Toronto — "Go North" is replacing the "Go Slow" message for many eager US and European corporate investors in Canada's expanding natural resource industries. The "Go Slow" sign has been the all-too-clear message as both the Canadian and American economies share the same deep industrial slump and high unemployment.
Carmakers in both countries are in plenty of trouble. In Canada, Massey-Ferguson, the farm-machinery giant, has been rebuffed by the Candian government in an appeal for federal aid to help develop a $500 million refinancing program.
But now the "Go North" sign is resulting from the continuing boom in oil and gas industries in Alberta, a province that has almost no unemployment, and the speculation by several multi- national oil companies that Newfoundland's newly discovered offshor oil reserves in the Atlantic might be the largest in North America.
The billion-dollar-plus offshore oil research of Calgary's Dome Petroleum Ltd. in the Arctic Beaufort Sea has resulted in a half-billion- dollar investment in it by the Japanese National Petroleum Company.
Indeed, the move north by corporate US investors in this country's still-resource- rich regions is matched by the slow but steady penetration by all kinds of Japanese firms into expanding western Canadian industries.
Last month a prestigious eastern Canadian think tank, the Institute of Public Policy, whose studies ar followed by top management in Canada and the United States, suggested the Japanese are out to dominate key industries in Canada and nothing less.
The most visible sign of all this has been the trading record set during August by the Toronto Stock Exchange.
That stock exchange's own composite index (it handles 80 percent of all Canadian stock transactions by dollar value) reached 2,271 on Aug. 22, up from 1 ,000 in early 1978.
The index represents a broad range of 300 Canadian firms, including natural-resources outfits, communications, and the big and always profitable Canadian chartered banks.
Other leading Canadian "blue chips" are Bell Canada, Imperial Oil (70 percent American-owned subsidiary of Exxon), and the Steel Company of Canada. The latter is one of North America's major steel mills, which is expanding while many of its US competitors are cutting back.
The lastest boost to this booming pattern of Canadian investment by US and European firms was the unexpected Canadian government approval this summer for the early construction from southern Calgary to the Us border of the still-tentatife Alaska natural-gas pipeline.
This southern section will guarantee more Canadian gas exports to the major Western US producers by 1985, in spite of much political opposition in Canada to the "pre-build" decision.
There is another and growing aspect of this "Go North" pattern. These are the increasing dividends and earnings flowing into Canadian corporate head offices from all kinds of Canadian companies that have moved aggressively into the United States and are doing very well in spite of the recession there.
These range from real-estate development giants like Cadillac-Fairview Corporation and Genstar Limited to quality large sailboat builders like C. & C. Yachts, which can't keep up with American orders, to seven Canadian cable TV firms, which have developed highly advanced transcontinental cable TV systems.
And all these cash flows northward are, of course, in the stronger American dollar earnings.