Skip to main content
Start of content

House Publications

The Debates are the report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House. The Journals are the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House. The Order Paper and Notice Paper contains the listing of all items that may be brought forward on a particular sitting day, and notices for upcoming items.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at

Previous day publication Next day publication
Skip to Document Navigation Skip to Document Content




Monday, December 10, 2012

Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates



Monday, December 10, 2012

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 11 a.m.



[Private Members' Business]



Language Skills Act

     moved that Bill C-419, An Act respecting language skills, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    She said: Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise here today to introduce my private member's bill, Bill C-419, to the House and to answer questions from my hon. colleagues.
    First of all, I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, for all his support and the huge efforts he has made regarding my bill. I do not know anyone who advocates for bilingualism as passionately and eloquently as he does. I hope his bill requiring Supreme Court judges to be bilingual will enjoy as much success as mine.
    If I may, I would like to take the time to provide some more detailed information about the substance of my bill. I know my colleagues are already aware of what Bill C-419 proposes, but I would like to begin by clearly defining the foundation for the changes proposed in this bill.
    My bill has already received quite a bit of media attention, which makes me very proud. My bill has inspired people to take the time to contact my office, looking for more information and asking some excellent questions. During my speech, I will draw on some of those very relevant questions in order to ensure that my approach remains clear and can be easily understood.
    Bill C-419 is actually very simple. The bill's official summary states that “persons whose appointment requires the approval by resolution of the Senate, the House of Commons or both Houses of Parliament must understand English and French without the aid of an interpreter and be able to express themselves clearly in both official languages”.
    Those few people whose appointment must be approved by one house or both houses are commonly called “officers of Parliament”. Therefore, Bill C-419 would require that officers of Parliament be fluent in Canada's two official languages when they are appointed.
    For people watching at home, I want to stress again that this bill would not require that all elected federal MPs be bilingual. That would be an amazing proposal, but it is a different kettle of fish and not what we are working on today. This bill only refers to officers of Parliament, those senior officials who, as I just explained, are appointed by the House of Commons or the Senate, or by both the House and Senate.
    There will still be unilingual MPs in our Parliament. That is totally normal. However, just as government operations must adapt to the needs of Canadians, Parliament must adapt to the needs of elected MPs. This means that officers of Parliament must adapt to the needs of MPs, no matter what their language background.
    A question that naturally springs to mind is: how many officers of Parliament are there in total?
    Who are they? First of all, these are people who have expertise like few others, who fulfill an essential role in our democratic system. The Parliament of Canada has to be accountable to Canadians. That goes without saying. This accountability is guaranteed through the work of officers of Parliament. In a way, they are akin to safeguards, alarm systems and safety nets. They guarantee the legitimacy of the parliamentary system. They are there to support the government in its obligation to keep Canadians abreast of what it is doing. When the government fails to disclose everything, officers of Parliament can go through the government's paperwork to ensure that everything is in order, legal and fair. They are the eyes of Canadians in the drawers, wastebaskets and paper shredders of the government. Understandably, officers of Parliament are a valuable resource in our system. They are the most reliable component of the entire parliamentary process.
    How many are there? Roughly 10. Why do I say “roughly”? Because this is not a precise and well-defined category. There is a bit of a grey area. The precise definition of who is an officer of Parliament and who is not—and for many other categories for that matter—seems to be more a matter of tradition than anything else.
    My bill focuses on 10 positions. What are they? I will list them: the Auditor General of Canada, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Information Commissioner of Canada, the Senate Ethics Officer, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada and the President of the Public Service Commission of Canada.
    That is all of them. Canadians are not always aware of the important role these various people play. Every year, these officers of Parliament table reports that have a major impact on how political life in Canada unfolds. If any inconsistencies are noted, the government will be required to explain those to the opposition and, by extension, to Canadians, to whom we are all accountable.
    The system is perfect not because it prevents abuse but because any abuse will always be detected in the end. The safety measures are an integral part of the system and help to ensure that the system functions properly. However, to be able to detect this abuse, officers have to be able to understand what they are told and what they read.
    Imagine if the former auditor general, Sheila Fraser, had not been bilingual. It would have been much harder for her to understand the complexity of the sponsorship scandal, since it was centred in Quebec. When officers have to analyze such sensitive and complex documents, it is of the utmost importance that they be able to do so in the language in which those documents were written. A mastery of both official languages was absolutely essential for Ms. Fraser because, despite the excellent work of the translators and interpreters, she might have missed some nuances that were key to understanding the scandal. Let us not forget that, without Ms. Fraser, this charade might still be going on.
    Officers of Parliament have a clear mandate: to uphold, promote and monitor integrity. They have the right to know everything, to ask anything and to understand everything that is happening within their jurisdictions.
    The Auditor General of Canada must conduct independent audits of government operations. He reviews the accounting, checks the accuracy of financial statements and decides whether the government is using public funds effectively and fairly.
    The Chief Electoral Officer is the senior official responsible for the administration of federal elections and referendums. His office is responsible for registering political parties, maintaining voter lists and enforcing the Canada Elections Act.
    The position of Senate Ethics Officer is held by one of the senior officials of the Senate who are responsible for ensuring that the Senate institutions run properly. The Senate Ethics Officer is responsible for enforcing the Conflict of Interest Code for Senators.
    Next, the President of the Public Service Commission of Canada is the head of the commission. The commission—and I am quoting the by-laws and operating principles of the Public Service Commission—"is an independent agency mandated by Parliament to ensure a public service that is competent, non-partisan, representative of the Canadian population and able to serve the public with integrity and in the official language of their choice.”
    Whether we are talking about the Commissioner of Lobbying, who ensures that elected officials fulfill their rights and obligations under the Lobbying Act, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, who is responsible for giving confidential advice to public office holders, or the Commissioner of Official Languages, whose job is to ensure that everyone abides by the Official Languages Act, they all protect Canadians, elected officials and the system.
    Our system is precious and reliable. It exists for all of us, and officers of Parliament play an essential role in maintaining the excellence and sustainability of the system. It is easy to see. These senior officials must all deal with Canadians from both of Canada's linguistic groups and must consult documents written in both languages. Their understanding of French and English is essential.
    Bilingual candidates have generally been appointed to these positions in the past. Everyone acknowledges the fact that the ability to interact in both languages is a prerequisite if we want the job to be done well in a timely manner. In other words, tradition has been a kind of precedent.
    Being bilingual in French and English is a competency. Since Canada adopted institutional bilingualism, anyone in this country who wants to become bilingual can do so. It is a matter of putting in the time; all of the tool to get there already exist. I will be very specific. I am talking to those who may not entirely understand. Institutional bilingualism simply means that the government adapts to its citizens; not the other way around. One thing remains clear: linguistic duality will always exist.
    No one is trying to create a culturally bilingual state. Not at all. The anglophone side will continue to live, dream and love in English, and the francophone side will continue to do the same in French. Bilingualism is seen as a plus, but it is not an obligation in this country. When Canadians who live in linguistic minority communities talk about bilingualism, they often mix up certain concepts. Some say mean things, others say incorrect things and others dream about multicultural utopian futures. There is no shortage of opinions.
    I would like to make some things clear. People often use foreign examples—European ones, specifically—to support their opinions, but those examples do not necessarily reflect our situation. People name officially bilingual countries in Europe, assuming that it is the same thing and that we should either act the exact same way or the complete opposite way.
     One of the countries most often mentioned is Belgium. However, it is actually not an appropriate example. While there are parallels between our situations, the Belgian model does not really apply to the Canadian situation. First, the country’s very small size is a factor. There is no need to deploy resources far from Brussels, since the federal capital is readily accessible to everyone. As we know, that is not the case for us.
     Second, the linguistic dividing line in Belgium is very firm, and ultimately it has made Belgium a completely decentralized, even divided, country. Flanders and Wallonia live side by side, but they manage their own cultural affairs without really needing to consult each other. Canada tries to do things quite differently. We want to live together.
     If fact, if there is a European country whose language situation better reflects Canada’s, it is Finland. Finland is officially bilingual. Finnish and Swedish are both protected in the Finnish constitution. The Finnish government adapts to the Swedish minority language group by providing it with all government services in Swedish. In Finland, children systematically learn both official languages in school. Our situation is similar. Although the Swedish-speaking minority mainly lives within a well-defined geographic area, its members do still live all over Finland.
     The Finnish government makes sure that all services it is responsible for providing to the public are available in both languages.


     That is institutional bilingualism. The government arranges things to include everyone. No one is obliged to be something they are not. No one tries to impose their language on anyone else. That is the most appropriate system for Canada, for our demographics and our geography.
     It will come as no surprise to anyone if I say that of the two languages, French is the one in the minority in Canada. This naturally creates a situation with which we are already familiar. More French speakers than English speakers are bilingual. This is not a criticism directed at the majority; it is simply an observation.
     On that point, however, I would like to mention Quebec's English-speaking minority. The last four decades have had an enormous impact on how that segment of our society has come to see itself. Political events and the development of new sentiments in Quebec have compelled these million individuals to reinvent themselves and adapt.
     I would like to take this opportunity to tell the anglophones of Quebec that we are proud to live with them and that our future will be a shared one, just as our past has been.
     We might think, then, that this bill would benefit francophones more because they are more aware of the need to learn the second language than are anglophones, who are the victims of an odd sort of prejudice precisely because they are part of a majority all their lives. However, I believe that this is a completely false argument.
     You do not suddenly become an officer of Parliament by surprise in the middle of a career as a clerk in Saskatoon or as an undertaker in Sorel, without seeing it coming. Someone who is already moving in circles from which he or she may emerge as a candidate for that kind of position is well aware of Canadian law and knows that bilingualism is a requirement.
     We are causing harm to no one by requiring bilingualism as a precondition by law. On the contrary, we are doing a lot of good, and here is why.
     I have just returned from Moncton, the capital of Acadia, where I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet with several Acadian cultural organizations. Passing through Acadia always does an enormous amount of good for your national feeling. The people you meet there are often extraordinary. Acadia is a land of rare, even unique dynamism and vitality.
     So I went to meet with those organizations to present this bill to them. The Acadians long ago made a clear choice for their future. New Brunswick being what it is, they decided that bilingualism was an asset, and they thus made it part of their vision for society.
     New Brunswick is the only Canadian province expressly referred to in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Its bilingualism is protected, and that is clearly set out in the act.
     Reaction to this initiative was very positive. All the organizations offered their support for my bill. To them, it was clearly consistent with the general thrust of the goals we have set for ourselves as a country. I was very pleased to see that this bill met some genuine political expectations in Acadia.
     Acadians live as a linguistic minority. They are therefore extremely sensitive to that fact and know how to advocate for their rights. From the outset, of course, they are a people of uncommon strength of character. As a Quebecker, I can say that, whereas we in Quebec complain like souls suffering in the limbo of our thwarted desires, Acadians often forge ahead, make demands and win.
     It is an unusual privilege to be able to travel across our country and see how attached people are to their language rights.
     Perhaps we should stop viewing ourselves as the Trojans of North America.
     We need only talk to each other and listen to each other because Canada is a fundamentally open, progressive, fair and good country. We are the envy of the entire world as result of these values that define us and that Canadians fully embrace.
     I am personally convinced that we have every interest in joining forces and working together. That is ultimately the only way for Canada's two linguistic communities to reconcile. What some have for too long called two solitudes can ultimately prove to be two solicitudes.



    Mr. Speaker, as someone who is undecided on the bill at this point, I want to honestly ask the member this. I have heard concerns from people who are worried that merit would not be the first criterion when we are considering these positions, that the first criterion would become competency in either official language. I am hoping she can address that specific issue as it has been relayed to me. Can these two things reconcile? Can we talk about merit and bilingualism separately, or do they have to be brought together in this case?


    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question. It is quite relevant in light of the nature of the bill and initiative under discussion.
     As I see it, reconciling bilingualism and competency is not really a problem because bilingualism as such is a skill in this instance. To argue that requiring people to be bilingual in order to be appointed to office potentially excludes some more qualified individuals is a little like saying that there are no bilingual people in Canada qualified to fill this position, or that there are no bilingual people who are qualified enough to hold this office. In my view this is not a real problem because clearly we have a large pool of highly skilled bilingual people. I do not think it is that difficult to appoint people from this pool to these positions.
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to congratulate my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent on bringing forward this bill.
     According to reports in this morning’s newspapers, the bill has the support of the Conservatives, or the Prime Minister, but it could be subject to a few amendments. One amendment that might be proposed is that people appointed to one of the offices listed in Bill C-419 on an acting basis would not have to meet the requirements set out in the bill. Personally, I think that this makes sense.
     How open is the hon. member to amendments like this which could in fact threaten the fundamental principle of this bill?


     Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Ottawa—Vanier for his question.
     I have indeed heard that some amendments may be brought forward, but I have not officially been apprised of any details. Therefore, I cannot say where exactly matters stand. However, we are more than willing to consider any proposed amendments, particularly as regards acting appointments. Obviously we are open to considering any amendments that are brought forward.
     However, I do think that we must proceed with caution. We must not make too many concessions, because we do not want people to use this to get around the law. But we are open to considering any amendments brought forward. The important thing is for the bill to be passed and for mistakes like the ones we saw last fall to be avoided in future.
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my hon. colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent, another one of the very talented young MPs elected to this House during the 41st general election. In fact, the House is made up of a number of excellent young MPs. So I would like to congratulate her on Bill C-419, which would make bilingualism necessary in order to obtain certain positions.
    I would like to hear her comments on the fact that the Prime Minister plans to support her bill. Knowing that some members have not yet decided whether they will support it, can she reassure them by explaining why it is a good bill that everyone should support?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Nickel Belt for his comments and his question.
    I was quite moved and very honoured to learn that my bill is likely to receive widespread support in the House of Commons. The whole process of introducing a bill, meeting with people and convincing them of its merits is quite remarkable.
    It is crucial that we, as Canadians, take care of one another, that we talk to each other and that we reconcile our linguistic duality, which all too often takes priority over other issues in this country. This is a good way to send a clear message in order to promote bilingualism and everything that makes Canada such a beautiful country.
    Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to announce that our government fully supports the primary objective of this bill and that we will be proud to vote in favour of it.
    It is an honour for me today to present our Conservative government's response to Bill C-419 respecting language skills for officers of Parliament to ensure that all officers of Parliament are able to express themselves in our great country's two official languages. This support is in line with our party's long-standing tradition, our legacy to Canadians and our vision for our country's future.
    I began to get involved in the Conservative Party as a teenager some years ago. Time unfortunately passes quickly, but I was already a proud Quebecker then. The more I learned about the history of our people and of our country, the more I realized how the Conservative Party had laid the foundation of this country in a way that would enable our nation to survive and prosper.
     As the Prime Minister often says, our country was born in French, in Quebec City, in 1608. When our founders laid the groundwork for our modern Canada in 1867, they chose the confederation model, led by Conservatives John A. Macdonald and Georges-Étienne Cartier, to enable our nation to grow in our great country.
     I should also note that it was in 1959, under the Conservative government of the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker, that simultaneous interpretation was introduced here in this House. As I did not support the Liberals' policy, which was mainly about keeping Quebec in its place, it was clear to me that promoting Quebec's identity, the French language and respect for provincial jurisdiction was part of the Conservatives' DNA in Quebec.
     I therefore enthusiastically joined the Conservative Party, and time has proven me right. Years have passed since the government of the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney made the principle of the advancement of official languages the central component of the Official Languages Act.
     However, when I meet people and our supporters on my travels in Quebec, I can see they are still moved by that vision for our country and our nation. I know they are as proud as I am to see how our government and the Prime Minister have taken up the torch.
     In recent years, our Conservative government and our Prime Minister have written a new chapter of history by recognizing the great nation of Quebec. Quebec now has a seat at UNESCO. We have also invested significant amounts of money in our communities to promote our official languages and cultural diversity under the roadmap for linguistic duality. Our government continues to be clearly committed to promoting our official languages in Canada and on the international stage.
     That is why the Prime Minister travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo in October for the Sommet de la Francophonie, an organization in which Canada plays a true leadership role. Not only did we host the Sommet de la Francophonie in the magnificent city of Quebec in 2008, but last year that city also hosted the very first global forum on the French language.
     As I said earlier, Conservatives in Quebec are proud of our government’s achievements and have also expressed their support for the principle of this bill. The Quebec caucus has listened to them, the Prime Minister has also listened to them, and even more importantly, we share their belief. It is therefore entirely natural for us to continue to build on our tradition and support the idea that this bill advances.
     We do see a number of technical issues in this bill that we will be able to resolve when we examine it in committee, and we will be pleased to bring our contribution and our Conservative know-how to that task. The approach we are going to take will be constructive, with the aim of ensuring that this important bill is passed. We will therefore go forward with a pragmatic approach, an approach that acknowledges our history and builds for the future. In other words, a Conservative approach.


     If there is one place in Canada where an example should be set and our principles of promoting our official languages honoured, it is certainly the Parliament of Canada. Our Acadian and Fransaskois friends, the Brayons, and Quebeckers—all are well aware of what a treasure a language is.
     Our support for this bill will send a clear message that today more than ever, promoting our official languages is a guiding principle for the federal government, not just because Canada was founded in French, but also because French must be at the heart of our future.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to what the minister said. I served on the Standing Committee on Official Languages for a year and never understood the Conservative approach. In any case, we will certainly get back to that issue eventually.
    I grew up in northeastern Ontario, in Mattawa, and went to school in North Bay. A local lawyer by the name of Dick Tafel was so adamantly anti-francophone that he became one of the best allies the francophone population could have. Indeed, each time he sent a letter to the North Bay Nugget or spoke on a radio or TV show, his comments were so shocking that they really brought us together.
    As a member of this House, I saw something similar happen in 1997, when the Ontario provincial government led by Mike Harris decided to shut down the Montfort Hospital, the only French-language hospital in Ontario. There was a public outcry. Less than two months later, 10,000 people gathered at the Ottawa Civic Centre. It was the start of a legal and public campaign that lasted seven years.
    The former Ontario government gave in, and the Montfort Hospital is now twice the size it used to be. It even has a 20-year contract with the federal Department of National Defence. No one will ever dare attack the Montfort Hospital again, because the reaction was so forceful. So each time I talk about it, I thank Premier Harris, who lashed out at us so strongly that we stood up for ourselves, with great results.
    I believe we are now in a similar situation. In 2011, the Prime Minister and his government appointed a unilingual Auditor General, even though information published in the Canada Gazette said that in order to be eligible, candidates had to be bilingual, that is, fluent in both French and English. But the Prime Minister sidestepped that requirement and announced the job would be filled by a unilingual person. We all remember how strongly the media and the House reacted to the news.
    My party did not want to support the initiative in any way, not even vote against it, and the Liberal members walked out of the House. We could not stomach watching the Prime Minister and his government turn back the clock on such an important issue. A multitude of complaints were filed with the Commissioner of Official Languages, who wrote a scathing report about the government. A number of my Conservative friends—indeed, I have Conservative friends, well, Progressive Conservative—told me they were very uncomfortable with this decision, and they still are.
    Again, there was legal action. The matter is currently before the courts. One of my friends, the hon. Jean-Jacques Blais, a former solicitor general and minister of national defence in the Trudeau government, brought this case before the courts because it is disrespectful of Canada's Official Languages Act, a quasi-constitutional law. This will go through because we will see that the government did indeed fail in its duty.
    We have before us today Bill C-419, a wonderful initiative by the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent. I have already commended her on this, and I am doing so again. I did not mention it, but according to some media reports, the Prime Minister apparently admitted to his caucus this fall that it was a mistake to appoint a unilingual Auditor General. I wonder whether the mistake he was talking about was violating the Official Languages Act, failing to comply with the criteria that he and his government came up with themselves, or prompting a reaction, the sort of mini-tsunami we are currently seeing, because Canadians will stand up for linguistic duality whether the Conservatives like it or not. Such is the nature of people who, as my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent says, want to live together respectfully. That is where things stand today.
    This all began in 1969. At the time, the Trudeau government passed the Official Languages Act in this House and in the Senate. It became a quasi-constitutional statute, in which both Parliament and the executive, or cabinet, have an equally important role to play. This is the history behind this bill. In Parliament, we must be able to obey the law, to follow the example, to add new conditions, new prerequisites to the law in order to keep pace with this evolving issue.


    If this were a static issue, Canada would still be caught up in the same squabbles as in the 1930s, when francophones were fighting for the federal government to issue bilingual cheques. Imagine. That was the big battle at that time. I admit that we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
    Today, the Conservatives are saying that they will support this bill, but that is not exactly what the minister is saying. They will support the basic principle of the bill. I would like to warn my NDP, Liberal and Conservative colleagues. I know the Conservative Party's tactics. In the House they cannot decide to proceed in camera, at least not yet.


    The Conservatives cannot go in camera in the House. If they did so, they would have Canadians revolting against them. However, they do it regularly in committees.


    So if in committee, they decide that they do not like something and that they want to amend it, they could easily require the meetings to be held in camera, since they have a majority. With all due respect, I really do not trust this government. I have seen too many situations where they manipulate things.
    Today, the Prime Minister is having his Quebec lieutenant, the Minister of Industry, talk. It is also important that they tell us that they do not intend to water down the bill, to gut it, or to come up with a scheme involving in camera meetings or the Senate, since we know full well that a private member's bill can be stalled almost indefinitely in the Senate. We used to have this ability in the House but not so much any more because the committees must report to the House about a bill within a certain time frame. They can request that the deadline be extended, but they must still report to the House. However, such is not the case in the Senate.
    Is the government trying to pull a fast one on us today? This is exactly is why the House must be on guard. My colleague, the Liberals' official languages critic, will ensure that that this does not happen in committee. If necessary, we will alert the Canadian public once again. There must be an outcry, since we cannot allow the government to do something like that.
    I know a number of Conservative members who are in favour of linguistic duality. They are here in this House and are listening. I hope that they will also have the courage to go talk to their Prime Minister to ensure that the government will not be scheming behind closed doors to remove all meaning and legitimacy from this bill.
    In conclusion, I would have preferred that it not come to this. The government announced that it was looking for a bilingual candidate, it hired a consulting firm to do the hiring and it appointed a unilingual candidate. That shows a lack of natural justice for all of the unilingual anglophones and francophones in the country who would have applied for this position. They did not apply because they thought that the government would keep its word, but that was not the case.
    Now we are having a debate that I believe could have been avoided, but the government chose not to avoid it. When we tried to bring this to the Standing Committee on Official Languages, the Conservative majority totally and systematically opposed it.
    That is why I am questioning the government's good faith. The Conservatives had their backs against the wall because of Canadians' desire to honour linguistic duality. They saw that in the polls. They ignored the act and their own eligibility criteria, and in doing so they were caught off guard and claimed to support the principle. So we must be careful. If they support the bill and it passes in the House, it will then have to pass in the Senate so that it receives royal assent and comes into force immediately, since these are all mechanisms that could cause further delays, which is unacceptable.


