Canada cracks down as foreign-owned firms cut back

Aug 01, 2009 | 05:05 AM |

TORONTO Canada has long been perceived as the friendly country to the north with a backbone of rubber. But with its steel and resource industries now mostly in the hands of foreigners who have been slashing jobs and production at a speed once thought unthinkable, the nation is forcibly raising a hand of objection.

In May, Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement bluntly told U.S. Steel Corp. to keep the commitments it made when it purchased Stelco Inc. in 2007 or face the possibility of government intervention. "What I'm signaling to you is I take these agreements seriously," Clement told reporters when announcing the action. "When you have signed a deal with the Canadian government to invest in Canada we expect you to honor the deal .?.?. and I will act to defend the interests of Canada."

The demands were sent in a letter to U.S. Steel, and a response was requested within 10 days. They got it in the form of an 80-page, undoubtedly heavily lawyered, document, reportedly stating that the company shouldn't be held responsible for factors beyond its control—namely, the plunge in steel demand resulting from the global recession. ....

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