As the battle for the future of Teck Resources heats up, so has debate over whether the mining company should remain in Canadian hands, and whether the federal government should ultimately get involved to keep it there.

Glencore Plc told shareholders in Canada’s largest diversified miner that it would sweeten its US$23 billion takeover bid – but only if they vote to reject Teck’s plans to split its base metals and coal businesses at an upcoming April 26 meeting.

Teck, meanwhile, has rejected Swiss-based Glencore’s bid, but hasn’t ruled out an eventual sale to another company after the proposed spinoff. Both companies have been making their respective cases to shareholders in recent weeks as the vote approaches.

Eric Jackson, founder and president of EMJ Capital, said he considers it important for the major miner to remain under Canadian ownership, particularly at the beginning of a boom for minerals like copper used in electrification efforts.

Jackson said he opposes a sale to Glencore, and argued that the federal government has a role to play in advocating for Canada’s position in the global industrial shift that will place a premium on the type of mineral assets Teck produces.

“Canada can decide that it wants to be a major player at that table,” Jackson said in a television interview on Wednesday.

“We have to get these decisions right now from a government policy perspective in order to ensure … that major Canadian players continue to survive and continue to be leaders. I'd like to see Teck go on to become an acquirer of other assets internationally, rather than just be swallowed up and spat out.”

Teck shareholder Ross Beaty, who is also founder and chair emeritus of Pan American Silver and chairman of Equinox Gold, told BNN Bloomberg that he’s opposed to Glencore’s offer for similar reasons to Jackson’s.

Selling Teck to a foreign company like Glencore could hurt Canada’s reputation within the global mining industry, Beaty argued.

“Canada is a global leader in mining,” he said in a television interview. “Teck is biggest diversified mining company in Canada. We lose that kind of thing and it’s just not the same place.”

If shareholders vote against Teck’s split of its coal and metals business, Beaty said he expects the federal government will get involved on the matter of the proposed Glencore sale.

“I think it will be put to the federal government and I think they’re going to look at this very closely,” he said.

“You have a Canadian champion, a world-class company doing great things on the world stage and just in Canada, Teck has some big assets. I think they’re going to look at this very closely.”

This week, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told Bloomberg News that the federal government is closely watching Glencore’s takeover bid of Teck, and he sees the value Teck brings to the economies of Canada and British Columbia. However, Wilkinson said the government won’t jump in on commercial talks between the two mining players. 

Beaty said he also sees greater value in Teck’s proposed split than under Glencore’s offer to keep Teck’s coal and metals businesses combined, because he anticipates the base metals business will increase in value in the long-term.

“I think there's a lot more value creation through the split, than through accepting a bid from Glencore,” he said.