Conservative MPs warn Teck takeover would be devastating
A trio of Conservative Party MPs gathered at Fiorentino Brothers Contracting Ltd. in Cranbrook’s Industrial Park Thursday morning to outline the critical importance of Teck Resources Ltd. to the East Kootenay, Crowsnest Pass area, province and nation.
Rick Perkins, Conservative Shadow Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry and South Shore-St. Margaret’s MP, Rob Morrison, MP for Kootenay—Columbia and Foothills (Alberta) MP John Barlow took turns laying out the Conservative Party’s stance and demands from the ruling Liberal Party government surrounding the hostile takeover bid of Teck by Glencore, a Swiss multinational corporation.
“Rob (Morrison) picked this location, Fiorentino Brothers, because they are an example of the importance of what Teck Resources does, with their focus on supporting local businesses. Fiorentino Brothers is a major supplier of big mining equipment and it is locally owned here in Cranbrook,” MP Perkins said.
“Like my riding of South Shore-St. Margaret’s in Nova Scotia where the resource sector, forestry and fishery drive our jobs and economy, B.C. is equally driven by the importance of resources. Conservatives are a team that knows that powerful paycheques that resource jobs generate are the competitive advantage that Canada has over other nations. It’s time to be proud again of our God-given resources and Canada.
“We are blessed with an abundance of the resources that the world needs,” Perkins pointed out. “These resources drive good jobs and drive our communities.”
However, he pointed out that “after eight years of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, we have lost our way and fallen behind our closest ally and competitor in terms of our nation’s productivity. When Justin Trudeau was elected, our per capita productivity as a nation was equal to the United States. After eight years, the United States is 40% more productive than Canada. There is only one reason for this decline and the standard of living for Canadians and it is the Justin Trudeau Liberals.”
Trudeau’s Liberals are speaking out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to Teck Resources, Perkins continued.
“On the one hand his ministers say they want Canadian resource companies to be headquartered in Canada but on the other hand they have killed Teck resource projects for a nation’s political reasons. The federal Liberals succumbed to political interest groups to intervene in the Castle project and federal uncertainty killed Teck’s frontier project in Alberta. A project with unprecedented levels of support from First Nations and Teck Resources as Canada’s largest integrated mining and exploration company is essential to our future as a nation.
“Teck Resources is also critical for British Columbia, as one of the few remaining large company head offices left. Teck’s contribution to B.C. over its history is immeasurable,” Perkins said. “It’s an iconic B.C. success story.”
He added Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre is focused on ensuring Teck’s survival and growing Canada’s mining industries.
While ethical and environmentally smart foreign investment is important to Canada, Glencore’s two takeover bids of Teck Resources “are not in the best interests of Canada and do not meet environment, ethical standards we expect,” Perkins said.
“Conservatives opposed Glencore’s attempt to acquire Teck Resources and call on the Liberals to ensure that their proposal is rejected. It is not good enough so state like the Liberals said, ‘that we are watching this closely.’ The time to watch is over; the time to speak is now,” he said, warning that Glencore has stated it will cut $4.7 billion in costs if it acquired Teck.
“Those savings are only possible with excessive job losses at Teck. Teck Resources estimates this could be as much as 5,000 jobs lost, if Glencore was successful in buying Teck. That’s 63% of Teck’s Canadian workforce,” he warned.
“The loss of these pay cheques is price too high to pay. The loss of another B.C. headquartered global company is too much of a cost to pay.”
Perkins also warned about Glencore’s record of “fines and bribery and ethics law violations around the world is too much to pay for the price of selling Teck. Rejecting Glencore’s bid is common sense.”
Local MP Rob Morrison provided “local flavour” on the issue.
“There are over 30,000 direct and indirect jobs that could be impact by what is happening here and that’s 55 companies, much like Fiorentino, with over $300 million in contracts. And then there is the impact Teck has in their communities,” he said, noting many local projects/organizations that have receive huge support from the company over the years, including $1 million to College of the Rockies to boost trades programs.
Morrison added the Conservatives are pushing to have metallurgical coal made a critical mineral in Canada.
Foothills MP John Barlow provided a perspective from the jurisdiction that neighbours the Elk Valley – Crowsnest Pass.
“These jobs aren’t just in this area. There is a massive ripple effect when we lose these critical Canadian companies,” he said, noting “the vast majority” of his constituents in the Pass either work for Teck or businesses that rely on Teck.
“To lose a Canadian success story like that would be devastating for communities throughout Western Canada. We cannot lose these economic development opportunities in our small, rural communities. If we didn’t have Teck, Crowsnest Pass likely would not survive; it would not likely have a long-term future and their history is so steeped in the tradition of coal mining, whether it’s Bellvue or Hill Crest and certainly across into B.C.”
District of Elkford Mayor Steve Fairbairn provided perspective from a town that relies that completely on Teck jobs.
“Elkford wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for coal metallurgical coal mining. If you live in the upper end of the valley, you are either directly or indirectly dependent on metallurgical coal for your livelihood. These are good, good jobs; stable. We’re into the third generation of Elkfordians who are getting excellent jobs up at Fording River and Greenhills and Line Creek and Elkview. I just signed a contract with Teck Resources for a donation of $300,000 worth of copper fittings and fixtures for our childcare centre, which is a non-profit. We wouldn’t have that child care centre if Teck wasn’t a major donator to it.
“Our community centre had major donations from Teck Resources. And it is not just those things, I can pick up the phone and I can talk to the mine managers, they’re living in the valley, and I can address our issues with them very directly. That’s from health care, it’s from housing, pollution issues… Teck is responsive. Teck’s put probably $1.5 billion now into addressing selenium and other heavy metals in the water. I gotta tell you, I really don’t think that Glencore is going to do that.”
Mayor Fairbairn said Glencore’s record on environmental issues “is not a record you’d be proud of.”
Another major corporation that relies on Teck business is Canadian Pacific Railway, he pointed out.
“It’s a lot of jobs all the way down to Vancouver,” he said.
“Teck donated $10 million toward building a wing in the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. I don’t think Glencore is going to do that. I really don’t. This hostile takeover has to be more than just a market play and stock value. This is an issue of Canadian sovereignty, it’s an issue of economic stability in the southeast corner of British Columbia and the southwest corner of Alberta.
“It’s an issue of environmental stewardship of our own backyard,” he added.
Lead image: From left: Rick Perkins, Conservative Shadow Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry and South Shore-St. Margaret’s MP, District of Elkford Mayor Steve Fairbairn, Rob Morrison, MP for Kootenay—Columbia and Foothills (Alberta) MP John Barlow. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photos