    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today in the House to support Bill C-419, An Act respecting language skills. I want to take a moment to congratulate and thank my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent for doing an exceptional job in bringing this bill before the House. This matter is one that needed to be raised and this could never have been accomplished in committee. I would also like to acknowledge the tireless efforts of my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst on behalf of official language minority communities.
     If Bill C-419 is adopted, hopefully without amendment, it will ensure that future appointees to the 10 officer of Parliament positions will be required to be bilingual at the time of their appointment.
     Earlier, my colleague listed the 10 offices covered by the bill, so I will not bother repeating them.
     The bill would require persons appointed to these offices to be able to express themselves clearly in English and French and to understand both languages without the help of an interpreter at the time of their appointment.
     Each office targeted by the bill was created pursuant to legislation setting out the terms and conditions of appointment and the nature of the office’s relationship with Parliament.
     Officers of Parliament have a special, close relationship with Parliament and elected officials. They interact on a regular basis with parliamentarians. For that reason, it is very important that incumbents of these key offices understand and speak both official languages at the time of their appointment.
     My colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent has already explained the crucial roles played by the officers of Parliament targeted by the bill. In light of these roles it is critically important that they be able to interact in both official languages in order to carry out their mandate effectively, while helping to preserve and uphold Canada’s linguistic duality, a value of tremendous importance to NDP members and many other MPs from all parties represented in the House.
     In the past, there was a custom in Parliament that the government would generally appoint bilingual individuals to officer of Parliament positions. Unfortunately, in the fall of 2011, the Conservative government decided to completely ignore that custom and made the extremely controversial appointment of a unilingual English-speaking Auditor General, in spite of the fact that the job posting clearly stated that proficiency in both official languages was an essential requirement for appointment to the position.
     That decision was a clear insult to francophone communities in and outside of Quebec, an insult magnified by claims that no bilingual candidate could be found who was as qualified as the unilingual anglophone candidate.
     I still remember the indignation of the member for Ottawa—Orléans, a Conservative member, who voiced his objections at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages. He spoke out against his government's decision. And so from the outset, there was no unanimity either among the Conservatives or in the opposition.
    Given the little regard the Conservatives have for the importance of that custom, which recognizes that English and French have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of Parliament, francophones in Canada have reason to ask questions and to be concerned.
     Given the ease with which the government broke that tradition, which was designed to ensure that the language rights of Canadians and of their elected representatives are respected, and the ease with which it ignored a crucial prerequisite for the position of Auditor General of Canada, it seems clear to me that we need to enact Bill C-419 now, to prevent this kind of situation from happening again.
     I listened carefully to the speech by the Minister of Industry a little earlier, and I would like to set the record straight.
     I am fortunate to sit on the Standing Committee on Official Languages. Over the course of the various studies and meetings we had with various groups of witnesses, I observed that the Conservatives’ standard for bilingualism was not what was advocated by most official language minority groups. Since winning a majority, the Conservatives have made many decisions that strongly suggest that bilingualism is not a priority for them, even though they have decided today to support the bill in principle. They want to propose amendments.


    They are not yet ready to decree that the people who work in the 10 positions listed in the bill must be bilingual upon assuming office. The willingness expressed today does not change the Conservatives' record since they won a majority.
    There was a great deal of debate about the appointment of a unilingual anglophone Auditor General who, to this day, still cannot answer any questions asked of him in French at press conferences. This is a problem, because he was supposed to be able to speak fluent French within a year, which is impossible. I am also thinking of the appointment of Supreme Court judges and the closure of the library at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute, the only French-language science library at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Those decisions were made at the expense of the needs and best interests of francophone communities across Canada. They also fly in the face of the government's obligation to comply with the Official Languages Act and to ensure respect for our languages and the accessibility of services in French in all federal institutions.
    Another government decision demonstrates its indifference towards linguistic duality, and that is its careless and ill-advised decision to close the maritime search and rescue centre in Quebec City. It is the only centre of its kind in Canada that can provide emergency services in French to the francophone recreational boaters and fishers in the St. Lawrence River.
    In addition to answering over 1,500 distress calls in French every year, the search and rescue centre officers help coordinate ground operations. They work with local stakeholders who often speak only French. The need to be understood in one's mother tongue during an emergency at sea is obvious. The government's decision could put many people's lives at risk, or even worse, cause loss of life.
    On the other side of the House, the Conservatives are saying that this will not be a problem and that bilingual services can be provided by the centres in Trenton and Halifax, but we know that that is not the case. Several groups and organizations have already publicly called on the government to reverse its decision. Even the Commissioner of Official Languages has expressed his concerns to the government, but so far, he has had no response.
    On November 19, the NDP held public hearings in Quebec City regarding the closure of the maritime search and rescue centre. We heard the same thing from the Corporation des pilotes du St-Laurent central, the staff of the emergency centres and a retired employee of the maritime search and rescue centre, among others. Clearly, this decision goes against the best interests of our francophone communities.
    Given all the troubling findings I have just mentioned, we very clearly need a bill such as the one introduced by the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent in order to protect Canada's linguistic duality and stand up for the French language in Quebec and Canada by taking real action. We must do so now.
    The Prime Minister allegedly admitted that this decision was a mistake. In my opinion, it is too little, too late. This decision should never have been made since, from the very first day, the job posting very clearly indicated that the candidate had to be proficient in both official languages. We should never have to discuss this basic principle since it is in our Constitution and is part of our laws and our parliamentary work in its simplest form. We must ensure that all elected MPs can represent their constituents and do their work properly. To do so, they must be able to interact with the officers of Parliament in the language of their choice, which will make their work as efficient as possible and allow them to properly represent their constituents.
    We are not asking that all public servants be bilingual. We understand that that is an unattainable goal. We cannot force everyone to be bilingual. What is more, it is unnecessary in many parts of Canada. However, it is essential that the people who hold the 10 key positions set out in my colleague's bill be bilingual because they interact with the public, hold press conferences and provide direct services to Canadians and elected members. There is no question when it comes to these people: they should simply be bilingual from the day they take office. Our country is based on the principle of linguistic duality, and that should be reflected in all the appointments the government makes to important positions such as these.
    I hope that members of all parties will support this bill as it is written because it is exactly what francophone communities in Canada need.



    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add to this debate. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on the progress that we have made in Canada in promoting both the use of English and French throughout the country.


     In particular, I would like to touch on the progress made in advancing linguistic duality in federal institutions.


    The evidence is clear. A great deal has been achieved over the last 40 years.


    This includes institutions such as those covered by Bill C-419, which is a bill whose core objective the government supports.


    If we look back to the time when the Official Languages Act was put into place in 1969, most Canadians across the country then had to communicate with the federal government in the language of the majority. There were only limited government services provided in French in a country where more than one in four Canadians spoke French as their first language. Today, the vast majority of Canadians have access to federal services in the official language of their choice.


    They can access information through a number of bilingual services such as 1-800 numbers, in person and telephone services, as well as publications and websites that include real-time updates available on wireless devices.
    Today, there are approximately 200 federal institutions that are subject to the Official Languages Act.
    This includes 80 institutions that are part of the core public administration. It also includes 120 crown corporations, privatized entities, departmental corporations, and separate agencies such as the 10 offices listed in Bill C-419.
    In addition, certain organizations, such as Air Canada and VIA Rail, retained their language obligations after they were privatized.
    When taking into consideration all institutions that are subject to the act, we find 510,000 employees spread out over every nook and cranny of the world’s second largest country.
    Every one of these institutions is responsible for applying the act within their organization, including designing and delivering effective official language programming.



    In short, the vast range of services the government provides is covered under the act, which is quite a feat when we consider that the Government of Canada has more lines of businesses and points of service than any other Canadian organization, public or private. In fact, the Government of Canada is unmatched in terms of the scope, reach and impact on the lives of Canadians.
    Like any multinational, we have offices in most countries around the world and provide a multitude of services. We have people working in the Arctic, while others work on space exploration. We have food inspectors, forensic scientists and even volcanologists. The range of jobs is incredibly vast and we employ some of the most highly skilled people in the country. Many are internationally recognized for their expertise and for their accomplishments. This makes the Government of Canada a key to Canada's competitiveness in the global economy and our two official languages are an economic advantage.


    I am proud to say that, in everything we do, we are committed to respecting the language rights of Canadians.
    The federal institutions subject to the Official Languages Act continue to take necessary steps to ensure that their services and communications with the public are available in both official languages. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
    Our recent annual report on official languages for 2010-11 shows that there has been consistent improvement over the last three years in creating and maintaining a bilingual work environment.
    In concrete terms, the percentage of incumbents of bilingual positions serving the public and who met the language requirements of their position continued to grow. In 2011, it reached 94.3% in the core public administration.
    The report shows that the percentage of bilingual positions in the core public administration is now more than 40%. In the National Capital Region, it has increased to 65%.
    This is a dramatic change from 40 years ago when the percentage of bilingual positions was less than 10%.


    Additionally, the report shows that, based on the 2006 census data, both official language communities are relatively well-represented in federal institutions.
    Finally, I might add, the report highlights some of the measures federal institutions have taken to show strong leadership in the area of official languages. This includes the use of official-language action plans, but also simple but effective measures such as adding official languages to the agenda of executive management committee meetings. These examples demonstrate the steady progress that has been made in the promotion of linguistic duality in our federal institutions.
    The bottom line is this. Over the past 40 years, we have gone from a nearly unilingual public service to a bilingual one.


    Our government recognizes that it was not easy to get to this point. We also recognize that there is more to do. That is why we announced earlier this year a series of pan-Canadian consultations on official languages as part of our broader commitment to linguistic duality and our two official languages.
    These consultations will permit us to follow up on the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality, which we launched in 2008 and which was an unprecedented government-wide investment of $1.1 billion over five years.
    The roadmap provided investments in a number of priority sectors, including health, justice, immigration, economic development, and the arts and culture. It resulted in a number of initiatives that have promoted both official languages in Canadian society and ensured that linguistic duality remains a distinguishing feature of the Government of Canada.



    The consultations demonstrated our government's desire to listen to the concerns and ideas of Canadians who are deeply committed to this country's two official languages. It is in the same spirit of openness and collaboration that the government has considered Bill C-419 in front of us today.
     Like the sponsor of this legislation, I along with the Prime Minister and cabinet believe that the 10 positions listed in the bill should be proficient in both official languages. We therefore support the intent of Bill C-419. However, we feel that there is a number of technical issues that need to be examined in front of committee so that the bill could be implemented responsibly and effectively. The government will therefore propose amendments that would be fully consistent with the spirit of the legislation but which would strengthen the bill and the language requirements it would create.


    Our government is determined to build on Canada’s sturdy foundations, which include a desire by English- and French-speaking Canadians to share a common future. Over the years, we have seen countless efforts to ensure that Canada’s official languages continue to be a strong part of our national identity.


    In particular, we have seen federal institutions over the last 40 years make important strides in making linguistic duality an integral part of their everyday operations. I assure all Canadians that their government is committed to building on this record of achievement and the record of national unity.


    Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
    Mr. Speaker, among the values I hold dear are respect for both official languages and the promotion of those languages. I live that value every day as a bilingual person. I always try to speak to people in their own language, so that we understand each other well. I think the officers of Parliament ought to be able to do the same.
    It is inconceivable that the officers of Parliament would not be able to perform their duties in both official languages. The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent has presented a bill covering the 10 officers of Parliament. These people occupy very senior positions in our system. Among them are the Auditor General of Canada, the Chief Electoral Officer, the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Privacy Commissioner and the Information Commissioner.


     As well, there are the Senate Ethics Officer, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, the Commissioner of Lobbying, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner and the President of the Public Service Commission.
    These are all people whose appointments require approval by resolution of the Senate, the House of Commons or both Houses of Parliament. They can be considered officers of Parliament based on the fact that we appoint them despite whatever relationship they have with the Houses.


     It is the NDP's opinion that bilingualism is one of the key qualifications for these positions. It is not just an asset, which is not a skill or something that should be considered apart from skills; it is an essential skill to fill these positions properly.
     It has been customary to appoint bilingual individuals, because the ability to speak both official languages is obviously part of being able to do the job. Unfortunately, recent appointments show that we need to entrench the government's responsibility in the law.
     I am very happy that the Conservative members are considering voting in favour of this bill. Since the Prime Minister himself has admitted it was a mistake to appoint a unilingual person to the job of Auditor General, it makes sense for the members opposite to support this bill in order to clarify the bilingualism requirements for these 10 officers of Parliament.


    I grew up as a francophone outside of Quebec. That really opened my eyes to the importance of having access to the French language throughout the country. I have met francophones from across the country. However, I would also like to point out that there are anglophones in Quebec who often speak about access to English within the province. In my riding, this is something that is of great concern. These people understand that it is important to have access to certain documentation and colloquialisms in their own language.
    Therefore, when we are talking about agents of Parliament, they need be able to understand all members of the House in their native language, in the language they are best able to communicate in. I think that is quite necessary if we are to properly go about democracy in this country.



     As my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent said so well, we want to make Canada a place where we live together side by side, respectfully, speaking either official language, and working together. If the officers of Parliament are not fully able to understand us in the House, it will be more difficult to build a good future for Canada.
     It seems to me that this is a major double standard. We talk about a bilingual country, but our parliamentary officers are not operating in both languages. The Constitution provides that English and French are the official languages of Canada. French and English have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of Parliament. Parliamentarians may use either French or English in the debates and other work of Parliament, and they work closely with the officers of Parliament. Therefore, I appeal to members from all parties to vote in favour of the bill by the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, which would clarify the bilingualism requirements for these 10 very important officers of Parliament.
     Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me time to speak on this bill.
    The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.


[Business of Supply]


Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act 

    That this House agrees with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, that is asking the government, with respect to the Investment Canada Act, to: (a) clarify the net benefit test; (b) include parameters concerning reciprocity; (c) improve the transparency of decisions; and (d) set specific criteria for state-owned companies to meet regarding net benefit requirements for foreign company takeover bids in order to protect the Canadian economy from potential foreign government interference.
    Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending December 10, 2012, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bill.
    In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bill be distributed now?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
     Mr. Speaker, I would like to say right at the outset that I am very honoured to be sharing my time with the very talented and eloquent member for LaSalle—Émard, who will be speaking in just a few minutes.
    Where to begin? I think all Canadians were profoundly stunned and disappointed on Friday evening when, in a very hastily convened press conference, thrown together at the last minute with very little advanced notice, we had the Prime Minister telling all of Canada, including the three-quarters of Canadians who have been profoundly concerned about the CNOOC takeover of Nexen, that the government would simply rubber-stamp it and push it through.
     Following the comments from Canadians flowing into Conservative members of Parliament, flowing into members of the opposition, such as the NDP, and on news websites, we can see that well over 90% of the comments that have been coming out have been wholly negative, given the government's completely irresponsible decision of Friday night.
    I want to go into a little bit of the background and I know my colleague from LaSalle—Émard will follow up as well. I say with profound dismay that when we have the Prime Minister standing up at a press conference and saying the CNOOC takeover of Nexen is a bad thing and then approving it in the same breath, that is a logical contradiction that Canadians will not swallow.
    The Prime Minister had a few tough words, basically saying that next time they will have some kind of excuse to approve these kinds of takeovers, but what the Prime Minister signalled on Friday was that Canada is for sale. When we look at the evolution of the government over the last six years, when we see that two-thirds of oil sands production is by foreign companies, whether they are state-owned or not, what we see is the very clear intent of the government to sell off Canada, regardless of the consequences.
    We can say on this side of the House that the New Democratic Party, the official opposition, consulted with Calgarians. I went out, as well as my colleagues from LaSalle—Émard, Scarborough and Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and we talked with Canadians. We said that it was not in the best interests of Canada. There was no net benefit to Canadians. We do not believe that this takeover should have been rubber-stamped by the government and we profoundly believe that Canadians deserve better than what the government has been doing over the past few years.
    New Democrats have always done the heavy lifting on the Investment Canada Act. We are the ones who raised concerns about the sellout of the Canadarm. We were the ones who raised concerns in the House around potash. We are the ones who fought in minority parliaments because we saw that those takeovers were not in Canada's interest. We were able, successfully, with the support of millions of Canadians across the country, to stop what would have been egregious sellouts.
    Since the government has become a majority government, it has, at no time, despite weird and amateurish decisions often taken at midnight, not disapproved a single takeover. That is a fact. That is an undeniable reality of the government. I think that is why so many Canadians look forward to 2015 when they will finally have a government that takes a responsible approach to foreign investment and a responsible approach to looking at these kinds of takeovers—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
    Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, we have Conservatives chortling and laughing here at the three-quarters of Canadians who raised concerns about CNOOC. They are free to laugh here, but I do not think they should go back to their constituencies and try to laugh in their constituents' faces, when three-quarters of their constituents said that they should be saying no to the CNOOC takeover of Nexen. We will be reminding their constituents that Conservatives have not been working in the public interest.
    What did we do two years ago? We brought forward under our former leader, Jack Layton, a motion that would start to rectify what has been an appallingly, nebulous, unclear, amateurish approach by the government on the Investment Canada Act. The Conservatives say this is the same approach as the Liberals. We know that the Liberals rubber-stamped thousands of takeovers, regardless of how many jobs were lost over the course of their mandate.


    The Conservatives made commitments to put in place an investment regime that made sense, that was clear for potential investors and also had the confidence of Canadians. They have not done so. They have not brought forward those amendments.
    In 2010 under Jack Layton's leadership, we brought forward a motion that said we needed a clearer net benefit test and a more transparent investment review process. We called for mandatory public hearings with affected communities, public disclosure of all conditions attached to the approval of a takeover, along with enforceable penalties for non-compliance. I will come back to this in a moment.
    It is absolutely essential to have a functioning investment Canada process and regime, and to have it clarify that the goal of the act is to encourage foreign investment that brings new capital and technology and creates jobs rather than simply seeking control of strategic Canadian resources.
    We brought that forward because we believe that foreign investment can be welcomed when it adds to technology and research and development and jobs in our country. However, we simply should not be rubber-stamping every single takeover without a serious examination, and most Canadians side with us on that. Canadians believe that prudent public policy demands there be a transparent process and a clear definition of net benefit.
    When we brought forward that motion, the Conservatives voted for it. It passed unanimously in the House. That was direction to the Prime Minister and the government to put in place an investment Canada regime that was clear. Other countries have clear processes; Canada does not. Canada has a nebulous, amateurish process that has been obviously reinforced by the government's amateurish approach on a lot of issues, and I mention the F-35 and many others.
    The reality is that the Conservative government just does not seem to get that public policy demands for a clear and transparent process, so that when those potential investors come forward they know the criteria, how net benefit will be defined, the hoops they will have to jump through, the commitments they need to make and, most important, that they need to keep those commitments. That is not rocket science. It is just a fundamental part of prudent public policy, that when those commitments are made, they have to be kept, when approval is given it is not a blank cheque, as the Conservative government has given, but rather it is a true commitment on behalf of that foreign company that is taking over the Canadian one. It is very simple and straightforward.
    Tragically, we have seen that under the Conservative government, whether it is Falconbridge, Stelco, Inco, Alcan or whatever commitments were made behind closed doors. We were told in each one of those cases that the government would ensure that jobs would not be lost. In each one of those cases, and in so many others, hundreds of jobs were lost. Once that rubber stamp was given by the Conservative government, it became a blank cheque for the company to do whatever it wanted to do, including laying off employees, shutting down production and shutting down some of the mills it took over.
    When production facilities are shut down, that leads to a net loss of jobs. That is one of the reasons we have lost more than half a million manufacturing jobs in this country during the course of the Conservative watch. Over six years, 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been eviscerated, in part because the Conservatives approve these rubber-stamp investment Canada takeovers without any sort of criterion that ensures that those commitments are kept.
    We brought forward the motion and it passed unanimously in Parliament, and now two years later we are still in a complete grey zone—nebulous, ridiculous.
    Canada is for sale. CNOOC has just received a blank cheque to do whatever it wants with the Nexen headquarters, to do whatever it wants with the Nexen facilities, to do whatever it wants with that asset, which it was to Canada. That is a fundamental reality of the Conservative government. It is irresponsible, and it is for many Canadians unforgiveable.
    Under an NDP government we would do what we did two years ago. We would bring constructive motions and resolutions and bills to Parliament that would put a framework around investment Canada. We would have a clear definition of net benefit that would ensure as well that there were public consultations as part of the process, that would make sure that the net benefit actually incurred to Canadians. Under an NDP government, investment in Canada would be handled professionally.


