Thursday, August 6, 2009

 

FOOLS RUSH IN

Unlike Chrysler and General Motors, our elected parliamentary elite (oxymoron?) cast Nortel adrift when the technology giant faced financial collapse. Truth be told, Nortel once the darling of the world's telecommunications industry had been poorly managed and sucked dry for years. Come to think of it so have Chrysler and GM.

Nortel is bankrupt: Be that as it may now in its wisdom, the House of Commons Industry Committee is meeting in emergency session on Friday to discuss the court ordered bidding process which netted Ericcson of Sweden one and half billion dollars' worth of its technology. Horror of horrors!

It is mid-August, the silly season in sleepy "By Town", politicians doubtless bored in their own home ridings...time for a taxpayer funded late week jaunt back to the Capital - Here they come, all 12 members of the committee and doubtless a retinue of hangers-on.

It is hard to believe that sabre-rattling from Canada's new technology darling, Waterloo based Research In Motion hasn't had something to do with this latest "prise de conscience" from our politicians. Jim Balsillie, RIM's billionaire owner, raised a stink after claims his company had been excluded from bidding for Nortel's technology. As witnessed by his efforts to get an NHL hockey franchise into Hamilton, Ontario; Mr. Balsillie can be tenacious (if not obsessed) when it comes to something he's wishing for.

No doubt it also helps that Micheal Chong, the Industry Committee chairman who called the urgent meeting in Ottawa, is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Wellington-Halton Hills. His riding is deep in the heart of RIM's southwestern Ontario home turf. Hanging from the coat tails of this little mis-step, the parties in opposition and committee members, Marc Garneau (Liberal) and Brian Masse (NDP) have since called on the government to review the sale to Ericsson arguing that it will lead to the loss of potentially leading-edge technology. The Industry Minister, Tony Clement, says he's looking into that.

Realistically folks, there is no technology here that isn't already known elsewhere. Nortel and others in efforts to out-do each other with ever cheaper products,(Ericsson and RIM included) have allowed their communications technology to be learned, adopted and manufactured in several emerging third world nations such as China, Taiwan, Viet-Nam and India from where "grey market" technologies and products are now emerging.

Nortel's economic downfall had been predictable for many recent years. Out of concern over the loss of Canadian developed technology the politicians and RIM (or others) could and maybe should have acted sooner. Instead of circling over the carcass waiting to pick at the entrails once the inevitable had occurred.

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