The late-80s and early-90s saw the Canadian government divest itself from some of its largest state-owned businesses (known in Commonwealth countries as Crown Corporations) – particularly when it came to transport and energy companies. In a sweeping implementation of Thatcherism led by Conservative premier Brian Mulroney, Ottawa privatized aerospace companies Canadair and de Havilland in 1986, sold off Air Canada in 1988, liquidated its majority stake in Petro-Canada in 1991 and finished selling off its shares in CN (the Canadian National Railway Company) in 1995. But after General Motors emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, the Canadian federal and Ontario provincial governments (and, when it comes down to it, Queen Elizabeth II) found themselves among the largest shareholders in one of the biggest automakers in the world. And so they remain today, but that's all about to change.

In a public address on Friday, Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced the implementation of a new policy that would see the Ontario provincial government sell off a large portfolio of assets. On the docket are such state-owned assets as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (which has a monopoly over alcohol sale across the country's second-largest and most populous province), utility companies Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation, some valuable pieces of real estate... and the province's shares in GM.

According to Bloomberg, the provincial government is convening a panel to determine how best to sell off the assets, to be chaired by TD bank chief Ed Clark and populated by such notables as former provincial finance minister Janet Ecker and former Canada Pension Plan Investment Board chief David Denison. Funds raised by the sale of these assets will be reinvested in infrastructure and not applied towards the provincial debt that is fast approaching $300 billion (in Canadian dollars).

Back in August we reported that the Canadian federal government was also planning to sell its stake in GM, but today the government-owned Canada Development Investment Corporation remains the company's second-largest shareholder with over 110 million shares, behind the UAW healthcare trust with precisely 140 million shares. The Canadian governments may, however, want to wait for GM's stock prices to recover in the wake of the recall scandal before it begins offloading.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      Jake
      • 8 Months Ago
      Why should a government own part of a private company in the name of the tax payers?
        SpikedLemon
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Jake
        If profitable? Why not. I wouldn't be opposed to the idea. It would be refreshing to see governments actually bring a surplus in rather than deficits.
          wrestleprocbt
          • 8 Months Ago
          @SpikedLemon
          I agree it would be nice if they could make money instead of costing tax payers more money. When, has the gov't ever actually made a profit and not cost the taxpayers. All who you know as to who gets bailed out. If dems are in office you can rest assure that any union wanting a bailout/money is going to get it to keep their votes.
          Jake
          • 8 Months Ago
          @SpikedLemon
          So, instead of a qualified investment councilor, you would have politicians invest money to make a profit? Government should be in the business of governing (as little as possible) and not in the business of playing financial games. And I can say "should" in this case because I am a tax paying voter.
      bootsnchaps60
      • 8 Months Ago
      Here's an opportunity for BAIC.
      Jerry
      • 8 Months Ago
      Sell before the crash?
      thedriveatfive
      • 8 Months Ago
      Guess they should have dumped it before recall-gate
      Karfreek
      • 8 Months Ago
      Sell while there is something to sell!
      Matthew Miles
      • 8 Months Ago
      "And when it comes down to it, Queen Elizabeth II" - FALSE The Queen is our head of state in name only. She has no actual power, or "ownership" over/of anything in Canada.
        Narom
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Matthew Miles
        False, the Queen has alot more power over Commenwealth countries than you think, she just chooses not to use it.
        Pat
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Matthew Miles
        Sounds like AB is trying to show off that they know something ... stick to the facts AB ... no need to explain crown corporations and no need to make up stories about the Queen!
        SpikedLemon
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Matthew Miles
        Like it or not: Canada is a constitutional Monarchy. QEII is head of state with the Governor General as the appointed representative. She has, theoretically, absolute power.
        flammablewater
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Matthew Miles
        You really need to read Wikipedia, clearly Autoblog did: "In Canada, Crown corporations, within either the federal or provincial spheres, are technically owned and operated by the monarch, as the institution's sole shareholder"
      drewbiewhan
      • 8 Months Ago
      I can tell you most Ontarians will not be happy with selling the liquour control board.
      Jeff
      • 8 Months Ago
      $300 billion (in Canadian dollars)? What's that, like $120.00 US? I lol.
      Narom
      • 8 Months Ago
      "(known in Commonwealth countries as Crown Corporations) " Or not. Only in Canada.
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