    Mr. Speaker, first, I want to apologize for laughing at the member when he said responsible government and NDP in the same sentence because, of course, the NDP members were the people who voted against Canada's economic action plan that actually has kept us above and beyond all the other countries in the world as far as economic performance goes.
    I want to ask the member if he now regrets the decision to vote against all of the roads, the bridges, the recreation centres, the hockey rinks and all the other things that created a positive economic atmosphere and so many jobs in Canada.
    I also want to know if this is the same NDP that is suggesting we stop tanker traffic on the west coast. That is what I have heard from it time and time again, that it would stop all tanker traffic on the west coast. Indeed, that tanker traffic brings oil and gas to many small communities across the west coast. It creates many jobs there. These are the same NDP members who want to shut down the oil sands, where I come from, that created 500,000 jobs across the country and is going to create another 300,000 in the next few years. Therefore, is that what he means by responsible government?
    My last question is: Does he support refining and upgrading capacity in Canada and more jobs in Canada, or does he not?


    Mr. Speaker, seriously, that is all they could come up with, after slapping the faces of millions of Canadians who felt that the CNOOC takeover of Nexen was not in Canada's interest, after the failed press conference on Friday, where the Prime Minister just babbled on for a number of minutes, where the government completely failed Canadians by not putting in place a sort of transparency or definition of net benefit. Are the only questions they can come up with this kind of dated partisan rhetoric?
    Canadians deserve better than what the Conservatives are doing. This is important public policy. This is a decision about which we have seen thousands of comments over the course of the weekend, thousands of Canadians saying the Conservatives were wrong to sell us out. They were wrong to say here is a for sale sign on Canadian resources and on Canadian jobs. They were wrong to do that, yet the Conservatives have these childish comments in the House of Commons, rather than answering or asking questions that have some substance around the motion before us today. This shows why the Conservatives need to be turfed out as soon as possible, in 2015 or sooner.
    Mr. Speaker, it was an honour to second the motion today by my esteemed colleague in regard to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce wanting to get clarity as to what net benefit means. Even though the Prime Minister did babble on on Friday, he did not deal with the fact that net benefit has not been defined. Nor did he provide any kind of information as to when these new rules they put in place are actually going to be released publicly. We also had the Minister of Industry saying, on the weekend, if we want to get more information about this deal, we should find out from China.
    I would like to ask the member for his comments with respect to ministerial responsibility and how the industry minister seems to have abdicated that by saying that Canadians should go learn their information from a foreign government rather than their own.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Scarborough Southwest for his question and also for the leadership he has shown on this issue. He has been one of the dynamic team from industry, energy and natural resources that has been working together to actually represent Canadians in the House of Commons.
    This is what I find so disconcerting, and so many Canadians do too. I know Canadians are contacting Conservative offices today. They are phoning, emailing and asking what gives. They are saying that the Conservatives promised to be responsible but that this is an irresponsible act.
    Now we have the Minister of Industry saying they do not have any information, that if we want any information on what CNOOC is actually putting forward we should go speak to the Chinese government. That is unbelievable, the lack of seriousness of the government, how amateurish it is on important files like the F-35s and Investment Canada, files that have an influence over Canadians' lives, and we see just an incredible amateurish gong show on the other side. Canadians deserve better than what the Conservatives are bringing to government.


    Mr. Speaker, the press conference that the Prime Minister of Canada gave last Friday at the end of the day was quite surprising. On the one hand, the Prime Minister said that Canada was not for sale, and on the other hand, he said that he was giving his approval to the biggest transaction ever to be made under the Investment Canada Act: he simply accepted the takeover of Nexen, a Canadian corporation, by CNOOC, a state-owned Chinese company.
    On the one hand, he said that Canada supports the free market and, on the other, he gave his approval to a sale that distorts the marketplace, an offer that no private business can match.
    Furthermore, he handed control of our natural resources over to an economy where the free market does not really exist. For the past few months, the Minister of Industry has gone out of his way to say that the rules under the Investment Canada Act were clear, and that the transactions that would be approved would represent a net benefit for Canada.
    Now here comes the Prime Minister, who is no longer quite so sure. He says that takeovers of the oil sands by foreign state-owned corporations are not something that will happen again.
     In 2010, the Conservative government and the House unanimously agreed to review the Investment Canada Act, to clarify the meaning of net benefit and to hold public hearings on takeovers of our industries. Two years later, the Minister of Industrystill has done nothing about it. The government waited for storms to hit the Canadian economy, for investors to be confused, for provinces to be baffled and for commentators to be unanimous in their criticism of the vague criteria in our foreign investment legislation.
     The Prime Minister has once again promised to review the criteria on net benefit. Well, no. Rather than taking advantage of the crisis to clarify our investment rules finally and to schedule public hearings, the Prime Minister has added a new expression to the rather hazy list in our Investment Canada Act.
     After guessing at what the government meant by net benefit for Canada, investors will now have to unscramble the equally cryptic criteria that make up “exceptional circumstances”. They are once again offering vague rules simply to sugar-coat the pill of two separate takeovers of our strategic energy resources by foreign governments. Moreover, Canadians still do not know the conditions that CNOOC and Petronas will have to meet.
     The new regulations are not enough: nothing in them clarifies the net benefit test; there are no assurances that public consultations will be held with Canadians, who will bear the consequences of these takeovers; there are no assurances of mandatory disclosure of the guarantees given by investors or that they will actually be enforced in a transparent and responsible manner; there is no improved reciprocity for Canadian investors outside Canada; there are no assurances that governments' records of interference in the activities of state-owned corporations will be reviewed; and there are no guarantees that the strategic importance of the asset concerned will be taken into consideration.
     In allowing the takeovers of Nexen and Progress Energy, the Prime Minister says they represent a net benefit for Canada. In the same breath, he announces that the rules will now be changed for state-owned corporations wishing to acquire companies operating in the oil sands—is that right?—but not for other sectors of the economy. What is deeply disturbing is that the Prime Minister has decided that this sector will be protected, but not others.
     One Globe and Mail columnist wrote:



    More profoundly than that, Mr. Harper's populist and ideological decision to draw a line in the oil sands could be one of the most influential rulings by Canada on world economic affairs in decades, as the global economy continues its seismic reordering in the era of emerging superpowers led by China.... The risk is that the world sees Canada as closed for business....


     I wonder what the situation is for Canadian businesses in other strategic sectors of our economy, such as agriculture. I am thinking of Viterra, which has just been bought by Glencore. What about sectors such as mining, forestry, the aerospace industry and the high-tech and manufacturing sectors? Will those sectors not be protected?
     The Conservatives, who boast that they are the guardians of Canada's economy, totally lack any long-term vision or understanding of industry or resources as a whole.
     They are unable to develop a consistent policy to ensure that Canada fully benefits from the positive impact that foreign investment can have. They are incapable of negotiating conditions that would meet the net-benefit-for-Canada test or subsequently to establish mechanisms to enforce it.
     The recent past is one of broken promises by foreign investors, but especially of the Conservatives' lax approach to protecting jobs and research and development opportunities.
     The Stelco closing in 2009 resulted in 1,500 workers being laid off in Nanticoke and Hamilton. The shutdown of appliance manufacturer Mabe in the east end of Montreal cost 700 workers their jobs. Let us not forget the 1,300 Electrolux jobs that will be lost in L'Assomption, in Lanaudière, when the Swedish appliance giant relocates. There are also the 600 jobs that were lost when the White Birch paper plant shut down in Quebec.
     Eric Reguly wrote in the Globe and Mail:



    In many cases, some or all these promises have been broken, leading to a hollowing-out of Corporate Canada. Exhibit A is Hamilton, once a thriving steel town....
    The new 'net benefit' test must be clearly defined and easily enforced. It has to be transparent. It must come with a defined set of sanctions...if benefit promises are broken. And it has to come with the understanding that Canadian companies investing in, say, China, will be treated equally fairly, even if they are not allowed to own 100 per cent of a Chinese company.


    Canadians no longer have faith in the Conservatives' ability to negotiate conditions that will benefit the Canadian economy, create jobs and comply with our environmental standards. The recent announcements are tangible evidence of the Conservatives' total lack of strategy. This reeks of improvisation.
    Unlike the Conservative government, the NDP is clear. It is proposing that Canada, along with the provinces, identify Canada's strategic sectors and comparative advantages.
    The NDP is also proposing that we develop an energy and industrial policy that would use these comparative advantages as leverage in negotiations for agreements and foreign investment in Canada.
    Lastly, the NDP supports an in-depth review of the Investment Canada Act, including: a transparent public consultation process; conditions regarding jobs, the environment, communities, headquarters, research and development, and intellectual property; oversight mechanisms and penalties if the conditions are violated.
    The official opposition is prepared to do its share in working together on a process that will satisfy Canadians, as well as Canadian and foreign investors, so that Canada can responsibly and strategically unlock the potential of its resources and so that the industrial spinoffs are felt in all regions of Canada. The government must also include all of Canada's strategic industrial sectors.
    It is time to get to work.


    Following the press conference of last Friday, I would like to strengthen the motion by proposing the following amendment. I move:
    That the motion be amended by adding, after the word “interference,” the following: “and calls on the government to hold full and public consultations on the proposed guidelines announced by the Prime Minister on December 7, 2012 and on previously promised changes to the Investment Canada Act.”


    I must inform hon. members that an amendment to an opposition motion cannot be proposed without the consent of the mover of the motion. Consequently, I ask the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster whether he consents to this proposed amendment. I only need a yes or a no.
    Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to make a speech, but the answer is yes, of course.
    The amendment is in order.



    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Burlington.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for her speech and the work that she does on the industry committee. Nonetheless, I think the NDP members should be careful about using the Hamilton example, where U.S. Steel purchased Stelco, which was bankrupt and would not likely be in existence today if it were not for U.S. Steel. Right next door another purchase was made, this time of Dofasco by ArcelorMittal, which is doing very well in that same business of steel in that same city. The foreign investment in Dofasco has made a significant difference to that community. Therefore, I would be very careful if I were the New Democrats in using that example.
    I was on the industry committee a couple of years ago and the Conservatives put forward a plan to study the Investment Canada Act, which was turned down by the Liberals, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP on that committee. I can clearly recall the NDP talking about there being no need to discuss that act then.
    Does the critic think it was a mistake for the NDP to stop us reviewing the Investment Canada Act a couple of years ago?


    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, and his comments would suggest that he is interested in studying the Investment Canada Act. I am more than ready to do so. His question suggests that he is interested in studying it. As some have already said and as some Conservative ministers have said, it is important to do so.
    I think it is now or never when it comes to reviewing the Investment Canada Act at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, and to hearing from experts in order to do a thorough review.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the circumstances surrounding the sale of Nexen, at a time when there is an extreme labour shortage in Alberta. In Newfoundland, the shortage of tradespeople is forcing employers to recruit workers from Ireland, Norway and all over the place.
    Who is going to work on this site? Temporary Chinese workers?
    In China, a well-paid tradesman earns $65 a month. In Alberta, young people who work in the oil industry earn $65 an hour. I wonder how much the Chinese workers will be paid and whether China will allow them to go back home with salaries that are equivalent to what a minister earns in their country. I wonder how this is all going to work.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the question.
    In talking to various players in the natural resources and mining sectors, we learned that the shortage of skilled labour is a growing concern. That is why I mentioned in my speech that we need responsible development, which would take into account human resources, but also territorial resources and communities. It will be a tremendous challenge.
    As I already mentioned, we see that CNOOC's offer to purchase Nexen was quite considerable. No other private company could compete. This will also have consequences for the market.


    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to the opposition day motion. I am honoured to share my time with the terrific member for Ajax—Pickering.
    Foreign investment plays an important role in the Canadian economy. Foreign investors bring with them knowledge, capabilities and technology, which can increase the productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of Canadian firms. These investments frequently help Canadian-based companies to expand and create jobs for Canadians. Recognizing the importance of investment flows into the country, Canada has a broad framework in place to promote trade and investment, while at the same time protecting Canadian interests.
    It is important to note that investment flows both into and out of Canada. In fact, in the past several years Canadian companies have invested more abroad than foreign companies have invested in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, the stock of foreign investments into Canada reached $607.5 billion in 2011, while Canadian investments abroad reached $684.5 billion. The Investment Canada Act provides a mechanism to review significant acquisitions of Canadian enterprises by non-Canadian companies to determine if they are likely to be of net benefit to Canada. It also provides a mechanism to review investments that could be injurious to our national security.
    I will take this opportunity to describe for members how the Investment Canada Act works and how decisions are taken by the Minister of Industry.
     The administration of the act is shared between two ministers and their respective departments. The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages is responsible for the review of investments involving cultural businesses and the Minister of Industry is responsible for the review of all other investments. The Minister of Industry is also responsible for all other aspects of the administration of the act, including initiating enforcement measures. My comments today will focus only on those investments that are the responsibility of the Minister of Industry.
    When a foreign investor proposes to acquire a Canadian business, the investor has certain responsibilities under the act. Foreign investors must either file a notification or an application for a review.
     An investor must file a notification where there is an establishment of a new Canadian business or where there is a direct acquisition of control of a Canadian business with assets below the established threshold. Indirect acquisitions of control by investors from WTO countries are also subject to notification. This is triggered when a foreign investor requires control of a Canadian business indirectly by acquiring a company incorporated outside of Canada, which has a Canadian subsidiary.
     For an investment which is not subject to a net benefit review under the act, where an investor has provided the information required by the regulations respecting the Investment Canada Act, the investor has met its obligations under the act. Information required under the regulations includes the names of the investors and the Canadian business, their respective addresses, a description of the business of the latter and the level of its assets.
    Where a proposed investment is subject to a net benefit review under the act, the investor cannot implement the transaction without the approval of the minister responsible for the act. The investor must provide certain information as part of the filing of an application, including his or her plan for the Canadian business. Acquisitions are subject to review when the assets of the Canadian business to be acquired are equal to or above thresholds established under the act.
     The threshold which applies to WTO members is adjusted each year by an amount equal to the change in the nominal gross domestic product. For 2012, the threshold for WTO members is $330 million. The threshold for cultural businesses and non-WTO members remains at a level established in 1985. It is $5 million for direct acquisitions or $50 million for indirect acquisitions, a much lower threshold for those industries.
    The act provides the Minister of Industry with an initial 45 days to complete the review of the proposed investment and to make a determination of the net benefit. The Minister of Industry can extend that review period, if necessary, by 30 days. The review period can be extended further if both the investor and the Minister of Industry both agree.


    The Minister of Industry approves an application for review only where he or she is satisfied, based on the plans, undertakings and other representations of the investor, that the investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada. In making this determination of net benefit, the Minister of Industry must consider the factors listed in section 20 of the act.
    For those in the House who do not know this, these six criteria are clearly indicated on the website and are easily found. They state:
a. the effect of the investment on the level and nature of economic activity in Canada, including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the effect on employment, on resource processing, on the utilization of parts, components and services produced in and on exports from Canada;
b. the degree and significance of participation by Canadians in the Canadian business or new Canadian business and in any industry or industries in Canada of which the Canadian business or new Canadian business forms or would form a part;
c. the effect of the investment on productivity, industrial efficiency, technological development, product innovation and product variety in Canada;
d. the effect of the investment on competition within any industry or industries in Canada;
e. the compatibility of the investment with national industrial, economic and cultural policies, taking into consideration industrial, economic and cultural policy objectives enunciated by the government or legislature of any province likely to be significantly affected by the investment; and
f. the contribution of the investment to Canada's ability to compete in world markets.
    Also, for investors of state-owned enterprises, which has been an issue of late, the guidelines for the net benefit assessment investments by state-owned enterprises published under the Investment Canada Act applies to these proposed investments. The guidelines clarify that in the review under the ICA, as part of the assessment of the factors listed in section 20 of the act, the minister will examine: one, the corporate governance and reporting structure of the non-Canadian, including adherence to free market principles and Canadian laws and practices; two, how and the extent to which the non-Canadian is owned or controlled by a state; and three, whether the Canadian business can be acquired while continuing to have the ability to operate on a commercial basis.
    As indicated in these guidelines, the examples of undertakings that address these issues include: the appointment of Canadians as independent directors on the board; employment of Canadians in senior management positions; the incorporation of the business in Canada; and a Canadian stock exchange listing.
    The Investment Canada Act has a very clear net benefit test listed for all to see in writing on Industry Canada's website, including specific criteria on state-owned enterprises. Our government has acted to ensure that these criteria are up-to-date and reflect the evolution of foreign investment proposals to ensure that while Canada remains open for business, it is not for sale to foreign governments.


    Mr. Speaker, like three-quarters of Canadians who said in recent weeks that they were opposed to the CNOOC takeover, I was stunned on Friday night that the Prime Minister would rubber-stamp something that would have such an egregious impact right across the country due to CNOOC's poor environmental human rights record, the threat of job losses in Calgary and for a wide variety of reasons. That is why three-quarters of Canadians said no to the CNOOC deal, yet the Conservatives rubber-stamped it.
    Would the member explain why the Conservatives have systematically opposed public consultations and refused to consult with Canadians who actually pay their salaries and who are their bosses in their ridings. Why have the Conservatives not stood and said that this is a wrong decision that should not have taken place and that they should have listened to Canadians?


    Mr. Speaker, the people of Canada elected a majority Conservative government because they knew we would deal with issues and policies in a responsible and effective manner, which would not happen under an NDP government.
    The fact is that the criteria is laid out clearly in writing and in the act for net benefit, including the criteria for net benefit for foreign-owned enterprises. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Industry reviewed those issues as the law stands today and they came to the conclusion that there was a net benefit to Canada based on the criteria outlined and on the submission by that organization.
    The Prime Minister, in a very responsible way, clearly indicated that there were only 15 companies in total operating the oil sands resource. Also, as a government, we needed to take a strong position that in future no foreign-owned companies would be able to take a stronger position in the oil sands.
    Mr. Speaker, a couple of years ago, the Prime Minister called for a greater sense of transparency and more accountability on this issue.
    In listening to the Prime Minister's comments, he made reference to “exceptional circumstances”. I think there are millions of Canadians coast to coast who would be interested in knowing what “exceptional circumstances” are.
     Why is there a separate set of rules specifically for the oil sands? Does this mean that the government does not believe that other sectors are as important? What would the criteria be if there were an offer for a potash corporation today? Would it be of net benefit?
    Mr. Speaker, I encourage the member opposite to read the statement by the Prime Minister on why the oil sands was chosen in this case.
    As I just stated, there are very few players in the development of the oil sands. The issue today is that we need to look at where we are going as a country in the development of that Canadian resource. Because there are so few players, 15 at present, the decision was made that we needed to ensure that this Canadian resource, in future, would not progress further to foreign-owned entities and that there should be some guidelines, some criteria, placed in that area. That is why it was chosen. It is very simple. The Prime Minister stated it clearly at the press conference.
    I do not understand why, if this is such an issue to the Liberal Party, it did not want to study the criteria in the Investment Canada Act two years ago when I was on the industry committee in a minority government? We said that we should be studying the criteria in the Investment Canada Act but the Liberal Party was opposed to studying that. The Liberal members wanted to deal with other items that they considered to have more political importance at the time. I think that was a mistake. I am glad to hear that those members are at least interested in the topic now.
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague, the member for Burlington, for doing an excellent job of laying out the criteria under which net benefit is assessed, the specific guidelines that govern evaluations of proposed investments by state-owned enterprises, and the way in which that net benefit test has evolved under the government and been improved under the government. It is important for Canadians to understand that, especially after the very important historic announcement by the Prime Minister on Friday.
    I will now take a few minutes to explain the review process under the Investment Canada Act. As part of the review process, the investment review division of Industry Canada consults with various federal government departments that have policy responsibility for the industrial sector involved in a proposed acquisition. It also consults with the Competition Bureau and with all the provinces and territories in which the Canadian business has substantial activities or assets.
    We should not underestimate the importance of these consultations. The member for Burnaby—New Westminster keeps challenging us publicly to consult with Canadians. He clearly has no familiarity with the existing mechanism for consultation that the Investment Canada Act provides for. Any person or group who has a view on a specific investment proposal may provide that view in writing to the minister, as provided for in the Guidelines — Administrative Procedures that we have today.
    These guidelines state that where unsolicited representations are received that could have an adverse bearing on the determination of net benefit, investors will be advised of the substance of those representations and given ample opportunity to respond to them.
    This is very important because we value the principle of fairness. We value the integrity of our consultation process. We want it to deliver a good result for Canadians, a result whereby investments do generate benefit for this country, and that means we need to sequence both the receipt of representations and, where warranted, their publication in a very careful and deliberate way.
    Once the consulted parties have provided their input, discussions take place with the investor and legally enforceable undertakings are discussed with the investor.
    The investment review division staff also perform an independent analysis of the acquisition in light of the six net benefit factors that are in section 20 of the act, very ably described by my colleague. In performing the review, the minister establishes a baseline against which to review a proposed transaction.
    The minister looks at the Canadian business that the investor proposes to acquire and takes into account the business' likely prospects on a stand-alone basis if the investment did not take place. The minister assesses whether the business is a healthy company with good prospects or whether it is in financial distress. Different sectors are moving in different directions in today's economy and this is an important context for any decision.
    The minister also takes into account the Canadian business' key strengths, areas requiring improvement and the key business challenges it is facing. The minister also takes into account what the foreign investor brings to the investment, for instance, whether the investor is bringing capital or expertise that is not accessible to the Canadian business.
    We need to be clear, as the member for Burnaby—New Westminster was, about the different contexts in which acquisitions takes place: Stelco or Dofasco; the oil sands or some branches of manufacturing; advanced manufacturing or the manufacturing that has not changed since the middle of the last century. These contexts help to determine the calculation that the minister has to make on the basis of consultation and on the basis of the review process that I am describing.
    The bottom line is that this review process is rigorous. Where an investment is subject to review, the minister must approve an investor's application for review even before the investor can implement the acquisition. The minister only approves applications where he or she is satisfied, based on the plans, undertakings and other representations, that the investment is likely to be of net benefit.
    The investors generally need to provide plans and undertakings to support their view that their investments are likely to be of benefit. In 2011, the investment review division received and processed 634 notifications. As well, the Minister of Industry approved 15 applications for review. All approved investments are subject to monitoring and an evaluation of the implementation of the plans and undertakings of the investors, ordinarily performed a year and a half after the acquisition. The act provides for remedies where the minister is not satisfied that an investor is meeting its obligations.


