The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.Doctors don’t normally prescribe medication without describing the reasons or the side effects. But that’s what Ottawa expects Canadians to swallow with its recent approval of the US$30-billion takeover of Montreal-based Seagram Ltd by Vivendi SA and its subsidiary, the French pay TV network Canal Plus.  At this point, all the parties will say is that the transaction was approved by Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada because it was deemed to be of "net benefit" to Canada. Normally, Canada’s film distribution policy prohibits foreign film distributors from entering the Canadian market. Industry Canada officials say they reviewed the transaction only vis-à-vis Seagram’s spirits and wine division, and that section will be maintained until Vivendi sells it off to a party that meets federal approval. Canadian Heritage reviewed the cultural aspects of the sale, but claims it cannot disclose details of the nature of the approval, because they are considered confidential under the Investment Canada Act. Seagram officials are just as tight-lipped, saying both parties agreed not to disclose the terms of the deal, but that they were "happy with the timely manner in which the Canadian government conducted the review." The secrecy around the approval and a possible benefits package seems odd, given the feds had no qualms about revealing details of a deal they brokered with foreign-owned PolyGram in early 1997. PolyGram was allowed to expand its distribution system here in exchange for investing $20 million over five years on Canadian films, film festivals and the distribution of Canadian films abroad. The deal became void when Canadian-owned Seagram bought PolyGram in late 1998. PolyGram’s operations are now part of Universal, which is among the Seagram assets being sold to Vivendi. Confidentiality seems to be the order of the day now that a Canadian company has been gobbled up by a foreign entity, which will presumably run Universal’s future operations here. All we know is that along with Canada’s approval, the transaction received antitrust clearances from the European Commission, the Canadian Competition Bureau and U.S. antitrust authorities. If Ottawa feels the Universal-absorbed PolyGram is subject to grandfathering, like many Hollywood studios, why doesn’t it just say so?