13 September 2007

Other people's money

From the Toronto Star editorial on the Hebron memorandum of understanding:
It's such a good deal, Williams said, that if he were outside government and had the chance to make such an investment, he would do so "in a heartbeat."

But Williams is not outside government and the comfort zone for a private investor is not a useful guide for the deployment of public funds.

Newfoundlanders might want to consider what happened when another Conservative premier used his provincial treasury to acquire a stake in the oil business.

In 1981 in Ontario, Bill Davis committed about $800 million to buy shares in Suncor. After falling in value for more than a decade, they were dumped in the early 1990s for a net loss of about $400 million.

Still, if Williams is right and the money starts rolling in, he will have earned his local-hero status.

If not, Williams will have provided another example of why politicians should stick to governing and leave investing to people who are only gambling their own money.