    The decision to take enforcement measures under the act is based on the overall performance of the investor in implementing plans and undertakings, but, obviously, these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Decisions can, however, include the dramatic step in which the government seeks an order from a Superior Court for the imposition of fines of up to $10,000 per day or the full or partial dissolution of an investment.
    With reference to the transactions the minister approved on Friday, the minister stated that the investors satisfied him under the Investment Canada Act and that, under state-owned enterprise guidelines which existed at the time of the review, their proposed transactions are likely to be of net benefit to Canada. In making this determination, the minister carefully considered plans, undertakings and other information submitted by the investors.
    The minister also stated that to demonstrate that the transaction is likely to be of net benefit, the investors have made significant commitments to Canada. For instance, with regard to the recent proposed transactions, the investors have provided undertakings on matters such as: governance, including commitments to transparency and disclosure; commercial orientation, including an adherence to Canadian laws and practices, as well as free-market principles; and employment in capital investments, which demonstrate a long-term commitment to the development of the Canadian economy.
    Our government has applied the rules responsibly. We have revised the guidelines to ensure a clear and rigorous approach to the new context of state-owned enterprises.
    I will note a certain irony in today's debate. The opposition motion before us relates to a resolution of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. We, like the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, are in favour of investment in this country, investment that is of net benefit and creates jobs. Canada has benefited, as of today, from roughly $608 billion of inward investment. That has allowed Canadian companies, on the basis of reciprocity, to undertake upward of $685 billion of investment outwardly in virtually all countries of the world.
    What we have not heard from the members opposite and what their motion today disguises is a reaffirmation of what we know to be their policy, that they are opposed to investment, not just the Nexen and Progress deals and not just closer scrutiny of state-owned enterprises, which is what our government is enacting with the decision on Friday and in which a lot of work happened earlier to bring about those decisions. Opposition members are opposed to something much more dramatic, which is free market, private sector investment in this country, which, in a globalized economy, as we know, is the absolute lifeblood of the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity that Canadians want to continue to develop on the basis of which we have achieved our standard of living over centuries.
     It is not just a matter of this decade or century that we have depended on investment from outside our borders and on making investments outside our borders for our prosperity, it happened throughout the 20th century. It certainly was a driver of Canada's success in the 19th century and, for centuries before that, Canada has had an open economy based on global markets where, yes, we have had to determine the net benefit to us, what our national interest was, but where we have thought to not only keep our own economy open but be advocates of an open global economy, one where companies owned by private interests, including Canadians and sometimes not including Canadians, are attracted to our shores by a beneficial tax regime, by a commercially-oriented rule of law, by enforcement and implementation of the rules in this country, something this government has taken absolutely seriously starting in 2006. It is in that spirit that Friday's decision was made.
    We will continue to refine the rules and guidelines governing Investment Canada under the Investment Canada Act. We have said again and again that we are not prepared to rubber-stamp every investment in this country, those involving state-owned enterprises need particular scrutiny, nor are we willing to put up a wall the way the NDP has said time and again that it would do should the opportunity ever be given to it.



    Mr. Speaker, the issue before us today is the net benefit to Canadians.
    In addressing this issue, we ask what the Canadian economy needs and we see weaknesses when it comes to innovation in certain economic sectors.
    Therefore, I wonder if the Parliamentary Secretary can answer the following question.


    After 40 years of investment in innovation in horizontal drilling technology, what protections do we have that CNOOC or Nexen will not export this technology and basically take that 40 years of investment away and use it at their own leisure around the world?
    Mr. Speaker, the answer to that question is very simple. Canadians have the protection afforded to them by the laws of Canada, by the rule of law upheld in the commercial sector across the board in this country. We are proud of the fact that we have among the most robust regimes in the world governing our intellectual property. We know that the NDP delights in poking sticks into the system, threatening to undermine it, whether it relates to pharmaceutical drugs or cultural industries. It blows hot and cold on the rule of law, especially when it involves intellectual property, innovation and research and development, which are affected by even small changes to the intellectual property regime.
    Anything that is protected, anything that has been invented by a Canadian and to whom a Canadian patent belongs, including a company or person holding that patent, will be afforded the most robust protections available on the planet. We are very proud of that fact.


    Mr. Speaker, I have lots of question, particularly considering the fact that in 2010 the Prime Minister promised to create a clearer and more transparent process for the review of foreign investment. We are still left with an awful lot of questions and not very much clarity. For example, we do not know, and perhaps my hon. colleague could tell us, what the definition is of the exceptional circumstances in which the government would allow further investments in the oil sands, particularly by state-owned enterprises. Is there some reason there is a set of rules specifically for the oil sands and no other sectors? Is the government really saying there are no other important strategic sectors that it would treat in a similar way?
    The fact the government has not set out the sectors that it is going to protect and has just picked one and left it at that shows how ad hoc its approach is. It shows the lack of a plan, even though the Prime Minister promised two years ago to bring one forward.
    If the member has time, I would also like to know whether the government's foreign investment criteria comply with any of the conditions requested by Premier Redford.
    Mr. Speaker, a question like that is revealing because it shows how far the Liberal Party, even today, is from understanding the reality of the Canadian economy. For someone on that side, perhaps it is not surprising to hear him asking why the oil sands are special and deserve special scrutiny. It is because they are the object of unparalleled interest in investment circles globally. As the Prime Minister has said, state-owned enterprises have been particularly active recently in acquiring companies involved in the Canadian oil sands, and others may have followed suit without clarification of the rules.
    Does the Liberal Party realize, as the NDP clearly does not, that the oil sands are an asset? Clearly, some of the statements we heard by Liberal members of Parliament about Alberta would lead one to question whether they understand the importance of this sector, of this asset, for the Canadian economy as a whole.
    As the Prime Minister said, of those proven oil resources not controlled by governments—and governments control very many of them, whether in Latin America or the Gulf—some 60% are in Canada's oil sands. That, in and of itself, should justify very close scrutiny. It should justify clear rules and guidelines. That is exactly what Canadians were given by the Prime Minister on Friday.
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad that I am the next speaker, because it gives me a chance to answer the question by my hon. colleague.
    Yes, the Liberal Party understands the importance of the oil sands, and my question did not suggest otherwise. In fact, my question asked if the government really believed that it was the only such sector.
    Yes, it is an important sector. That is why the Atlantic Liberal caucus was there in the last month, meeting with people there. Of course, there are a lot of Atlantic Canadians working there. It is important to the national economy. I certainly enjoyed my visit and found it very interesting.
    We recognize its importance, but is he really suggesting that it is the only important sector of our economy? Is he really suggesting that the government should not have an overall strategy? Is he saying that our economy is so weak in other respects that there is no other sector in the country worthy of this kind of preservation and protection? I find it a very strange policy for him to have said that the only important asset to us happens to be in one province, the province of the Prime Minister. Yes, it is an important asset, but if that is their strategy it simply shows their lack of planning, their lack of an overall strategy and the fact that the Conservatives are giving a knee-jerk reaction to what is before them without much planning.
    I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this motion. As a matter of fact, the industry committee last spring passed my motion to study the Investment Canada Act and to look at these questions like the net benefit test and how it ought to be reformed. However, the Conservative Party of course has the majority on the committee and defines or controls decisions on what the committee will study, and the committee has not chosen to study this topic. I can let people draw their own conclusions about that, because these meetings at committee on what we are to discuss are all held in camera, at the Conservatives' insistence. I cannot say what happened at those meetings, but I can certainly let people draw their own conclusions about them.
    I suspect it is because the Prime Minister's Office prefers that these discussions be held in private, even though the Prime Minister promised back in 2010 to bring more clarity and transparency to the process of foreign investment review.
    I very much look forward to the debate to see what members on the government benches think about the need to clarify the net benefit test or to change this process in various ways, and what they think the criteria should be for investments by state-owned enterprises.
    As well, I believe the issues of reciprocity and transparency need to be fully explored. I hope there will be some discussion around what sectors of our economy besides the energy sector ought to be protected from the potential for government interference or state-owned enterprises from outside Canada.
    Perhaps the most important issue, though, in terms of foreign investment will be how we make sense of the Conservative government's incoherent policy that it seems to be making on the fly.
    Liberals believe that foreign investment is necessary and welcome in Canada, but we believe that we have to let the world know that while Canada is open for investment, it is not for sale. We have been clear that the rules surrounding foreign takeovers under the Investment Canada Act must be made transparent and be applied consistently. We do not see that, though, with the government. What we saw announced last Friday is likely to make the process even more arbitrary and even more subjective.
    Ever since the failed potash deal, we have been asking the government to clarify the definition of net benefit, and the Conservative Party has failed to do so, despite the Prime Minister's promise otherwise. Considering his promise to provide more clarity and transparency to the review of foreign investment and the whole process itself, let us examine the kinds of questions that the Conservatives' mismanagement of this file have left unanswered.
    First, what exactly is the definition of “exceptional circumstances”, those circumstances in which the government would allow more acquisitions in the oil sands by state-owned enterprises. We do not know; that is up in the air. There has been no definition of that. It is a new phrase that the Prime Minister has pulled out of some hat.
    Second, would the CNOOC and Petronas deals be approved under these new guidelines to be applied from here on? We do not know the answer to that.
    Why is there a separate set of rules specifically for the oil sands and for no other sectors? Are there no other sectors the government thinks are particularly important strategically? For example, there are many who argue that shipbuilding is an important strategic industry, because if we were in a conflict, for example, we had better have the ability to build our own ships, or perhaps aerospace is a strategic industry. There are so many other areas, including high tech and so forth, that are important for various reasons.


    We should examine the reasons why a particular industry is strategic, critical and worthy of this kind of protection from the government, when others are not. What is it that is particularly important about these industries? I am not questioning that the oil sands sector is an important one, but are there no others? That is the point. If they are going to talk about others, which others and why? Is it because of the industry's capacity to create jobs in the future? Is it because of some other important criteria? This is the discussion we should have had two years ago, not just now.
    Does this mean the government does not believe that other sectors are as important? That is the point. What would be the criteria today, if there were an offer for PotashCorp? We do not really know. That is another question up in the air. Would it be net benefit, net benefit plus exceptional circumstances, or something else entirely?
     We also do not know whether CNOOC, the Chinese company that the government approved to purchase Nexen, improved its original proposal to meet the concerns raised by Canadians, particularly, for example, those discussed by Premier Redford of Alberta. For instance, she said that in her view at least half of the directors on the board of Nexen should be Canadian. My own view is that they should have a majority, but I am not very far from Premier Redford on that point. We have to assume that has not happened because we have not heard it from the government. However, the Conservatives, despite all their promises of transparency and clarity, have not told us whether that is the case or what other conditions have been met or what the details of the agreement are.
    What changed in relation to the Petronas deal to make it acceptable now, when the Conservatives determined it was not a net benefit to Canada earlier this fall? What happened in that deal that made the government change? We do not know. The Prime Minister, in all his transparency, has not told us because, apparently, as Canadians, we do not deserve to know. It is not important that we should know. The Conservatives feel we should rely on them and trust them. That is the message.
    Did the Conservatives get any guarantees that Canadian companies would have reciprocity in China? We do not know the answer to that. Do we know whether any of our businesses would have an easier time operating there? There is no indication to that effect. Industry Canada documents state:
    Non-controlling minority interests in Canadian businesses proposed by foreign [state-owned enterprises], including joint ventures, will continue to be welcome in the development of Canada's economy.
     That is the statement that came with the announcement on Friday. Therefore, the government would approve other CNOOC-type deals, as long as they involved only minority interests. What is the definition of a “minority interest”? Is it 20%, 30%, 40%? We know that in a widely held public company, they do not have to have 50% to have effective control. It could be a lot less than that, sometimes as little as 20%. Is that what the government means?
    What we do not know is what would happen if Nexen were to apply to the Alberta government to expand dramatically or to go into other areas and get other leases and become a much larger player in the oil sands than it is now. If the Conservatives are concerned about that happening, what measures are there to prevent it? I do not see any.
    The most ironic thing, though, about last Friday's decision is that while the Conservatives are dead set against Canadian state-owned companies being involved in the oil sands, we see now that they are perfectly content to allow foreign state-owned enterprises from China or Malaysia to be involved in the oil sands. It is quite a thing. I find it incomprehensible as a matter of fact.
    An hon. member: It is a contradiction.
    Hon. Geoff Regan: It is a bit of a contradiction.
    Mr. Speaker, as I noted earlier, following the 2010 PotashCorp decision, we called on the government to ensure more transparency with regard to the decision-making process surrounding foreign acquisitions. In fact, the Prime Minister committed to doing that. Our request included asking for greater detail and defining of the net benefit test, and for a more accountable and transparent review process so that Canadians could know what was being negotiated. We have also asked to increase the clarity around the role of the affected province or provinces, and to provide a mechanism for their input.


    As far as we can tell, because we have not heard otherwise, the government had no consultation with the provinces. Fortunately Premier Redford came out publicly in a letter to talk about what her view was, but we never heard if the government went to ask her or her government's views and thoughts on how to deal with this situation. With respect to conditions that can be attached to a transaction, we have said that these must be completely transparent and easily enforceable.
    Finally, we have also introduced the notion of reciprocity. We are not the only ones to do so. I hear many commentators talking about the importance of that, about reciprocity of access to the country of the purchaser. There is the question about whether countries buying from Canada have to give the exact same access in their own country, or whether it should be access that has equal value and equal impact.
    It seems to me that what we are looking for is something that would provide a benefit to Canada that is equal to what another country is getting by investing here. I do not think that it needs to be exactly the same kind of access, as long as we are getting something that is of an equivalent worth, that there is a quid pro quo in the transaction. There is an awful lot of agreement when that happens. For instance, let us hope that the NHL players and the owners find some way to find, maybe not the exact exchange of things in their agreement when it comes, but let us hope they will be flexible enough to find one very soon.
    Liberals believe that Canadians deserve to know as much about the terms and conditions of these transactions as possible. Without that, how can Canadians properly evaluate these transactions or determine the impact on our economy? Is it not the right of Canadians to do that, to make that evaluation, to assess for themselves? The government seems to think that we should leave it to the Conservatives and let them handle it quietly and in secret. It thinks that Canadians really ought not to have the details so that they can make their own judgments. That is not a very democratic approach, if I can be forgiven for saying so.
    The government has been dragging its feet on clarifying the net benefit test for far too long. This has hurt the Canadian economy and it has hurt foreign investment opportunities. There is a lot of uncertainty out there in the world about where Canada has been standing on this and that probably hurts.
    However, I want to agree with my hon. colleague who spoke before me about the fact that we do want to have foreign investment. It is important for our economy. Over the years when the Liberals were in government, I do not recall hearing of any occasion when the Conservatives opposed any of the investments that we approved. On the other hand, nor do I recall hearing of the NDP ever supporting any of the foreign investments that occurred during that time, so that is interesting. I suppose it is partly because of the attitudes. From the Conservatives' point of view all the problems in the world are the fault of government. Governments cause all the problems. With the NDP, government is the solution to all the problems. I do not think either one of those is very accurate, but those are their points of view.
    Conservative mismanagement in this process has put thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investment in jeopardy and that is not acceptable. Because the Conservatives have politicized these files, they have created an environment where companies cannot accurately calculate the risk they are taking when investing in Canada. That is a problem. That is bad for the economy and it is another example of economic mismanagement by the Conservatives. Another example of that would be the fact that they took a $13 billion surplus and put the country in deficit before the recession began. If that is not economic mismanagement, I do not know what is.
    We need to know if Canadian companies will have the same level of access to foreign resources and other sectors in foreign countries. What is going to happen? We have not heard a word about that from the Prime Minister or the government. If the Prime Minister is going to make an announcement, he has a responsibility to answer some questions about these details. We have not heard those answers.
    If the government approves foreign takeovers without building reciprocity into those deals, it is a missed opportunity that will harm Canadian business and the Canadian economy. As well, the government needs to tell us what enforceability measure it has in place to ensure that CNOOC lives up to its requirements. We are talking about having monetary provisions and so forth. We are not aware of any existing in this case. The government has not told us about that. I have to presume there are none, with no particular consequences if foreign investors do not live up to their requirements. That is problematic.


    Since 2006 the Conservatives have refused three foreign acquisitions: MDA, PotashCorp and Progress Energy temporarily, all for different reasons. MDA was for security reasons. Potash was labelled as a strategic asset. Does that mean that maybe it is potash and the oil sands and nothing else? The government is not saying that potash will be, so that is not clear. The Petronas-Progress Energy deal was rejected because it was not a net benefit for Canada. However, it was submitted again and now it has been approved, leaving even less clarity.
    Following the 2010 rejection of the PotashCorp acquisition, the government said it would revise the regulations surrounding foreign investment. We have seen very little of any substance in that regard. The only change since then has been the following. The government has now given itself the capacity to release in public the reasons for a refusal. That is something, and I am glad to have it, but it is far from what was promised by the government. The government now has the capacity to request monetary guarantees to ensure the acquirer lives up to its promises. That is a small step and we will take it, but we need a lot more.
    While the Conservative government promised to bring more clarity to the process, it has only really made it more complex and raised more questions. What is the exceptional circumstance in which the government will allow further acquisitions in the oil sands by foreign state-owned enterprises? I hope someone on the Conservative side will answer that. Why draw a line at the oil sands and not include other sectors? Why is the government not adding more transparency to the process, which is what Canadians are really asking for?
    I hope that some of my colleagues on the Conservative benches will provide in the debate today some of the answers that are sorely lacking so far and that Prime Minister did not provide on Friday. I hope that they have been listening to the list of questions that I have given. They can come over and see me and I can give them some of those questions, but there are lots that have not been answered so far.


    Mr. Speaker, we were quite clear on why the oil sands merit special attention and special scrutiny. There is no asset in Canada on this scale in the natural resources field or elsewhere, which is in such great demand. The inability of the member opposite to acknowledge that fact demonstrates a certain lack of understanding of the Canadian economy.
    My question to him has to do with the distinction we have now made between a Canada that is open for business from the private sector worldwide for the oil sands and elsewhere, and a Canada that is now determined under this government to scrutinize what enterprises controlled by a foreign government might wish to do in our oil sands.
    Does the Liberal Party of Canada accept that this is a necessary distinction if we are to protect the free enterprise initiative, the leadership of free enterprise in the oil sands, in our energy sector and in our economy as a whole? Is the Liberal Party of Canada going to stick to its usual line of being prepared to rubber-stamp investments across the board, which would have the effect of potentially opening the door to a Canadian oil sands sector dominated by state-owned enterprises? Is that a result that the hon. member wants to see?
    Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary gave a list of questions but I did not hear much in the way of answers to my questions. I hope that others will provide them in due course.
    We have expressed concern throughout this process about the fact that we are looking at state-owned enterprises investing in Canada. I talked previously about the concerns I have about Chinese state-owned enterprises being involved in our telecommunications sector, which is particularly disturbing and concerning when we consider the importance of that in terms of what valuable and discreet or secret information goes across the Internet throughout Canada or across phone lines and other lines of communication. To have a state-owned enterprise in what is a totalitarian state so engaged in that process is disturbing. It is not clear to me that the government has taken the required measures to overcome those concerns.
    What I find contradictory though is that my colleague says the oil sands is the only asset on this scale that is worthy of being protected as strategic. That does not explain why the government said no to the potash deal on the basis that it was a strategic sector. How can the member say on the one hand that there are no other strategic sectors, yet on the other hand say potash was? It does not make any sense to me.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member's speech on the motion. I appreciate that he is showing some support for what we are calling for, which of course, is simply mirroring what the Calgary Chamber of Commerce has called on the government to do.
    One of the most important things for this House to recall is that we are a democratic nation. That means we base our decisions on the rule of law. Duly elected officials make the rules and then run the country based on those rules.
    On this side of the House, NDP members have raised ongoing concerns about the handling of foreign takeovers. In almost all cases of late, the government has failed to take any real action to enforce conditions on any of the foreign takeovers. For those reasons, we are raising concerns about the way we are proceeding and the fact that, frankly, there is very little in the law, and what is in the law is not being enforced. Could the member speak to that?


    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague's question reminds me of an article I read in law school on the rule of law. As the member said, it is about following the rules and not making them up as one goes along. Of course, the rule of law also means that it applies equally to everyone, which is a very important principle. In many countries around the world it is a provision that is needed.
    However, one needs to ensure that there is enforcement of the law and that the same rules are enforced for everybody. In this case, we do not know how the rules will be enforced.
    This is a concern, as there has been very little from the Conservative government in the way of enforcement of provisions on past foreign acquisitions. We do not even know whether the Conservatives' new plan that they have brought forward to have monetary penalties for non-compliance would be applied in this case. The Prime Minister certainly did not say so.
    How is the government going to enforce the requirements here? How is it going to enforce the employment promises made by CNOOC, and so forth?
    Mr. Speaker, I think it comes down to one simple question, which I would ask of my colleague: Is this simply the Conservative government making policy by the seat of its pants?
    It is clear that it is. They can laugh on the government side, but my colleague who sits on the industry committee made it clear that the industry committee has been raising questions for a long time.
    I would ask the member: What are some of those important areas that we do not know about, based on the statement by the Prime Minister? Has the industry committee been consulted?
    I have a statement here by the Premier of Alberta. She said:
    We will, in the coming days, discuss this announcement with the federal government and study the implications of the statements about future investments by state-owned enterprises.
    Is the premier really suggesting here that, in the provinces where the oil sands are the greatest—probably Saskatchewan and Alberta—those premiers were not even consulted by the Prime Minister on a policy that is supposed to be strategic to the country as a whole?
    I ask my colleague: Did we get reciprocity with China in this deal?
    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I have time to answer all of those questions. Usually one gets a long list from the opposition, but my hon. friend has made it tough on me with a good list. However, I think he has raised some very good questions. If I do not have a chance to answer all of his questions, I hope that others will try.
     I am particularly anxious to hear from the Conservatives about reciprocity. So far, I certainly have not heard about any reciprocity or any openness we are going to receive for Canadian investors and companies that are active in China. Let us hope that it will produce something positive, but we certainly have not heard anything. It does seem to be on the fly.
    Again, the fact is that the Conservatives have only picked this one sector as their strategic sector, even though they have previously identified other areas as strategic. In fact, I bet if we look at various announcements and speeches that Conservative ministers have given over the years we would find the word “strategic” applied to a whole bunch of sectors. I cannot imagine that we would not. Yet, now they are saying there is only one sector that is strategically important enough to have the protection we are talking about here.
    Are the oil sands important? Absolutely. Are they the only important sector of our economy? God forbid that should be the case.
    Mr. Speaker, I find the discussion from my Liberal colleague very interesting. The act came into effect in 1985 under a Conservative government. Unfortunately for Canada, I do not recall the Liberal Party ever turning down a deal when it was in government.
    The Liberals talk about transparency. Exactly what the Investment Canada Act is and what it stands for can be found on the Industry Canada website.
    When we were a minority during the last Parliament, the Minister of Industry sent a letter to the industry committee asking it to review the Investment Canada Act on the criteria of net benefit. The Liberals had four or five seats on the committee, and with the Bloc and the NDP, they turned down reviewing that issue. In retrospect, do they think that was a mistake?


