Vale takeover fell short – by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star-April 2, 2011)

The Sudbury Star, the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper. This column was published on April 2, 2011. lstricker@thesudburystar.com

ELECTION: NDP leader in a whirlwind tour of Sudbury on Friday 

“(One key issue) was on the whole question of foreign ownership … I think the bar
could have been set much higher with regard to what (Vale) was required to do to
benefit the people here — the workers and the community.” (Jack Layton – NDP Leader)

Foreign ownership should be handled in an open and transparent manner, Jack Layton said Friday, citing Vale’s takeover of Inco in 2006.

Layton stopped by The Star office Friday with Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle and Sudbury MP Glenn Thibeault. He praised the two men for their success in bringing issues important to Sudburians, including the takeover, to prominence in the House of Commons.

“Our MPs from Northern Ontario, and particularly these two, have really driven some of the key issues that are of concern in this community,” Layton said.

“(One key issue) was on the whole question of foreign ownership … I think the bar could have been set much higher with regard to what (Vale) was required to do to benefit the people here — the workers and the community,” he said.

“We saw an effort to take away key things that have been fundamental to the middle class lifestyle of Sudbury … having to do with pensions and benefits.

“I know Vale is a generous contributor to lots of things that go on in the community, but ultimately it’s about the workforce … If they’re going to be sold to a foreign company, then they’ve got to show that there’s going to be a lot of benefits for the community and the workers.”

Another key issue, Layton continued is pensions.

“A lot of people are very concerned about retirement security … about two years ago, we launched a campaign to try to put the issue of retirement security onto the agenda of Parliament for all the parties and for a national debate.

“Our MPs were in the forefront of pushing that issue forward, because that’s what they were hearing from their constituents.”

The other parties have slowly started to respond to the pensions issue, Layton said.

He named pensions as one of Gravelle and Thibeault’s big accomplishments.

The long-gun registry, which Gravelle and Thibeault initially said they would vote to scrap, only to change their minds, was also discussed. Layton said he didn’t direct his MPs to vote one way or the other.

“This was not a whipped vote. Members were able to make their own decisions.”

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