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Canadian Government to Sell Stake in Petro-Canada

CALGARY -- The Canadian government is selling off its stake in Petro-Canada for about $3.1 billion, reported the Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based Sun News.

The government owns 19 percent, amounting to 49.4 million shares, of the Calgary-based oil producer, refiner and retailer.

"Part of the proceeds from this sale will be used to help develop new technologies to address environmental challenges," finance minister Ralph Goodale said. It also will help the government finance its higher commitment for health care during the next decade.

Goodale said it is the right time to follow through on a plan outlined in the federal budget in March to dispose of the taxpayers' holding in the former government corporation.

Petro-Canada was created by the Pierre Trudeau Liberal government in 1975. It was intended to provide a public window into an oil industry regarded with suspicion amid high prices after the 1973 energy crisis.

The government sold 30 percent of the national oil company, with a national network of gasoline stations, in 1991 and 50 percent in 1995.

Provincial leaders are looking for a new financial deal for cities and towns after reaching a new health agreement with the federal government. In the health deal, the provinces, territories and federal government signed a pact to provide $41 billion over 10 years for health funding.

The federal Liberals are expected to come up with new cash and special arrangements now to meet municipal needs such as sharing part of the $4.5 billion a year in federal gasoline tax. They also want money for water and sewer systems, transit and other infrastructure needs.
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