    Mr. Speaker, if the industry committee had decided to accept the minister's request and come to the point of studying the topic that the minister raised in April of 2011 just before the election, I think, as quickly as I would have liked, perhaps in a month or two, it would have been far sooner than it has done since I have been proposing for months and months that the committee do. The member knows that at that point there just happened to be another topic that was the top priority.
    However, the member is saying that what the minister proposed then was not any good a month later, after the election, and the Conservatives have been opposed to it since they had a majority, and they would not study it. Even though the minister had suggested it and brought it forward at a time that was convenient for him, a month later, and ever since, over the last year and a half, it has not been convenient for the Conservatives to study it. That is irresponsibility, not transparency.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Edmonton—Strathcona. Before I start, I would like to thank the member for Halifax West for reminding us of the Liberal-Conservative coalition during his speech.
    I want to thank the member for Burnaby—New Westminster for moving this motion. It helps Parliament and Canadians have the debate that the Conservative government would prefer be kept behind closed doors with its well-connected friends. It is the kind of debate that Canada must have. Indeed, it is kind of debate my leader, as Leader of the Opposition, is ensuring we have now and Canadians will have in the next federal election.
    Until last Friday at 5 p.m., I had thought the Black Friday sales for shoppers had ended on the day after American Thanksgiving, a few weeks ago. However, Communist China and Malaysia companies knew better. They especially knew where to go for a good sale on our natural resources. No matter what the government says, its actions tell everyone that Canada is for sale.
    Imagine the delight of the communist China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Petronas. They find a country willing to sell its natural resources in a secret deal, whose conditions they do not need to divulge, with no public consultation and a green light to lay off workers, lower wages and whatever else they have up their sleeves to bring more petrodollars back home to their countries. They have to be laughing all the way to the bank.
    People might think this was a comedy skit, if it were not so sad and serious. The Prime Minister of Canada looks Canadians in the eye and says that he has grave concerns about the sale to China and its increasing ownership of the oil sands. Then he approves the sale of the largest takeover ever, in his next breath.
    The Prime Minister races to privatize state-owned companies, like Petro-Canada, and then turns around and welcomes state ownership by companies from communist countries. He is leaving Canadians, provincial governments, like Alberta, and investors wondering what exactly the conditions are for foreign investment.
    We were treated to a spectacle this weekend of the Minister of Industry telling Canadians to ask the Chinese what was in the deal. Just imagine. Are there any environmental protections for Canada in this deal? “Ask Communist China” says the Canadian minister. Are there any commitments to keep current workforces in place? “Ask Communist China” says the Canadian minister. Are there any commitments to maintain existing wages? “Ask China.” The government probably needs a link on its government website to the Communist Chinese government for Canadians to know what is happening in their country.
    Before 5 p.m. last Friday, I wanted to speak on this NDP opposition day motion. The Calgary Chamber of Commerce in the Prime Minister's home town and a large majority of Canadians are right; we need to clarify the net benefit test for foreign investment.
    Why did I want to speak? I am the member for Nickel Belt, and that sits on the world's largest deposit of nickel. Most of my riding residents live in Greater Sudbury, a community that saw its Canadian companies of Falconbridge and Inco sold to Xstrata and Vale, and heard the government mumble like it was mumbling on Friday about net benefits for our workers.
    I wanted to speak because I worked for 34 years for Inco and know a little about what actually happened in our community following the sale of our companies to foreign investors. Despite all the talk of net benefit to Canada and Greater Sudbury, we saw layoffs at Vale Inco and Xstrata Falconbridge.
     When the Conservatives approved the sale of Falconbridge to Xstrata, they received assurance that there would be no layoffs or job losses for three years. Xstrata broke that promise, eliminating 686 permanent jobs. The Conservative government took no action.
    After the takeover of Inco by the Brazilian giant, Vale, workers suffered through a long and bitter strike when the employer tried to cut wages. The Conservative government took no action.
    I wanted to speak because I have now reintroduced in this Parliament five private member's bills that would amend the Investment Canada Act to ensure there would be transparency, accountability and public consultation, which are now lacking in these foreign investment deals. I will speak more about those bills in a few moments.


    We can understand the skepticism of Canadians listening to the Minister of Industry's absurdity on the weekend that China could explain to Canadians the details of this sweetheart deal to CNOOC. That is the kind of nonsense we used to hear from the President of the Treasury Board when he was minister of industry.
    Despite thousands and thousands of emails pouring in to the Prime Minister's office with the subject heading that Canada was not for sale, the government is selling off Canada's natural resources. Hundreds of those emails came from my own riding of Nickel Belt. Eighty per cent of Canadians know this kind of deal does not serve the interests of Canadians.


    Friday's announcement brought bad news: there is nothing to clarify the “net benefit” test; there are no assurances that public consultations will be held with Canadians, who will bear the consequences of these takeovers; there are no assurances of mandatory disclosure of the guarantees given by investors or that they will be enforced in a transparent and responsible manner; there is no improved reciprocity for Canadian investors outside Canada; and there are no assurances that governments' records of interference in the activities of state-owned corporations will be reviewed.


    Let us hear what commentators were writing this weekend about this deal.
     Andrew Coyne wrote that it was all about politics and not policy. He said that the political balancing act was at the cost of total incoherence in policy terms.
    Workers on the ground in Alberta know better. The Alberta Federation of Labour said the Prime Minister was saying what Canadians wanted to hear, while doing what they did not want and that these tough new conditions were no more than a public relations ploy.
    The so-called unprecedented new rules to foreign investment are still largely behind closed doors for the industry minister's decision with no public input, filled with exceptions and still as ambiguous as ever.
    If this is a line in the oils sands, as the front page of the Globe and Mail suggests today, it is pretty much an invisible and moving line. So much for protection for our strategic industries, especially from state-owned enterprises in emerging markets. We can do better as a country. In fact, we must.
    We need the Investment Canada Act to work for Canada. The NDP recognizes the need for foreign investment and foreign trade when it works for Canada. We need to clarify the net benefit test, introduce parameters around reciprocity, improve the transparency of decisions and set specific criteria for state-owned companies to meet net benefit requirements in order to protect the Canadian economy for potential foreign government interference.
    My private member's bill, Bill C-333, would require the responsible minister, on written application by a Canadian citizen, to disclose both the written undertakings by a foreign company in respect of its investment in a takeover and what Canada had demanded in return.
    My private member's bill, Bill C-334, would require public consultation with representatives of industry and labour, provincial and local authorities and other interested persons. It would require non-Canadian investors to provide the Director of Investments with a surety that may be forfeited if non-Canadian investors failed to satisfactorily complete all of the undertakings they had made to the Government of Canada in connection with the investment.



    The FIPA that this government signed with the Communists stipulates that once the Chinese takeover is complete, the company must be considered a Canadian company. Thus, once the FIPA has been ratified, CNOOC will have extensive rights that will allow it to increase its control over the oil sands, for instance, by buying up new oil leases. It is now clear that the Conservatives have failed to limit the influence of state-owned corporations in the oil industry.


    This is no way to manage the economy. This confusion on rules, this secrecy, this failure to clarify rubber stamping and approval make a mess of things. We on this side are with the vast majority of Canadians who do not trust the Chinese state to run Nexen in the interests of Canadians. It will run the Canadian oil sands in the interest of its central party committee of the communist Chinese party that runs the country. We need a government in Canada that puts Canadians first.
    Mr. Speaker, it is extraordinary to hear such fire being breathed on the other side about communist China. We on this side tend to rely on members opposite for insights into that system. Clearly, posturing in the House knows no bounds, at least on that side.
    We need to know something from the member. Nickel Belt is a riding whose very name is synonymous with the powerful combination that Canadian and foreign investment have represented for Canadians and Canadian workers over decades and indeed centuries. Northern Ontario and Sudbury were developed that way. If the hon. member thinks that Inco and Falconbridge would have been developed without any foreign investment, without any access to investment from beyond our borders, he is quite simply wrong.
     Does the member opposite understand that foreign investment is important to keeping the economy strong and to building it in the future, or is he with Jim Stanford, the chief economist of the Canadian Auto Workers, who in today's paper says that Canada does not need foreign investment? If he does think there should be foreign investment, a bit of it, how much of the over $600 billion invested in the country would he—
    Order, please. The hon. member for Nickel Belt.
    Mr. Speaker, unless there was a coup last night that I never heard of, China is a communist country, run by communists. Therefore, I do not know where the member is coming from.
    I appreciate his reference to Nickel Belt because I must remind him that Inco was a hundred and some years old and it was well invested and well run when it was run by Canadians. Now that it has been bought by a Brazilian company, it has brought nothing but grief to our community.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a follow-up question for the member because I do think there is some validity to the question. From the New Democratic Party's perspective, when we look at overall foreign investment that come into Canada, which is in the area of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, could the member acknowledge that there is great benefit in many ways from foreign investment?
    I agree in principle with what the motion says in the sense that we want to see more transparency. The public has a right to know what is in the details of the agreement. Perhaps he might want comment on how the government has done a disservice by not providing the details and kind of hiding what the details are with regard to the current agreement with Nexen.


    Mr. Speaker, I want to make it very clear that the NDP is not against foreign ownership. What we want is transparent ownership. We want ownership that is a net benefit to Canadians. We want good Canadian ownership. We want good Canadian jobs. What those guys are doing right now is investing in Chinese jobs, not Canadian jobs.


    Mr. Speaker, I was working in the aluminum sector in 2007 when Rio Tinto bought Alcan, a true gem. There were six dams, a deep water port, a railway and the plants, not to mention our natural resources.
    If we could do it over again today, does my colleague believe that we could pass legislation to ensure that these assets worth $38 billion would belong to Canadians and not to foreign companies and that decisions would not be made outside our borders, considering Canada's needs?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Jonquière—Alma for that very good question. I would like to commend him on the work he does in committee. He does a lot for his constituents.
    There has been a great deal of foreign investment in Canada, and so much could have been different, more transparent. We could be kept informed about everything that goes on between the government and foreign companies. This has been going on for years, and it is time for things to change.


    Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I will clarify for the members of the House that this motion put forward by the official opposition today has nothing to do with whether one is for or against foreign investment. On this side of the House, we have been very clear that we are for foreign investment, but what we need is governance and protection of sovereignty. That is the responsibility of those on the other side of the House who were elected to govern.
    Our motion today mirrors calls by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce following another motion by the New Democrat opposition. Two years ago, on November 4, the former NDP leader, the late Jack Layton, moved a motion, which received the unanimous support of all the parties in this House that called for immediate steps to amend the Investment Canada Act to ensure the views of those most directly affected by takeovers would be considered; that any decision that a takeover bid delivers, a net benefit to Canada would be made transparent; to make public hearings a mandatory part of the review; to make the hearings open to all directly affected; that all conditions be made public and transparent and that there be improved monitoring and enforcement with stiff penalties; and to clarify the goals of foreign takeover reviews and that it does not merely allow the control of a Canadian asset .
    When he tabled his motion, the late Jack Layton said:
    The NDP is not opposed to foreign investment, but it wants to ensure that it is good investment, investment that creates jobs in innovative areas, that promotes sustainable practices and that produces other benefits that Canadians are looking for. When it comes to selling major Canadian companies, we believe that Canadians need to know how the sale will benefit them. But that will not happen as long as the Investment Canada Act is not amended. Right now, decisions are made behind closed doors. Government does not have to tell us. We are just supposed to take its word for it when it approves these takeovers, and frankly, Canadians are left in the dark when it comes to the future of their natural resources, their jobs and key industries in our economy.
    I actually took the time to read the legislation that is before us today. I always feel it is very important that we actually know the context within which the government is making its decisions: Are there actually some problems with the legislation or is it a problem in the way that the legislation is being interpreted and applied? What I discovered in reviewing the legislation was that it was rather vague in its reference. Surprisingly, however, there are a number of discretionary powers granted to the ministers under the legislation that they could actually exercise to make this process more fair, open and transparent. Therefore, it may not necessarily be a problem with the legislation but a problem with the mindset and attitude of the Conservatives who simply do not believe that anybody but the two parties at the table have a right to participate in the sale of Canadian assets, how that sale should proceed, what kind of conditions will be imposed and how they will be enforced.
    What actions did the government take to improve the regime after it voted unanimously for the late Jack Layton's motion? It introduced a number of measures which, as business lawyers have pointed out to us, are not adequate. It varied the thresholds for net benefit from $330 million into the future to $1 billion per enterprise value. Legal experts are saying that is really not clear and that we do not know what enterprise values are. The April omnibus budget bill managed to sneak in new powers for the minister for security payments but the lawyers say that the mechanisms are limited and that there is no penalty for non-compliance unless there is a court hearing.
    The government has also introduced the idea of mediation. It has done this by guideline. What I found most interesting when reviewing the legislation was that in this very critical regime, not only in a foreign takeover but a foreign takeover by another sovereign body, most of the decision making by the government is by guidelines. There is no review in this place or by the public, and those guidelines are not legally binding. Therefore, there is no consequence if they are not followed.


    It is also very important that, when conditions are imposed, individuals cannot even go to court until they first try to resolve the issue through various other means. It sounds like they can circumvent that and go by mediation. It is not clear then that this is enforceable.
    The critical aspects of foreign takeovers yet to be reformed include, for example, the processes for approving or rejecting takeovers is still behind closed doors. The detailed reasons are not revealed. As some of my colleagues have stated, the government has suggested we contact China if we want to find out the details.
    The second issue is the net benefit to Canadians criteria. The effect on the employee is not defined or clarified. It is not clear if that includes the necessity to reveal if the foreign national intends to import labour or to rely on temporary foreign workers.
    The aspect of the effect on resource processing does not specifically require a commitment for value-added upgrades or for additional employment in Canada. Additional factors have not been added whatsoever despite undertakings two years ago.
    There is no requirement to consider the compliance record of the entity trying to take over Canadian corporations. There has been a lot of concern expressed by Canadians about the compliance record of some of these companies that are bidding.
    There is no requirement to consider human rights and labour. There have been many concerns raised by both Amnesty International and, most recently, by the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights. They have stated that even the revised guidelines for investments by state-owned enterprises announced today failed to incorporate human rights considerations. Also, as has been raised by many in the House, including the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and a lot of the oil and gas sector, there is no reciprocity for Canadian investment in the foreign national that is bidding.
    What about the record on enforcement? As I mentioned, the minister actually has a number of powers to enforce these conditions. As my colleague, who spoke before me, was sharing, this is one example where the government has allowed a foreign takeover, presumably with conditions. No action has been taken to actually enforce those conditions. We have had case after case in this country where conditions have been imposed and the government has failed to assert its responsibility to enforce those conditions.
    What about the national security trigger? It was much to my surprise to discover that in the legislation, even when the minister has reasonable grounds to believe that there might be a concern with the national security, he or she has complete discretion to look into whether there might be an issue for national security. Surely this is another issue that needs to be considered openly with the public and with the House on how to make this a much better regulatory regime to provide governance for foreign takeovers.
    Regarding transparency, the law currently provides an array of powers for the minister to disclose more information. In his discretion, he is deciding not to. Is there more clarity in the takeover rules? No. With the government's decision to approve the Nexen-CNOOC takeover, neither Canadian investors nor Canadians generally are left with greater clarity of the rules. Worse is when a bid will be allowed and when not.
    Many constituents, including resource lawyers and members of oil and gas companies based in Alberta, have raised concerns with me over the past few months. One lawyer, who is the vice-president of a pipeline company, stated that she had seven serious concerns dealing with reciprocity, no dealing with human rights and no evidence the takeover would create Canadian jobs.
    This motion calls for a comprehensive review of the Investment Canada Act, the need for clarification of net benefit rules, improved transparency, greater consideration as to reciprocity and conditions to protect Canada against foreign government interference. These are exactly the measures that the Calgary Chamber of Commerce called for at the finance committee.
     I would concur with a number of speakers this morning. What are exceptional circumstances? We have absolutely no clarity. We are no further ahead except that we now have a foreign national that which will own some of our resources in the north of Alberta. As the Prime Minister said, “this is not the beginning of a trend, but the end of a trend.” In the words of Andrew Coyne, “What trend?”


    Mr. Speaker, I sit with my colleague on a government committee and I appreciate the work she does.
    I would like to read out one of the six criteria outlined now on the website with the net benefit test. I would like to know the NDP's position, what word changes it is looking for and what thoughts it has put into the changes it would like to see. Let us take the example of the effect of the investment on competition within industries within Canada. What would the NDP do to change that criteria?
    Mr. Speaker, I enjoy working on committee with the member as well.
    I will tell the member exactly what I would do, which is what all of my colleagues on this side of the House would do. We would take that provision to the public and to the industry sector for their opinions on how we would determine those factors. The government should be doing the same thing with all of the legislation it is tabling with respect to first nations.
    Mr. Speaker, in order to make an assessment on whether a deal is good or bad, we need to have some sense of the terms and conditions of the agreement itself in terms of its transparency and clarity. Those things have really been lacking with respect to this particular deal. On the other hand, the Prime Minister talks about clarity and transparency but has failed to deliver that.
    How can Canadians best evaluate this deal if they are not being provided with the necessary information in order to decide for themselves whether it is a good or bad deal? I wonder if the member might comment on that.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know how the member can actually expect me to answer the question when it is a rhetorical question. However, the answer is that no Canadian can properly assess whether this was a good deal or not because no Canadian had access to the information on which the government made the decision. That is precisely what our motion is about. That is precisely what our motion was about two years ago. It is precisely what the Calgary Chamber of Commerce had called for.
    The time for government orders has expired. The hon. member will have about two minutes left for questions and comments when this matter returns before the House.


[Statements by Members]



The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, we are on a collision course to global disaster with a dangerous disconnect between the political timetable and what science is warning us is a rapidly closing window to avoid runaway global warming. Scientists warn us that everything is speeding up from what they anticipated. Arctic ice is melting faster, permafrost is melting and sea levels are rising. At the same time, we are watching the glaciers in retreat while fires and droughts are on the rise.
    In Copenhagen, and again just last week in Doha, Canada committed to a process that will not take legal force until 2020. However, science warns us that if we do not ensure that greenhouse gas levels stop rising and begin to fall by 2015, not just here in Canada but also globally, it will be too late to take action.
    The time is now to move from rhetoric to action and recommit to Kyoto, which in five days we will have legally exited.

Young Artists

    Mr. Speaker, this past August I was very excited to launch my second annual Scarborough Centre art contest for children ages 12 and under. The contest was aptly named “A Call to All Up and Coming Young Artists”. As an artist myself, I was thrilled to receive so many submissions from so many talented young people in my riding.
    This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of announcing the winners at a special unveiling ceremony in my constituency office. I wish to acknowledge the following individuals for their winning entries: Fei Fei, age 12; Alexia, age 11; Bairavie, age 10; Leah, age 9; and Milena, the youngest winner at age 3.
    The work of these very talented individuals is now on display in my office and proudly showcased throughout my 2013 parliamentary calendar for all constituents to enjoy.
    I invite all hon. members to join me in encouraging and congratulating these young aspiring artists on their outstanding creative achievements.


24h Tremblant

     Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, my leader and a few of my NDP colleagues and I stopped in at Tremblant's 24 hours of skiing. The event drew more than 2,000 participants and raised $2 million for four foundations that focus on children.
    This event also gave me an opportunity to talk to business people from my region. In their opinion, investments in the region, which exceed $1 billion, will pay off only if there is an effective air transportation system with a complete customs service.
    My constituents in Laurentides—Labelle would like to start 2013 on the right foot. I am sure the Minister of Public Safety has received my request for a meeting on this. I hope to hear from him soon.


European Union

    Mr. Speaker, in a ceremony today in Oslo, Norway, the European Union is being awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for having contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe for over six decades.
    As president of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, I had the honour today of celebrating this achievement with the heads of mission from all EU member states, as well as the diplomatic corps, at an event at the government conference centre.
    Canada has deep and strong ties to the European Union. Given the many sacrifices Canada made during two world wars and since, it is gratifying to know that the EU's dedicated efforts to maintain peace, stability and democracy are being recognized with this prestigious honour.
    On behalf of the members of the House, I congratulate the European Union and wish it well as it navigates the difficult challenges it still faces.

Violence Against Women

    Mr. Speaker, earlier today I met with a group of experts, including academics, service providers and front-line workers, on the subject of violence against women, this on the very day a new study was released saying that most Canadian women personally know someone who has been a victim of violence. This is a shocking reality, especially since it has been more than 20 years since the December 6 massacre in Montreal, a day when violence against women took a horrifyingly public form.
    This cannot be permitted to continue and I am calling upon all parliamentarians to help. It is time for the government to wake up and take action to put an end to violence, harassment and abuse against our daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers and neighbours. It is time for a national action plan to end violence against women. Most importantly, it is time for federal leadership on a social ill that has plagued society for centuries.


