June 29, 2012 - MLI's Commentary, Potash and BlackBerries: Should Canada treat all foreign direct investment the same? by Laura Dawson, is the subject of a latest editorial in the Ottawa Citizen! The full editorial is copied below. It was also reprinted in the Vancouver Sun.

 

Rim is not Canada

Ottawa Citizen, June 29, 2012

There are reasons to be concerned about Research in Motion. It's dangerous,  though, to let too much of our Canadian identity get tangled up with the  fortunes of a single company.

RIM's products, services and network have changed the global tech  marketplace, and it's still far from dead. But it's losing money, cutting jobs  and delaying its next BlackBerry product. Its stock took a big hit on Friday  morning. Some analysts are saying a breakup or sale is now all but inevitable;  it's only a question of when.

That possibility is bound to make a lot of Canadians nervous, since it might  mean that some or all of RIM's assets would end up in foreign hands.

"There will certainly be symbolic damage if Canada's flagship IP company left  the country or faded into obscurity like the Atari or the Betamax," writes Laura  Dawson in a recent report for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, "but national  pride weathered the disintegration of Nortel and the relocation of Alcatel to  France. It would certainly survive the end of RIM."

A takeover would trigger a federal review, but there's no reason to assume  foreign acquisition would necessarily be a bad thing. Research and development,  and jobs, could stay in Canada under new ownership. There is a national security  aspect to consider, since BlackBerries are used so widely in government, but  again, that isn't enough to trigger a knee-jerk nationalist rejection of a  foreign takeover, or a government bailout. The Canadian government should watch  what happens with RIM very closely, but it shouldn't base its decisions on  xenophobia.

Canadian companies invest in the rest of the world more than foreign  companies invest in Canada. Canada's chronic economic problem isn't foreign  ownership within our borders; it's a lack of productivity and innovation. We  can't create a more innovative culture by shielding Canadian companies from  global competition, or by propping them up when they run into trouble. The big  question for Canadians is not whether we can hold on to RIM, but whether we can  foster more innovative companies and give them the tools to succeed.

Ottawa Citizen

 

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