conversation. It is absolutely necessary.
Meili’s comments came immediately after the UK announced on Thursday its own imposition of sanctions on oligarchs in England, including Abramovich, owner of Chelsea football team, who is now banned from signing players and signings. sell tickets.
The Brits’ move has raised serious questions about the Russian billionaire’s assets here, which include 28.64% of Evraz shares. At least Abramovich owned the assets until February 16 – eight days before the attack on Ukraine – when his shares were transferred to a holding company.
Premier Scott Moe offered his “full confidence” that operations at the Regina steel mill are unaffected: “they are not connected but separated from global and European operations. The Prime Minister has no reason to say that.
Dealing with Evraz’s situation now may be better than dealing with the consequences – something Evraz’s unions, which are bristling at Canadian government sanctions, must also do.
“Prime Minister says sanctions will not impact domestic workers in Evraz and we will keep his feet on fire to ensure Canadian workers are not harmed by sanctions imposed on Abramovich,” Scott Lunny, manager of the United Steelworkers Western Canadian, said in a statement to media last week.
Shares of Evraz – suspended from trading on Thursday – are in freefall. Moe’s idea that Abramovich is just “a minority shareholder” and a statement by Evraz that Abramovich is not considered “a person in effective control” are disconnected.
We need a plan. We need the provincial Department of Justice — in conjunction with the federal government — to seriously explore options for managing Evraz’s assets in Regina and thereby protecting steelworker jobs.
It might be an uncomfortable conversation, but this government’s tough decisions are not without precedent.
Brad Wall in 2010 took action to stop $38.5 billion hostile takeover of BHP Billiton of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.
Some have argued that such provincial interference would scare off international investment in the province, but BHP Billiton is building the Jansen potash mine it is the largest in the world.
Unfortunately, Moe’s penchant and his version of the Sask. The party government has to play petty politics, especially when it comes to any suggestion from the NDP opposition or anything the federal Liberal government is doing.
But as such, it would actually be the perfect time for Scott Moe to step up and show the kind of leadership we need right now.
Others than Meili also suggest that we should consider freezing Abramovich’s assets in an open and transparent manner and ensuring that Evraz’s profits go to Ukrainian humanitarian aid. It shouldn’t even be partisan, given that all the assemblies offer unanimous support for Ukraine.
This could be accomplished with party support at all levels of government. It could save jobs at a company that could soon be in trouble.
It’s time for Moe and his Sask. party government to step up.
Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.
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