Christmas Season

    Mr. Speaker, in this season when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, many of our fellow Canadians who wear the uniform must spend Christmas in conflict far away from loved ones.
    However, the spirit of Christmas is also the spirit of hope, the spirit that inspired the Christmas truce of 1914 that covered as much as two-thirds of the British-German front in World War I, when thousands of soldiers on both sides, told to hate, loathe and kill, laid down their weapons, left their trenches, extended the hand of friendship and exchanged greetings and gifts and sang songs of goodwill toward men. It grew out of no single initiative, but sprang up in each place spontaneously and independently.
    That truce remains a symbol of hope that the world some day “shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”.
    Let us remember that the spirit of Christmas is the spirit of peace.

Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on this day in 1948. It says that everyone has a right to an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing and housing. Canada has far too many people paying more than they can afford in rent.
    It is our daughter Hollie's 37th birthday today. She has Crohn's disease and can no longer work. Typical of many Canadians on disability, her benefits are too small to provide an adequate standard of living. She pays too much in rent. She will never own a home or a car. She cannot afford Internet or cable TV. She will never have an RRSP. She could never qualify for non-refundable tax credits. She had to give up trying to provide for her son, who now lives with his father.
    We need a national housing strategy like in Bill C-400, so that families can have enough after rent for their children, their health and for their future, and we need to keep our promises to the UN on the rights of the disabled. They deserve, as a human right, adequate incomes to provide shelter, health and food.

Season's Greetings

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to extend holiday greetings to all those celebrating during this time of year. The holidays are a perfect time to gather with family and friends, and to be thankful for all we have been blessed with over the past year. It is also a time to share generously with those less fortunate.
    Christmas is the day we remember the birth of Jesus and the lasting impression he has made on so many lives. It is also a time for family and friends to celebrate joy and love.
    Today is also the second day of Hanukkah, which marks the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. Amid the darkness that still plagues many societies around the world, Canada's light shines brightly.
    Let us also remember the brave men and women in uniform stationed around the world who are spending this holiday season away from their loved ones.
    I would like to wish all those celebrating in Mississauga and across Canada a merry Christmas and a happy Hanukkah.

New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, it is almost Christmas, a time when our thoughts naturally turn to family, friends and gift giving.
    This Christmas the NDP members are behaving more like Scrooge than Santa. They want to give Canadians the gift of a carbon tax. This is no gift, but a money grab, a lump of coal that would create hardships all across Canada for hardworking families.
    The oil sands fuel the economy and create jobs in all parts of Canada. Every day, workers fly out of northern Alberta, my home, taking their well-earned good wages back to their families in Newfoundland, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and all of Canada.
     A carbon tax like the NDP is proposing would critically hurt Canadian families. Our government has lowered taxes for all Canadians, promoted trade, increased exports and kept our economy stable.
    I ask all Canadians during the holidays to raise their voice and say no to the NDP lump of coal, no to the NDP carbon tax.


175th Anniversary of Kingdom of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean

    Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak to you about the 175th anniversary of the kingdom of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. When I think of my region, I immediately think of the silvery cross in the centre of our region's flag. To me, that cross symbolizes Arvida. It symbolizes the strength and determination of the aluminum workers who developed the industry.
    The heart of our 175 years of history is this labour town, which took its name from the initials of Arthur Vining Davis. The town was built in just 135 days to meet the needs of Alcoa, and it did not take long to figure prominently in the history of both the region and the world. As early as 1942, the remarkable work of the employees at the largest aluminum smelter in the world enabled Arvida to support the war effort.
    These days, it is our architecture and urban planning that have become world-renowned. In 2012, Arvida was recognized as a national historic site of Canada, the first step towards having the Sainte-Thérèse neighbourhood recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.
    As a proud resident of Arvida myself, it is with great pleasure that I wish everyone there a happy 175th anniversary.



International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, our government's economic action plan has made Canada a leader during troubled economic times.
    Today, Canada has the lowest debt burden and the strongest job creation record in the G7. Since July 2009, over 880,000 net new jobs have been created.
    One key to this success is our government's ambitious pro-trade plan, which includes negotiations toward a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union, an agreement that will boost bilateral trade by about 20%. That is like a $1,000 increase to the average Canadian family's annual income or 80,000 new jobs for Canadian workers, similar to the 800,000 employed in the manufacturing sector in my home province of Ontario. Eliminating European tariffs on Canadian exports will create jobs and opportunities for those hardworking Ontarians and their families.
    It is truly an honour to be part of a government that is focused on the priority of Canadians.


Robert Grégoire

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to mark the upcoming retirement of Robert Grégoire, who has been managing the Centre d'entraide Racine-Lavoie since 1989.
    He is responsible, in particular, for expanding Maison Richelieu, which houses the Centre d'entraide Racine-Lavoie, and for starting a number of organizations that help people in need. I am thinking, for example, of the Fondation Émile-Z.-Laviolette, the Grenier populaire des Basses-Laurentides, the Comité d'aide alimentaire des patriotes and Droits et obligations des sans emploi.
    Mr. Grégoire has been an important leader in our community. He has led his staff and the volunteers at the support centre in helping people in need to develop their potential, become more autonomous and have a greater sense of dignity.
    We know that we owe him a great deal, and we thank him for all the years he has spent helping others.



    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ensuring that our correctional system actually corrects criminal behaviour. That is why we have introduced and passed numerous bills to strengthen offender accountability.
    Recently a group of killers, thieves and rapists filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming that prison was a shock to their system and that it has taken away their ability to connect emotionally with the outside world. Without the slightest hint of irony, this group has inflicted enormous carnage on law-abiding Canadians, and claims that it must now self-deaden in order to deal with prison conditions.
    This lawsuit is a shock and is shocking. It is an insult to the victims of these heinous criminals. Our government's priority is protecting victims and standing up for law-abiding Canadians. The fact of the matter is that prisons are not hotels or resorts, and we make no apologies for that.
    Our government will work to ensure that no taxpayers' dollars go to thugs and criminals who seek to take advantage of our legal system.

Recognition of Service

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Lieutenant Colonel Lisa Smid from the small rural community of Rushoon, population 319, in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.
    Lisa's most recent promotion took place on November 23. Lieutenant Colonel Smid's military career to date spans 22 years, and has seen her posted in Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and Alberta. Impressively, in addition to her military training, Lisa has a civil engineering degree and a master's in business education, both from the Royal Military College.
    November was a busy month for Lisa and her family. In addition to her promotion to lieutenant colonel, Lisa and her husband, Ryan, and daughters, Tatyana and Natalya, joined her parents, Patrick and Marie Cheeseman, and other family members to celebrate the 107th birthday of her grandmother, Mrs. Margret Moores who lives in Rushoon with Lisa's parents.
    As Lieutenant Colonel Smid's career continues to flourish in the Canadian armed forces, I ask all members to join me in recognizing her exemplary service and dedication to our country, and that of all the men and women serving in the Canadian military.


The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, during this period of global economic uncertainty, Canadians can trust our Prime Minister and this government to provide stable and sound management of our economy.
    Our last budget was called the “Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act”. Members need only look at the strong growth we experienced in November, when 59,000 net jobs were created, to see that our plan is working.



    That brings the total to over 880,000 net new jobs created under the leadership of our government since July 2009. However, as we have repeatedly said, Canada is not immune to global challenges. That is why it is crucial that we say no to irresponsible policy, like the NDP's proposed $21 billion carbon tax.
    The choice is clear for Canadians: job growth or an NDP carbon tax.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, Conservative mishandling of the F-35 contract fiasco is yet more evidence that Conservative managerial incompetence really is limitless. The program costs have gone from $9 billion to $16 billion to $25 billion and now onwards and upwards to a reported $46 billion.
    Conservatives knowingly ran the last election campaign with two sets of books: one for themselves and a different set of numbers they shared with the Canadian people.
    Now we see that they cannot even properly shutdown their boondoggle in the making. Audit reports and cabinet meeting decisions are being leaked. Conservatives are as lost as a monkey in an IKEA, but at least the monkey was wearing a coat to cover his shame.
    From day one, the NDP has demanded a fair, open and transparent bidding process to replace our CF-18s. In response, Conservatives made up a wild attack on the opposition.
     We urge the Conservatives to try out some accountability for once. Like the monkey, it might help cover some of their embarrassment.

Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, as Canadians make plans to head home for Christmas, the NDP leader's carbon tax will be on their minds.
     The NDP leader's plan to increase the cost of fuel will make bus trips, train trips and airline trips much more expensive, more expensive for students trying to get home and more expensive for resource workers trying to get home. In fact, the NDP leader's $21 billion carbon tax will sadly make the difference on whether some people can afford to get home for Christmas at all.
    On this side of the House, our government will fight this carbon tax and fight the NDP leader's plan to ruin Christmas for travellers. Canadians can count on Conservatives to protect Christmas by keeping taxes low.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]


Foreign Investment

    Mr. Speaker, our society is based on the rule of law. Parliament enacts legislation and the government executive is responsible for enforcing it and applying it equally to everyone.
     Last Friday we learned that the Prime Minister did not think he needed Parliament to change the law. In the Nexen case, he said that as long as there were exceptional circumstances, he could continue to approve foreign takeovers even if there was no net benefit to Canada.
    When did the Prime Minister decide that he could change the law on his own?
    Mr. Speaker, the government is changing its guidelines, not the law itself. We have been very clear on that. We are operating under the law.
    In terms of the specifics that the leader of the NDP raises on exceptional circumstances, we have been very clear that controlling interest takeovers by foreign governments in the oil sands are extremely unlikely to be approved in the future by this government.
    Mr. Speaker, two years ago Conservatives agreed with us that those rules needed to be clarified and changed, discussed and enacted in Parliament. They no longer need Parliament. The Prime Minister is going to make them up as he goes along.
    However, here is the problem. How are foreign companies supposed to know what those rules are? If it was not fair on Friday, how is it fair today? How do you keep making up those rules as you go along? This is Parliament. We make the rules. You enforce them, apply them—
    I will once again remind colleagues to use the third person when addressing each other, not the second person.
    The right hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, I note with some satisfaction the very positive reaction of markets and the vast majority of Canadians to the announcements that the government made on Friday.
    What we have done is this. We have given the kind of clarity that private investors need. At the same time, we have reserved discretion and we need discretion to ensure that when we deal with foreign governments, this government has the capacity to protect the best interests of this country and its citizens.



    Mr. Speaker, that is clarity, except for the “exceptional circumstances”.
     What does that mean? It means they decide what it means on Friday, but that things can be different on Monday, which is not a problem. That is what this government does. This is consummate arrogance.
     The public is entitled to be consulted. Under the investment agreement, China would now have a right to purchase shares in anything pertaining to leases on reserves in the Rockies and in western Canada.
     They are saying that they can give our natural resources to a foreign power without even listening to the public.
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP is quite clearly desperate after seeing the positive reaction by markets and the vast majority of Canadians.
    Our position is clear: Canada will remain open for business, but that does not mean Canada is for sale to foreign governments.


National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, gross Conservative mismanagement on key issues is not limited to foreign investment. The facts about the F-35 fiasco continue to emerge. Over the weekend more details about the KPMG audit were leaked to the media. There were $46 billion reported. That is five times the number the Conservatives started with. Of course a number north of $40 billion is not news. They have just been sitting on it for quite a while.
    Will the Minister of National Defence finally admit that the jig is up, admit he was wrong and hold an open competition?
    Mr. Speaker, as you know, the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat has been set up to ensure transparency and due diligence is done before the decision is made to replace our CF-18s. We are committed to completing its seven-point plan and moving forward with our comprehensive and transparent approach to replacing our aging CF-18 aircraft. When including more years in operations and maintenance cost estimates, it goes without saying that the dollar figure will be proportionately higher.
    Not just yet, I take it, Mr. Speaker. However only two years ago when faced with questions from the NDP on the skyrocketing cost, the defence minister puffed out his chest, dismissed the concerns and said, “If we don’t make this purchase there is a real danger we'll be unable to defend our airspace...exercise our sovereignty or...share our responsibility to both NORAD and NATO”. Coming from the Minister of National Defence, that is some serious stuff.
    If he still believes what he said, will he now defend himself against his own party?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said, the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat has been set up to provide independent oversight and maximum transparency in the decision making process to replace our CF-18s. No money has been spent on the acquisition of any new aircraft and we will not purchase any replacement until the seven-point plan is complete. That includes a full options analysis, not simply a refresh of work that was already done.
    Mr. Speaker, on November 3, 2010, in speaking of the F-35 contract, the Prime Minister said “It would be a mistake to rip up this contract for our men and women in uniform as well as the aerospace industry”.
    Does the Prime Minister now stand by those words, or is he admitting that in fact there is no such contract, that there is no such deal and that the government is completely floundering in the face of additional information from KPMG and others?
    Mr. Speaker, as has been pointed out many times before, the government has not spent any money on the acquisition of new fighter jets. The government has enunciated a comprehensive seven-point plan going forward to ensure that our military does have new aircraft when the time comes to retire the current CF-18 fleet.


    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence said this about the F-35s on September 15, 2010: “If we don't make this purchase, there is a real danger we'll be unable to defend our airspace, unable to exercise our sovereignty, or unable to share our responsibilities through both NORAD and NATO.”
     We have a right to know: whether the minister right when he said that in 2010, or is the Minister of Public Works correct now in saying that there are no contracts—


    Order, please.
     The Right Hon. Prime Minister has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, it is clearly important to remind the leader of the Liberal Parti that the government has not yet spent any money to acquire new fighters, and I have said that on a number of occasions.
    However, it is essential, for the reasons cited by the Liberal leader, that we have fighters to replace the existing aircraft when our air force needs them in the future.


Foreign Investment

    Mr. Speaker, during an election campaign the Prime Minister was quite happy to tell Canadians that there was a firm contract and that anybody who decided to rip up that contract would be acting against the best interests of the country. Now he says exactly the opposite.
    On the Nexen file, is the Prime Minister prepared to make public today the commitments that the Chinese company has made with respect to the purchase of Nexen and that Petronas has made with respect to its purchase? Are those terms and conditions going to be made public, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party will know that terms and conditions are made public when it is proper to do that and not in circumstances where it involves confidential commercial information.
    I repeat that I am very pleased to see the positive reaction of markets and Canadians to the government's announcement. I think we have provided a large degree of clarity to the markets on future matters, while at the same time making it very clear that the government will exercise discretion to ensure that whole industries of the Canadian economy are not subject to takeover by foreign governments.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps repeating that no money has been spent on acquisition, but several hundred million dollars has been spent on the F-35 fiasco. It is as if it were not real money because the product does not exist yet. The reason that it is such a fiasco is because the Conservatives never defined Canada's needs, they never went to public tender, so there is a basic question of public management involved. Are they going to go to public tender and give it to the lowest conforming bidder, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said repeatedly, the government is following a seven-step process to ensure that Canada will have new fighter aircraft when the air force will need those aircraft.
    In the meantime, for some years, in fact even under the preceding government, Canada has been involved in the development of new fighter aircraft. Canadian companies, based actually in his city, have hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts for that work and the government has no intention of ripping up those contracts. If he does, he can go explain that to the workers in Montreal.
    Mr. Speaker, this is the biggest procurement contract for the air force since the Second World War. Contrary to every other major military contract where we obtain guarantees for regional economic industrial benefits, there are none here. There are zero dollars, zero cents. The Conservatives can talk all they want about no money spent on acquisitions, but the reality is that this has been a fiasco and a debacle from day one.
    Is the government going to call an open, public process for tendering, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, in the development of the F-35, Canada is part of an international consortium in which we compete for various contracts and for contract work. Some 60 contracts have been signed that involve Canadian companies working on and competing for that work, much of that in the city of Montreal. If the leader of the NDP does not think that means any dollars to the people in Montreal, he can go to those workers and tell them that.



    The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.
    Mr. Speaker, there is even more confusion and an even greater lack of transparency from this government—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. The member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.
    Mr. Speaker, again with regard to the F-35s, the Conservatives approved a statement of operational requirements containing requirements that only Lockheed Martin could meet with its F-35. The Conservatives have already spent $700 million on the F-35 joint strike fighter jet program, but they still refuse to formally cancel the sole-source F-35 purchasing process.
    How much more money and time will the government have to waste before it wakes up and holds an open and transparent tendering process to replace our CF-18s?


    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has indicated and we have indicated for some time, no money has been spent on the acquisition of any new aircraft to replace the CF-18s. We are committed to completing our seven-point plan and moving forward with our comprehensive and transparent approach to replacing Canada's aging CF-18s. Our seven-point plan includes a review of all options, which will not be constrained by the current statement of requirements.


    Mr. Speaker, it will be a seven-point failure if there is no new statement of operational requirements and if there is no open and transparent bidding process. The reality is that $700 million of taxpayer money has already been spent on the F-35 money pit.
    The Minister of National Defence was more than available for a photo-op next to the F-35. Now, not so much.
    When will the Conservatives admit their failure in this military procurement case?


    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that no money has been spent on the acquisition of any new aircraft for the replacement of the CF-18s. We will not purchase a replacement until our seven-point plan is completed, including an independent verification of costs and a full options analysis. This options analysis is a full evaluation of all choices available, not simply a refresh of work that was done in the past.
    Mr. Speaker, first it was $9 billion, then $16 billion for the F-35s, and then the Conservatives attacked Kevin Page when he said it was $30 billion. Now it could be almost $46 billion.
    In 2011, just last year, the Minister of National Defence said, “Let me repeat it. $9 billion. I have no idea where these other figures are coming from. They’re simply made up—or they’re guessing.”
    If the minister still believes the number is $9 billion, will he stand now and explain himself?
    Mr. Speaker, we have established the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat—
    Some hon. members: Oh! Oh!
    Order, please. The hon. Minister of Public Works has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, we have established the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat to ensure that there is maximum due diligence and transparency in the decision leading up to replacing our CF-18s. At this time no money has been spent in the acquisition of any new fighter aircraft and no money will be spent until our seven-point plan is completely implemented.
    Mr. Speaker, it is another sole-source contract.
    Leaking audits and cabinet documents is no way to run a country. The sole sourcing will simply not work. The costs are out of control and the Conservatives need to admit that their approach has totally failed. It was the Minister of National Defence who oversaw this boondoggle. He has been the one pushing for the sole sourcing of the F-35, regardless of the costs. If he still believes in a sole-source contract, will he get up now and defend it?
    Mr. Speaker, the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat is in place to ensure transparency and due diligence in the decision to replace our CF-18s. At this time the government has not spent any money on the acquisition of any new aircraft, and we will not spend any money on the acquisition of any new aircraft until the seven-point plan is implemented. That includes not only an independent audit of DND's updated cost estimates on the F-35 but also a full options analysis on the aircraft available to replace the CF-18.


Foreign Investment

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources confirmed this morning that the transaction would not have been approved under the new guidelines.
    Friday's decision by the Conservatives adds to the confusion. The Conservatives have still not defined the net benefit for Canada. They have created a new category: exceptional circumstances for foreign governments that want to buy Canadian companies.
    There is one more term that is not clear. Can the Conservatives tell us what they mean by “exceptional circumstances”?


    Mr. Speaker, we have clarified the guidelines, as we promised we would.
    I think the hon. member will understand, because it is very clear. When we talk about oil sands, people can expect that these resources will not be taken over by foreign interests or foreign governments. I think that is clear enough.


    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are asking these questions because they know, after these last few months of sheer incompetence, Conservatives cannot be trusted to manage foreign investment. The Conservatives just want to sell out Canada.
    Conservatives claim they will limit foreign state control of the oil sands and yet the FIPA with China will do the opposite. They did not get reciprocity. They gave away national treatment rights to companies such as CNOOC. The Conservatives do not even seem to understand the agreement they signed. They approved the CNOOC takeover of Nexen and they signed the Canada-China FIPA, which gives special rights to CNOOC. Why were they so irresponsible?
    Mr. Speaker, there are so many errors in that question, I do not know where to begin. Let me just say this. We know the position of the other two parties. We know the extreme position of the Liberal Party, which rubber-stamped every single foreign investment when it was in office. We know the position of the NDP, which is to be against every single foreign investment.
    Canadians expect that our government will be open to foreign investment for the benefit of this economy but in a way that preserves Canadian jobs and protects Canadian interests. Only we have the balanced, reasonable approach that Canadians—
    Some hon. members: Oh! Oh!
    Order, please. The hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.
    Mr. Speaker, we know the Conservative position all right: sheer incoherence and incompetence. That is the Conservative position. The Canada-China FIPA is just another botched Conservative negotiation. The FIPA guarantees CNOOC the right to expand its ownership of the oil sands, just like any other company in Canada. If anyone tries to stop it, CNOOC can sue for millions of billions of dollars.
     The Conservatives refused to consult Canadians on the FIPA or on Nexen. Unbelievably, Conservatives even chose to leave it up to the Chinese government to provide openness and transparency. It is incredible.
    Why are the Conservatives so contemptuous of the views of ordinary Canadians? Why do they—
    Order, please. The right hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, the problem with the ideologues over there is that they do not bother to read anything. If they had read the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, they would understand that Canada has exempted the Investment Canada Act from the application of that. We retain full authority and we have been very clear that there will be no foreign government takeovers of entire sectors such as the oil sands or anything else.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said the following, “I find it sad, that some in Parliament are backtracking on the F-35 and some are talking openly about cancelling the contract, should they get the chance.... Cancelling a contract that way would be completely irresponsible”.
    Will he now apologize to Canadians for deceiving them before, during and after the election, and finally admit that there never was a contract in the first place?
    Mr. Speaker, the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat has been set up to manage this process to ensure that transparency and due diligence is done in the lead-up to the decision to replace our CF-18s.
    At this point, no money has been spent on acquiring any new aircraft to replace the CF-18s, and we will not be spending any money to replace the CF-18s until all of the seven-point plan by the secretariat has been implemented.
    Mr. Speaker, apparently the government's position is that it has never spent money on a contract that never existed in the first place. The Minister of Public Works seems to be awfully fond of her new-found refresh button for the F-35. Apparently, it was inoperative prior to the Auditor General's report.
     Will she use her new button to apologize to Canadians for the Conservatives' shameful abuse of their trust? Will she use her new button to restate the statement of requirements? Will she use her new button to refresh DND's website to say that the F-35 is not the only option? Will she do it before the button wears out?


    Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat has been set up to manage the process to ensure maximum transparency, due diligence and independent oversight of the process to replace our CF-18s. At this point, no money has been spent on the acquisition of any new fighter aircraft.
    In terms of the options analysis, it will be a full evaluation of choices and not simply a refresh of the work that was done in the past.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the outrage of first nation leaders across this country is not only understandable, but justified. This paternalistic government refuses to listen to or partner with first nations. It has broken their trust on education, housing and water, on the tragic gaps in health outcomes, and with an insulting lack of consultation on the mountain of legislation it is imposing on first nations.
    Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence expressed her frustration with a hunger strike here in Ottawa. Will the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs be meeting with Chief Spence?
    Mr. Speaker, we have a strong desire to continue working in partnership with the first nation leadership to improve the quality of life in Attawapiskat.
     In fact, by the end of this year we will have spent over $131 million in that community. We started the construction of a brand new school to benefit more than 500 students. We have built, delivered or renovated more than 60 homes and we remain committed to supporting this community. We urge the chief and council to accept our repeated offers to develop a long-term housing strategy.


41st General Election

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' lawyer and their spokesperson have found a new excuse. Instead of denying their involvement in the massive electoral fraud in the last election, they are now defending themselves by saying that, after all, it is not very serious because only a few people were affected by these tricks.
     Really now, that makes no sense. It is like saying that hundreds of people were deprived of their right to vote and it is not serious because it really did not affect many people. In our opinion, fraud is fraud.
     Will there someday be a law that gives the Chief Electoral Officer more power to investigate misdeeds and fraud?


    Mr. Speaker, to the contrary, there has not been, in all the evidence submitted by the Council of Canadians, one single solitary witness in any of the six ridings who has stated that they were not able to vote in the last election. That is because this is not about phone calls or elections. The real fraud is that the Council of Canadians is taking the hard-earned money of working Canadians through union contributions to fund a politically motivated and ultimately inaccurate attack on the Conservative Party.


    Mr. Speaker, it must be the magic of the holiday season, because the hon. member seems to be living in a fairy tale.
    The problem in this story of electoral fraud is that the Conservatives seem to have lost their data in the mists. This complicates Elections Canada's work because they do not have all the documents and tools they need to do the job. Someone, somewhere, tried to make a last-minute save by taking advantage of the fact that the Chief Electoral Officer does not have enough power. The fact that the Conservatives are dragging their feet instead of working with us to give him more power makes us think they have something to hide.
    When will they do the right thing? When will they fix the loopholes in the law?


    Mr. Speaker, there is not a single person who is a single witness who has come forward in this case to say that he or she was not able to vote. Therefore, the only party that has something to hide is the NDP, which after taking $340,000 in illegal union money now refuses to allow transparency, and we know why.
    For example, CUPE, which gave $50,000 in illegal money to the NDP, is also financing the Council of Canadians in favour of this particular lawsuit.
    The real fraud against Canadians is the abuse of workers across the country by the NDP's union bosses.
    Mr. Speaker, speaking of illegalities, the Conservative Party is in Federal Court today. Instead of doing the make-believe thing, maybe it should try an honest answer for a change.
    Here are some actual facts. The Conservatives provided scripts and the call list to RMG, whose operators then directed voters to go to poll locations, sometimes kilometres away, without ever saying that they were working for the Conservative Party. Also, RMG's data has been purged. The evidence has been destroyed.
    Rather than a cover-up, when will the Conservatives start coming clean with Canadians? Who are they covering up for at Conservative Party headquarters?


    Mr. Speaker, we ran a clean and ethical campaign in the last election. By contrast, the question is this. Who is the NDP covering up for?
    After financing part of its last election campaign with $340,000 in illegal union money, the NDP now has a union-sponsored, politically-motivated junk lawsuit that it has brought before the courts, partly funded by CUPE, which gave $50,000 in illegal money to the NDP, and CUPW, which recently financed delegates to go to an anti-Semitic conference in Brazil that advocated the release of one of the world's worst terrorists.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know where those guys are coming from. They are facing Federal Court for voter fraud and they have the little guy from Nepean, who has his book of conspiracy theories, to throw one out there.
    We know that in Nipissing—Timiskaming, where the Conservatives won by 13 votes, there was widespread voter fraud. We know that. We know that Guelph was not an isolated incident. We know investigations are going on in 56 ridings and that the calls have been traced back to the Conservative Party headquarters.
    Who are the Conservatives covering up for? Someone on that side knows who was involved at Conservative Party headquarters, and he or she should come clean.
    Mr. Speaker, it sounds like someone over there is an expert in conspiracy theories. The only problem with the member's theories is that they are never followed with any evidence. He makes baseless allegations that are unsupported by any facts.
    What I am sharing with the House is factual. We know that CUPE gave $50,000 in illegal union money to the NDP. The party was forced to give it back. We know that CUPW sent delegates down to an anti-Semitic conference in Brazil that advocated the release of a terrorist. All of that is public. In fact the union, which supports the NDP, is bragging about it.
    Those are not theories; those are facts.


    Mr. Speaker, Canadians, particularly children, are spending more and more time sitting on the couch watching television or playing on the computer, as opposed to playing outside or getting involved in sport. Being active and participating in sport are essential parts of building healthier and stronger communities and a healthier Canada.
    One way we are doing this is through our support for not-for-profit organizations, like ParticipACTION, that work so hard to promote sports and physical activity in Canada.
    Can the Minister of State for Sport please tell the House how our government is supporting ParticipACTION's motto, “Let's get moving”?
    Mr. Speaker, finally, here is a nice question from the member for Barrie.
    Our government is working hard to get families and children physically active. Today, I was pleased to announce continued record level funding for ParticipACTION, as committed to in economic action plan 2012.
    Kelly Murumets, CEO of ParticipACTION, stated:
    We are delighted with the Government of Canada’s commitment to ParticipACTION and we applaud their support for the promotion of physical activity and healthy living.


Rail Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, NDP MPs are not the only ones who are worried about the major staff cuts and service reductions at VIA Rail. Rumbles of discontent can also be heard within the ranks of the Conservatives.
     Admittedly, I am rarely in agreement with my colleague from Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, but I have to say that we are in agreement on this matter. Even though we are not in the midst of a spending spree, there is no reason to let services in the regions lapse.
     Will the Minister of Transport listen to the concerns of Canadians, concerns that are shared by his colleagues, and ensure that rail services continue to be provided to all Canadians?


    Mr. Speaker, VIA is an arm's-length crown corporation that develops schedules based on demand. In the region the member is describing, demand has fallen by 50% in the last 15 years. VIA actually is going to make adjustments and, by doing so, respect taxpayers' money. VIA is subsidized by hundreds of millions of dollars. I know the NDP does not think that is a lot of money, but taxpayers do.
    Mr. Speaker, this holiday season many families will not be able to visit their loved ones by train. Belleville, Sarnia, Kitchener, Stratford and Cornwall are all losing service. The iconic route called Canadian between Toronto and Vancouver has been cut back. Communities feel they have been abandoned.
    Where are the Conservative members from these communities? Why are they not speaking out? Why are Conservatives allowing VIA Rail to walk away from its mandate to provide service nationwide?


    Mr. Speaker, VIA Rail is an arm's-length crown corporation that develops schedules based on demand. The demand in those routes has gone down, and some of those routes are duplicated with the GO Train. Some are duplicated with bus service. VIA Rail provides a service, but so do other services in the same vein. No matter what, Canadians will be able to get from point A to point B, and we will ensure that taxpayers' money is respected.


Aboriginal Affairs

     Mr. Speaker, today aboriginal leaders will be taking part in more than 13 rallies across Canada. December 10 will henceforth be known as the national day of action and solidarity against the legislative agenda of the Conservatives who are attacking the rights of first nations and failing to consult with them.
     When will the Conservatives finally follow through on the promises made at the Crown-first nations gathering?
    Mr. Speaker, since 2010, the minister has visited 50 first nation communities and held hundreds of productive meetings with chiefs, councillors and members of aboriginal communities across Canada. In fact, every year over 5,000 consultations are held with first nations. The government upholds its duty to consult with first nations and, if necessary, it responds to their demands.


    Mr. Speaker, we have chiefs driven to desperate measures. We have Chief Theresa Spence on the Hill commencing a hunger strike today. The Idle No More campaign was launched on social media by young aboriginal women and men who want more for their future. These women and men are tired of the Conservative empty promises, unilateral decision making and court challenges. As the national chief has said, the clock is ticking and patience is running out.
    Will the minister listen to the grassroots voices who are demanding a say in their future?
    Mr. Speaker, we certainly will and we certainly have. That is how we came to the action plan for water and waste water treatment, consulting from coast to coast to coast. We heard from grassroots community members from coast to coast to coast with respect to increasing financial transparency and accountability, and we are delivering on that legislation. We are taking every opportunity we can to share our priorities and consult appropriately with first nations on all of these key files.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are being punished to pay for Conservative financial incompetence that has seen Canada's national debt rise to more than $600 billion since 2006. This is especially evident with EI. Processing times are at an all-time high with many Canadians waiting more than five weeks to receive their first payment; 14 million applicants were hung up on last year; and 100 of 120 centres that process EI claims throughout the country are being closed.
    Why are vulnerable Canadians being forced to pay the price of Conservative incompetence?
    Mr. Speaker, we recognize that services are not what we want them to be. That is why we are working to improve them. We are investing in automating and streamlining the process because we want to make sure that Canadians do get the benefits in a timely manner, but we are going beyond that. We are investing to help Canadians get back to work faster. That is the purpose of EI, to support individuals while they are looking for work. We are helping them become aware of the jobs that are available in their area, so that they can work more and faster.


    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' financial incompetence has increased our national debt to over $600 billion, and now the Conservatives are making cuts to employment insurance. Workers are being backed into a corner, and the seasonal economy is in crisis. As a result, Canadians are being forced to seek social assistance from the provinces.
    Why do the people of the Atlantic provinces have to pay for the Conservatives' financial incompetence?


    Mr. Speaker, we are helping unemployed workers to find new jobs. In Canada, close to 900,000 new jobs have been created since the recession. That is good news. We are going to continue to help people find training courses and jobs, both today and in the future.


Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, the depth of Conservative mismanagement of the temporary foreign worker program is truly shocking.
    Documents released on Friday show major problems with the process for approving labour market opinions. For example, the ability to speak Mandarin was one of the listed requirements for the mining jobs in B.C. No wonder the company claims it could not find enough Canadian workers.
    Does the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism believe rubber-stamping ensures a strong system? Will he suspend the visas while this program is being investigated?
    Mr. Speaker, the requirements as described by the member opposite are totally unacceptable.
    The official languages of this country are English and French, period. That is what is required to do a job here in this country as far as we are concerned.
    We want to make sure that Canadians get first crack at every job available in this country and that temporary foreign workers are only brought in when efforts to find Canadians to do the job are unsuccessful.
     We are concerned with what is happening with the temporary foreign worker program. That is why we are reviewing it, to make sure it does meet the objectives.


    Then why say yes, Mr. Speaker?
    This is only one of many examples of the Conservatives' poor management of immigration cases. Here is another: our offices continue to receive the files of people whose visa applications were abandoned when the visa office in Buffalo closed.
    Some people's health exams and work permits are about to expire. The government has promised to take action in the coming months, but it may be too late for many people.
    Will the minister finally fast-track these files? It is long past time.


    Mr. Speaker, only the NDP would complain about actions being taken that actually improve the process to make it easier for students and workers in this country, and create jobs for Canadians.
    Previously, students and workers whose visas had expired actually had to travel outside of Canada to be able to renew those visas, and then come back into the country.
    Now, students and workers who have valid status in the country will actually be able to apply and have their application processed in Canada before they have to leave. This is all about improvement.

Regional Development

    Mr. Speaker, as a proud northerner, I am happy to be part of a government that places a priority on the north.
    Unfortunately, the member for Western Arctic keeps voting against everything that helps his riding, be it the Dempster Highway extension from Tuktoyaktuk to Inuvik or money for northern health care. He also opposed our government's decision to have a northern representative on the Arctic Council.
    When asked to explain his actions to his constituents, he replied that he did not really have to answer any of those things.
    No government in history has been as committed to helping the north reach its potential. Thanks to the hard work and commitment of the Prime Minister, we continue to make significant investments, like the Tuk-Inuvik highway and northern infrastructure to support northern growth and prosperity.
    Our Minister of Health, Minister of Public Safety and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development have delivered on new investments in health care, membership on the Arctic Council, abolishing the long gun registry and making nutritious food more affordable.
    What these all have in common is that the member for Western Arctic voted against them.


    Mr. Speaker, for quite some time now, the housing co-operative community has been asking the government to renew co-operative housing subsidies that are coming to term. In London West, 20 households of the Native Inter-Tribal Housing Co-operative will soon be threatened with homelessness since its federal support will come to an end at the end of this calendar year.
     When will the government act?


    Mr. Speaker, in most cases, responsibility for these co-operatives has been devolved to the provinces and territories. What we are talking about here are long-term agreements over several decades where funding was provided at below market rates. We expect the provinces to deal with these situations and that these co-operatives will have developed financial self-sufficiency at this point in time.


Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, for months now, we have been telling the minister that her changes to employment insurance are devastating for seasonal workers in Canada.
    Workers from New Brunswick and from Newfoundland and Labrador were on the Hill today to demand immediate changes to the reform package, which penalizes seasonal workers.
    Even though she refuses to consult with Canadians, perhaps she will listen to her colleague from Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, who is also asking for changes.
    Will she change her mind about her reform package, as the New Democrats, as Canadian workers and as her own Conservative colleagues are asking her to do?
    Mr. Speaker, we are helping people like the unemployed and especially seasonal workers to find other full-time jobs. This would be better for them, for their family, for the community and for their employers. However, all of our efforts to help people find new and better jobs are being hampered by the NDP.
    If people cannot find a full-time job, employment insurance will be there for them, as always.


Public Service of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, with Hanukkah beginning this past weekend and Christmas just around the corner, Canadians all across the country are getting into the festive spirit.
    Would the President of the Treasury Board please explain our government's support for employees celebrating the festive season?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that it is in fact the festive holiday season throughout the land. Whether it is Hanukkah or the advent of Christmas, public sector employees should also be able to decorate and celebrate. Our government has made it clear that the workplace can be a festive zone and we will not be grinched by the forces of political correctness.
    May I say happy Hanukkah and merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.


Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' actions with regard to public safety are troubling.
     On the one hand, they are promoting their so-called law and order agenda, and on the other, they have slashed funding for the mixed prevention squads that fight street gangs in Quebec by $92 million.
     They should be ashamed of using the victims for photo ops and then turning their backs on them.
     The Minister of Public Safety can provide funding for the prevention squads or he can let gangs rule the streets. What does he choose?


    Mr. Speaker, the NDP likes to talk about crime prevention measures but, when it really counts, it has consistently voted against all of these initiatives. It is our Conservative government that has created the national crime prevention strategy and the youth gang prevention fund. I hope the member opposite will finally stop the double-talk and get serious about supporting these programs.


    Mr. Speaker, following a meeting with the director general of the City of Montreal police service, I was informed that the Eclipse squad, which specializes in fighting street gangs in Montreal, was likely to be disbanded because its funding of $35 million from the police officers recruitment fund was going to end.
    Last year alone, the 46 Eclipse police officers made 540 arrests, including two for murder, and 42 weapons were seized.
    This expertise will be lost. Furthermore, this is a disaster waiting to happen for public safety in Montreal, especially since the city with the highest number of street gangs is Montreal.
    Will the Minister reverse his decision to eliminate this funding, as the National Assembly and the police forces have asked?


    Mr. Speaker, our government has consistently brought forward measures in the House that protect Canadians right across this country, including in the city of Montreal.
    Our government has created the national crime prevention strategy and the youth gang prevention fund but we have consistently had opposition from that member, no matter whether it is organized crime initiatives or regular crime initiatives. We would like that member's support so that the people of her consistency can be safe as well.



Presence in Gallery

    I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Catherine Coutelle, member of the National Assembly and chair of the Canada-France Interparliamentary Association.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    The Speaker: I would also like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Jacques Chagnon, the speaker of the Quebec National Assembly.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!


    The Speaker: Finally, I would like to draw to the attention of members the presence in the gallery of the 2012 Government General's Canadian History Awards recipients.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order relating to Standing Order 18, which indicates that no member shall speak disrespectfully of another member of this place when he or she is speaking. When the hon. member for Ahuntsic was asking her question, I heard a member, who I will not identify because I do not know who said it but it was said obviously to the member herself, clearly say the words “traitor in the House”.
    All members of the House, no matter how much we may disagree with another member's agenda, are duly elected and all equal in the House. I would like to remind members that kind of language is incendiary and unacceptable in the House.
    I thank the hon. member for raising the point. I echo her statements that inflammatory comments should not be made. In fact, no comments should be made when members are putting a question or answering a question, but especially those comments that could incite further unfestive activities that sometimes take place. It is certainly unparliamentary, that is for sure.


[Routine Proceedings]


Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission

    It is my duty pursuant to Section 21 of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act to lay upon the table a certified copy of the report of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for the province of Prince Edward Island.


    This report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.


Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 22 petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the following reports of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-United States Interparliamentary Group respecting its participation at the following meetings: first, the Republican National Convention that was held in Tampa Bay, Florida, August 27 to 30; and second, the Democratic National Convention that was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 3 to 6.

Committees of the House

Justice and Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to requesting an extension of 30 sitting days to consider Bill C-394, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (criminal organization recruitment).
    Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(3)(a) a motion to concur in the report is deemed moved, the question deemed put and a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Wednesday, December 12, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.


    I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to supplementary estimates (B), 2012-13, Votes 1b, 5b, 30b and 35b under Justice.

Public Accounts  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in relation to its study of chapter 1, Canada’s Economic Action Plan, of the fall 2011 report of the Auditor General of Canada.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109 the committee requests the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Canadian Heritage  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to supplementary estimates (B), 2012-13.


Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics  

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics be the designated committee for the purposes of Section 67 of the Conflict of Interest Act.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


Foreign Affairs and International Development  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 66(2) I am designating Wednesday, December 12 as the day on which the House will again consider the motion to concur in the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.



Citizenship and Immigration  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions signed by a number of my constituents on behalf of a family that is at risk of being deported. The petitioners support the family and are calling on the Minister of Immigration to reconsider his decision on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.


Rights of the Unborn  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to present a petition from residents of the riding of Haldimand—Norfolk.
    The petitioners point out that Canada's 400-year-old definition of a human being says that a child does not become a human being until the moment of complete birth, contrary to 21st century medical evidence. They mention that Parliament has a solemn duty to reject any law that says some human beings are not human.
    The petitioners call on the House of Commons to confirm that every human being is recognized by Canadian law as human by amending section 223 of the Criminal Code in such a way as to reflect 21st century medical evidence. About half of those 25 signatures are women.
    I have a second petition to the same effect from the Oxford area with 75 signatures, 35 of them women.
     I have a third petition from the same area, from Toronto, Mississauga and Burlington with 304 signatures, of which 154 are women.
    I am going to ask hon. members to keep their remarks very brief when presenting the petitions as there are many members standing to do so today.
    The hon. member for Random—Burin—St. George's.

Search and Rescue  

    Mr. Speaker, I stand to present a petition on behalf of people who attended the Fish & Work Boat Show 2012 in St. John's, Newfoundland, as well as members of the Canadian Marine Advisory Council.
     The petitioners call on the government not to close the marine communications and traffic services centres throughout the country. In fact, we are looking at the closure of 10 of those centres, in addition to the closure of the centre in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories.
    We have a search and rescue issue and safety is of paramount importance when travelling on the sea.



    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition today signed by Canadian citizens from across the country, of all ages and social classes, who are calling on the government to take responsibility once and for all and to pass Bill C-400, which would ensure that all Canadians have access to secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing.



Correctional Service Canada  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Fort McMurray—Athabasca and in particular the residents of Big Lakes, High Prairie.
     The petitioners ask the government to construct a federal penitentiary in the municipal district of Big Lakes. Although the oil sands are doing great, not all of Alberta or all of the country is doing great. As such they ask for assistance to help with their employment needs in that area.

Search and Rescue  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions from residents of Newfoundland and Labrador who are petitioning the government to reverse the closure of the marine search and rescue centre in St. John's.
     The petitioners point out that this decision takes away a very important search and rescue function where the highest reports of distress incidents occur in Canada, responding to an average of 500 incidents a year, saving the lives of 600 people in distress. They note that the rescue centre is responsible for 900,000 square kilometres of ocean and some nearly 29,000 kilometres of coastline. The staff have a unique knowledge of that area of ocean coastline and of the people who work upon it. They ask that the decision—
    The hon. member for Wascana.

Agriculture and Agri-Food  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions to file today, about 40 or so, with hundreds of names of people from one end of Saskatchewan to the other, expressing concern about the prairie shelterbelt program and in particular the planned closing of the tree nursery at Indian Head.
    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to maintain appropriate funding so the shelterbelt program can continue and the tree nursery, which began in 1901, can continue its invaluable work to Canadian agriculture.

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of constituents in beautiful Langley, British Columbia. It says that 92% of Canadians believe that sex selection pregnancy termination should be illegal.
     The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists vehemently opposes sex selection. Two hundred million missing women and girls in the world right now are creating huge societal problems. The petitioners are seeking condemnation of from Parliament, which they believe would have a strong educational component.
     The petitioners call on members of Parliament to support Motion No. 408 to condemn gender selection.


