Not much attention has been paid to the budget call for Crown assets sale. The whole idea of selling anything one is not forced to at this time makes little sense. It is a buyer's market and prices are depressed. The sale has nothing to do with fixing the economic mess we are in and everything to do with Conservative ideology. I suppose that Harper had to keep some items in that will mollify his core supporters when he is doing so much that contradicts basic conservative ideology.
The opposition is right to bring attention to this issue. It is a leftover from the original economic update. I wonder if Ignatieff will bother to say anything.
I imagine that Iran will be one of the high bidders for AECL or perhaps it will be outbid by Israel!
January 31, 2009
Opposition demand list of Crown assets for sale
By PETER ZIMONJIC, NATIONAL BUREAU
Opposition MPs are worried a Conservative plan to sell off government assets threatens Crown corporations like the CBC and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
NDP MP Paul Dewar has joined some Liberals in calling for a list of assets to be made public so Canadians can see what the government is selling.
"In the budget documents, they talk about selling off assets where there's competition with the private sector," said Dewar. "We want a guarantee that they're not going to be selling off AECL."
The budget contains a plan to review government assets and determine if they still provide value to the taxpayer or can be sold. Assets that might be sold include those which compete with the private sector -- which the CBC does.
This year, the government will review assets in the following departments: Finance, Indian and Northern Affairs, Natural Resources, and Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
AECL is a Natural Resources Canada asset. Dewar is concerned the government will try to sell AECL to divest itself of direct responsibility for the NRU reactor at Chalk River.
The government has said it will earn $2.3 billion in asset sales this year, but has so far refused to say which assets might be for sale. Over the next five years, the government predicts it could earn up to $10.1 billion from such sales.
"In principle, you are not supposed to put revenue in your budget until you have actually sold it and you have the money in your hands," said Liberal finance critic John McCallum. "It's irresponsible."
The government defended accounting for money it has yet to earn.
"It's not unusual for governments to record savings from planned asset sales before the results of those reviews are finalized," said Chisholm Pothier, the minister of finance's press secretary.