Parks Canada  

    Mr. Speaker, today, I have the honour to present a petition signed by 300 people from the Gaspé region who are calling on the government to improve services at Forillon Park, particularly during the winter.



    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from residents of Nova Scotia who note that nearly 1.5 million households, almost 13% of all Canadian households, are in core housing need.
     The petitioners therefore call upon the House of Commons to pass Bill C-400 and give Canada a national housing strategy.

Experimental Lakes Area  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on Canada's leading freshwater research station, the ELA.
     The petitioners recognize that fresh water is essential for life and vital to the social, spiritual and economic well-being of Canadians.
    They therefore call on the Government of Canada to recognize the importance of the ELA to Canada's mandate to study, preserve and protect aquatic ecosystems and to continue to staff and provide financial resources to the ELA at current or higher levels of commitment.

Aboriginal Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have with me a certified petition from 40 people of the Bedore area.
    The petitioners ask for recognition as first nations people. They also petition to have their ancestors' names restored to the Indian Register under Bill C-31.

Windsor-Detroit Crossing  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table.
     In the first one the petitioners call for the government to have a bike lane on the new border crossing between Windsor and Detroit.

Rail Transportation  

    Mr. Speaker, in the second petition, the petitioners call for high speed rail. They note that our country is deficient in high speed rail.
    The petitioners call for that service expansion.

Multiple Sclerosis  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a stack of petitions on CSVI. This debate was never based on the science as it should have been, but rather on wilful blindness, medical politics and collusion with special interest groups.
     Conservative senators had the opportunity to finally do the right thing and act in the best interests of Canadians with MS and vote for Bill S-204. Instead, they silenced Canadians with MS and they silenced clause-by-clause study of the bill.
     The petitioners call for phase III clinical trials at multiple centres across Canada and to require follow up care.



    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of my constituents of Newton—North Delta.
     The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to open a high commission in Fiji at the earliest opportunity. The fact is Canada has no high commission or regular consular services in Fiji, even though it is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations just as we are. All immigration business and other matters between Canada and Fiji are handled through the high commission in Sydney, Australia and they find that unacceptable. The petitioners believe this situation causes inordinate delays and inefficient service for tourists, visas, business and immigration issues for both Canadian and Fijian families.
    Our fellow Commonwealth countries, Australia and New Zealand, both have high commissions in Fiji and the petitioners believe it is time Canada did as well.

Closed Captioning  

    Mr. Speaker, as members know, at the present time the House of Commons provides closed captioning for question period only.
     The petitioners request the House of Commons to provide closed captioning for House of Commons debates, statements by members, orders and televised committee meetings. They believe access to these proceedings for the hearing impaired is fundamental to democracy and the basic matter of fairness.


    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from hundreds of Canadians.
    The petitioners are very concerned about the Conservatives' decision to change the eligibility age for OAS. They understand that this will jeopardize many middle-income Canadians and condemn them to a living standard that is below the low cut-off for lower-income families.
    The petitioners ask that the Government of Canada ensure that the Canada pension plan is more stable by maintaining the age of eligibility for retirement at age 65, increase OAS and GIS for all retirees and improve the Canada pension plan by implementing a modest phase-in increase in the contributions and the benefits.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present three petitions.
     The first is very appropriate, since this is the international day for the protection of human rights. It is from petitioners in Surrey and Langley who call for an end to the practice of using security certificates as an offence to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    I had participated earlier today in a press conference with Mohamed Harkat, who has been under one of these directives for 10 years. We certainly hope to see the end of them.

Foreign Investment  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions which relate to the Canada-China investment treaty. I noted earlier today in question period that members referred to it as if it was currently law and it is not. It has not been ratified.
     The petitioners from London, Ontario and Kelowna urge that the Prime Minister not allow it to be ratified.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from residents of Vancouver.
    The petitioners call for a permanent ban of supertankers on the coastline of British Columbia.

Parks Canada  

    Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions.
    The first petition asks that the Parks Canada Agency, which is responsible for the operation of the Rideau Canal and the Trent-Severn Waterway, not reduce the hours of operation nor shorten the seasons of operation and to return service to 2011 levels.

Status of Women  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on Parliament to stand up for women's rights and stop honour killings in Pakistan.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition is from a large group of folks from Toronto.
    The petitioners strongly urge the Government of Canada to immediately legislate a ban on bulk oil tanker traffic off the B.C. northern coast. They are against the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline.

Road Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, in the fourth petition the petitioners want to see mandatory side guards for trucks to protect cyclists and pedestrians from being pulled under the wheels of these vehicles.

Experimental Lakes Area  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by many Manitobans asking the Government of Canada to recognize the importance of the ELA. Its mandate is to study, preserve and protect our aquatic ecosystems.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 1001, 1002, 1004, 1011, 1018, 1030 and 1031.


Question No. 1001--
Mr. Scott Andrews:
     With regard to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, and specifically the recently announced (October 5, 2012) adjustments to the Working While on Claim Pilot Project: (a) what is the projected number of Employment Insurance (EI) recipients that will choose to revert to the rules that existed under the previous Working While on Claim Pilot Project, broken down by province; (b) what is the projected change in EI benefits paid to those who revert to the rules that existed under the previous program; and (c) what is the projected change in total EI benefits paid during fiscal years 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 due to adjustments to this pilot project?
Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), if Canadians do not take advantage of the opportunity to earn more by working more while they are collecting EI and if there is no significant change to employment rates, it is estimated that up to 250,000 claimants over the three years of the amended working while on claim, WWC, pilot project would elect to revert to the previous pilot project parameters, set at $75 or 40 per cent of their benefits, whichever is greater. This estimate does not account for a change in behaviour by claimants and is based on data before the new working while on claim pilot was introduced. This information will be broken down by province in a future employment insurance monitoring and assessment report.
    With regard to (b), if EI claimants do not take advantage of the opportunity to earn more by working more with the new pilot, it is estimated that claimants who revert to the previous pilot project parameters and only earn $75 or 40 per cent of their benefits will receive on average an additional $70 to $80 per week of EI benefits. This assumes no change in the claimants’ behavior or EI eligibility.
    With regard to (c), estimates for EI benefits rely on assumptions for employment and wages that can change over time and do not take into consideration behavioural changes by EI recipients, such as working more under the new pilot. For example a general improvement in employment rates would decrease costs, as there would be fewer EI claimants. As a result, the following estimates are subject to change. Preliminary estimates for EI benefits to be paid out as a result of the amendment to the WWC pilot project are approximately $61 million for 2012-13; $76 million for 2013-14; $67 million for 2014 15; and $26 million for 2015-16. It is important to note that although the amended WWC pilot is three years in length, it will run over four fiscal years.
Question No. 1002--
Mr. Scott Andrews:
    With regard to the Department of Natural Resources and, specifically, the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador pertaining to the Muskrat Falls project: (a) has the government received the complete data room required to make representation to credit rating agencies for the entire project as defined by the Muskrat Falls Generating Station, transmission lines, Island link and Maritime link; (b) knowing that the term sheet for the engagement of the capital markets is required to be completed within eight weeks after receiving the data room, what is the estimated date of completion of this term sheet; and (c) have the capital markets been engaged in the process and, if so, what is the expected date of the official approval and announcement of the Muskrat Falls Loan Guarantee?
Mr. David Anderson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the Government of Canada has received access to data rooms for the Muskrat Falls generating station, the Labrador transmission assets, the Labrador-Island link and the maritime link. Responsibility for representations by the credit rating agencies rests with the project proponents.
    With regard to (b), on November 30, 2012, an agreement on the loan guarantee term sheet was announced by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.
    With regard to (c), following the completion of the term sheet and sanctioning of the projects, Nalcor Energy and Emera Inc. will be engaging capital markets in earnest for the provision of the project loans.
Question No. 1004--
Ms. Joyce Murray:
     With regard to the reduction in planned spending for the Canada Revenue Agency’s Policy, Rulings and Interpretations branch from $353,788,000 to $69,179,000 in 2013-2014: (a) how will these planned reductions be achieved; (b) what specific activities, initiatives, and services will be affected; (c) how many part-time, full-time, and contract jobs will be lost; and (d) what stakeholder outreach and consultation was done on the planned spending reduction?
Hon. Gail Shea (Minister of National Revenue, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, this response is with regard to the fluctuation in the Canada Revenue Agency’s program activity architecture, PAA, for its policy, rulings and interpretations branch, referred to in the above-noted question.
    Under the Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006, the CRA is responsible for collecting and administering the charge levied on exports of softwood lumber products to the United States and making disbursements to provinces of this amount, net of certain administrative deductions and litigation costs.
    The fluctuation in the reference levels noted in the question relates to the softwood lumber, SWL, statutory disbursement to the provinces.
    The variance noted in planned spending, from $353.8 million in 2012-13 to $69.2 million in 2013 14, is due to the fact that the 2013-14 planned spending represents only the program portion of the total planned spending and does not yet include SWL statutory disbursements to the provinces.
    In the CRA’s response to Question No. 756, where information related to the CRA’s PAA was requested, it is important to note that all of the totals for previous years included an amount for these disbursements. The planned spending for 2013-14 will be consistent with prior year spending when the amount of these disbursements becomes available. This annual amount is received from the Department of Finance and will be included in planned spending when the 2013-14 main estimates are established.
    Therefore, as this is a variance and not a “reduction in planned spending” as stated in the question, the CRA offers a nil reply to (a) to (d).
Question No. 1011--
Hon. Bob Rae:
     With regard to navigable waters, what is the rationale for the inclusion in Schedule 2 of Bill C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, of: (a) each of the 100 oceans or lakes listed in Part 1 of Schedule 2; and (b) each of the 62 rivers or riverines listed in Part 2 of Schedule 2?
Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, for details on how waterways were selected, please visit the following website:
Question No. 1018--
Hon. Gerry Byrne:
     With regard to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, what grants and contributions under $25,000 did it award from January 1, 2011, to the present, including the recipient's name, the date, the amount and the description?
Hon. John Duncan (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, since the fourth quarter of 2008-09, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, AANDC, provides grants and contributions information on a quarterly basis under proactive disclosure reporting for all budgeted amounts, both lower and greater than $25,000.
    AANDC’s proactive disclosure is available online at:
    The public proactive disclosure contains information on awarded amounts to individuals, organizations or other levels of government for all programs within a specific quarter. The allocation may not necessarily be what was paid to the recipient. It may include initial or amended allocations by program by recipient and by quarter. Due to the full disclosure of amounts, some amounts are relatively small.
Question No. 1030--
Mr. Massimo Pacetti:
    With regard to the Canada Border Services Agency, what grants and contributions under $25,000 did it award from January 1, 2011, to the present, including the recipient's name, the date, the amount and the description?
Hon. Vic Toews (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the CBSA confirms that it does not have a mandate to award grants and contributions.
Question No. 1031--
Mr. Massimo Pacetti:
     With regard to the Privy Council Office, what grants and contributions under $25,000 did it award from January 1, 2011, to the present, including the recipient's name, the date, the amount and the description?
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office, PCO, did not award any grants and contributions under $25,000 from January 1, 2011 to the present.



Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 993, 994, 999, 1007, 1008, 1009, 1014, 1019, 1023 and 1029 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.


Question No. 993--
Mr. Rob Anders:
     With regard to firearms prohibitions, for each year since 1999: (a) what is the total number of firearms prohibitions; (b) what is the total number of court-ordered firearms prohibitions; (c) how many firearm owners have had their firearm licenses revoked as a result of a firearms prohibition order; (d) how many firearm owners have had their firearm licenses revoked because they have committed a violent criminal offence; and (e) how many firearm owners have had their firearm licenses revoked because they have committed a non-violent criminal offence?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 994--
Mr. Rob Anders:
    With regard to recidivism rates for parolees, for each of the five most recent years that data is available, broken down by province or territory: (a) what is the total number of criminals released on parole from federal custody; (b) for each type of parolee, what is the total number who were convicted of (i) violent, (ii) non-violent, (iii) drug-related crimes; (c) how many of each of these three categories of parolees violated their parole conditions; (d) for each of these categories, how many of these parole violations involved violence; (e) for each of these categories, what was the nature of each of these violent violations; and (f) for each of these categories, how many of each of these parole violations resulted in the parolee being re-incarcerated?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 999--
Mr. Jean Rousseau:
     With regard to security at border crossings between 2006 and 2012: (a) how many officers were assigned to each Canada/U.S. border crossing, broken down by (i) year, (ii) border crossing; (b) how many estimated illegal entries by land were there, broken down by (i) year, (ii) border crossing; (c) how many incidents of use of force were reported at Canada/U.S. border crossings, broken down by (i) year, (ii) border crossing; (d) how many estimated passages were there at Canada/U.S. border crossings, broken down by (i) year, (ii) border crossing; and (e) how many officers were added to the Canada Border Services Agency, broken down by (i) year, (ii) border crossing, (iii) assignment?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1007--
Mr. Craig Scott:
     With regard to the announcement made by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on May 28, 2012, that “new funding totaling $17.5 million will be allocated over the next five years to four key activities: prevention, early warning, rapid response, and management and control” to protect Canada’s Great Lakes from the threat of Asian carp: (a) in what specific ways will emphasis be placed on initiatives to educate people about the danger of Asian carp; (b) in what specific ways will human beings be prevented from bringing Asian carp into Canadian waters; (c) will public hearings be held in Canada to allow Canadians to provide input to key U.S. decision-makers on combating Asian carp migration; (d) what specific efforts will be made to raise the awareness of Canadians of the potential harm that Asian carp could cause in the Great Lakes; (e) what efforts will the government make to facilitate or mobilize public participation in decision-making concerning Asian carp; (f) what discussions or arrangements have been made by the government to work with American counterparts to develop an extensive early warning and monitoring system to alert officials of signs of any potential problems, along with rapid response protocols for both countries to be able to react quickly should there be signs that they are spreading; (g) when will the extensive early warning and monitoring system be put in place; (h) how does the government envision the extensive early warning and monitoring system working; (i) what discussions or arrangements have been made by the government to work with enforcement agencies to ensure compliance with regulations relating to the transport of Asian carp; (j) what tools will be used to ensure compliance with regulations relating to the transport of Asian carp; (k) what resources will be allocated to compliance efforts relating to the transport of Asian carp; (l) is the government aware of any plans, intentions, or studies with respect to bans on carp in provinces other than Ontario, or in any territory; (m) are there mechanisms in place at the Canada-US border for inspecting vehicles in an effort to assist the province of Ontario’s prohibition on possession or sale of live big head carp in Ontario and, if so, what are they; (n) are the same or other mechanisms in place to inspect for live big head carp at border crossings in provinces and territories outside Ontario; (o) is the government intending or considering an international trade requirement that big head carp only enter Canada after heads and tails have been cut off, in order to ensure fish are dead when crossing the border; (p) are there any regulations on interprovincial trade or transport of live carp, including those reinforcing Ontario’s prohibition on live big head carp in Ontario; and (q) does the government intend to attend or participate in the November 8, 2012, Great Lakes/St Lawrence Cities Initiative meeting, or to press relevant US agencies such as the US Army Corps to attend that meeting in order to hear directly from Canadians?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1008--
Mr. Rodger Cuzner:
    With regard to staffing at the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) since 2006: (a) what job positions were externally posted, including (i) the group and level classification, (ii) the job title, (iii) the language requirement, (iv) the office location, (v) the duration of the job posting, (vi) if the position was to be located in a bilingual region, (vii) whether the position was a new or existing position; (b) what externally advertised job positions were advertised for five days or less, including (i) the job title, (ii) the job description; (c) what were the employment positions at the end of fiscal years 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, including (i) the group and level classification, (ii) the job title, (iii) the office location, (iv) the language requirement, (v) the total number of employees; (d) what job positions were eliminated in fiscal years 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, including (i) the group and level classification, (ii) the job title, (iii) the office location; (e) what are the projected job positions to be eliminated in fiscal years 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015; (f) is Kevin MacAdam still employed in the position of Director General, Operations Prince Edward Island, since his appointment was revoked by the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC) on August 8, 2012, (i) is he still receiving full-time French language training education, (ii) is the ACOA paying any legal costs of Mr. MacAdam's judicial review of the PSC August 8, 2012 decision; and (g) what is the ACOA’s policy when the PSC rules it is required to revoke an appointment made and the appointee files for a judicial review of the PSC decision to revoke their appointment, including (i) the effects on revoked appointment's employment contract with the ACOA, (ii) the funding the revoked appointment's legal expenses related to any legal action taken by the appointee to have the PSC decision overturned?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1009--
Mr. Rodger Cuzner:
     With regard to the government's Working While on Claim Pilot Project (Pilot Project 18), announced in Budget 2012 and which took effect August 5, 2012, the adjustment made to it on October 5, 2012, (Pilot Project 18 Adjustment), and the previous Working While on Claim Pilot that was in effect from December 11, 2005, to August 4, 2012, (Pilot Project 17): (a) for Pilot Project 17, during fiscal years 2008 to 2012, what are the average and median part-time weekly wages earned while receiving Employment Insurance (EI), broken down by (i) geographic area, (ii) industry, (iii) the following wage earning levels: $1-50 per week, $51-100, $101-150, $151-200, $201-250, $251-300, $300 and up, etc.; (b) what is the justification, including supporting data, for the elimination of the Allowable Earning Provision in Pilot Project 18 that allowed EI claimants to earn without claw-back the greater of 40% of their weekly employment insurance benefit or $75, which was present in Pilot Project 17; (c) did the government analyze how many people were anticipated to receive less under Pilot Project 18 than under Pilot Project 17 as a result of the elimination of the Allowable Earnings Provision in Pilot Project 18 and, if so, what is the analysis, broken down by geography and industry; (d) what is the expected cost saving to the government by removing the Allowable Earnings Provision in Pilot Project 18; (e) does removing the Allowable Earnings Provision create a new claw-back for low wage earners on EI; (f) is the removal of the Allowable Earnings Provision a disincentive to work for low weekly wage EI recipients and, if not, why not, and if so, why was the provision eliminated and what new measures will be implemented to create incentives for low income earners to work; (g) was any analysis completed on what impact removing the Allowable Earnings Provision would have on seasonal workers and, if so, what is the reason for the analysis and the details of the analysis, including internal file numbers and reference numbers associated with them; (h) what data statistics have been collected on Pilot Project 17, by fiscal year, since the start of the project in 2005, including a description of the statistic and reasons for its calculation; (i) will EI recipients lose their benefits if they refuse to accept part-time work that would result in a financial loss to the claimant as a result of having 50% of their earnings clawed back; (j) what are the expected cost savings to eliminating the Allowable Earnings Provision in Pilot Project 18 compared to Pilot Project 17; (k) what have been the budgeted and actual costs for Pilot Project 17 for fiscal years 2008 to 2012, explaining any deviations; (l) what is the expected budget for Pilot Project 18 for fiscal years 2013 to 2015, explaining any reduction in budget for Pilot Project 18 compared to Pilot Project 17; (m) what internal and external studies has the government undertaken to analyze both Pilot Project 17 and Pilot Project 18 since 2005, providing (i) their names, (ii) who undertook them, (iii) the cost, (iv) the years undertaken; (n) how many EI claimants receiving the Family Benefit worked in fiscal year 2012, and what is their (i) median weekly income, (ii) average weekly income, (iii) average hours worked per week; (o) how will Pilot Project 18 promote workforce mobility across the country; (p) what are the statistics from fiscal years 2010 to 2012 detailing how people working part-time while on claim transition to full-time work; (q) how many people are anticipated to be eligible for Pilot Project 18 Adjustment; (r) how many individuals who are eligible for the Pilot Project 18 Adjustment are anticipated to revert to Pilot Project 17 rules; (s) how will individuals who qualify for the Pilot Project 18 Adjustment be notified of their eligibility and provided the relevant information; (t) how were individuals who were eligible for Pilot Project 18 notified about their eligibility and provided the relevant information; (u) why are individuals who qualify under the Pilot Project 18 Adjustment who chose to revert to Pilot Project 17 rules required to file their bi-weekly reports manually and not electronically; (v) what is the expected number of employment insurance applications to be processed in January, 2013, based on normal historical volumes; (w) what is the anticipated volume of application files related to people who revert back to Pilot Project 17 who are eligible for the Pilot Project Adjustment; (x) is additional staffing planned to deal with the increased processing volume for January, 2013, as a result of the file requests from individuals opting to revert to Pilot Project 17 rules; and (y) are regular claimants who received at least one week of regular benefits between August 7, 2011, and August 4, 2012, ineligible for the Pilot Project 18 Adjustment if they work more than one or two days per week part-time and, if so, what is the rationale?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1014--
Hon. Hedy Fry:
     With regard to the Department of Canadian Heritage, what grants and contributions under $25,000 did the department award from January 1, 2011, to the present, including the recipient’s name, the date, the amount and the description?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1019--
Hon. Gerry Byrne:
    With regard to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, what grants and contributions under $25,000 did it award from January 1, 2011, to the present, including the recipient's name, the date, the amount and the description?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1023--
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia:
     With regard to the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, what grants and contributions under $25,000 did it award from January 1, 2011, to the present, including the recipient's name, the date, the amount and the description?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1029--
Mr. David McGuinty:
     With regard to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, what grants and contributions under $25,000 did it award from January 1, 2011, to the present, including the recipient's name, the date, the amount and the description?
    (Return tabled)


    Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
     The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Request for Emergency Debate


[S. O. 52]
    The Chair has notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Scarborough—Agincourt.
    Mr. Speaker, for over 18 months the people of Syria have been calling for democracy. They begun with peaceful protest, but were met with violence by President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Unfortunately, as is often the case, violence begat violence. More than 40,000 people have been killed, untold thousands have been injured and torture and rape are being reported throughout Syria. Even children are being tortured.
    The regime is butchering innocent civilians by indiscriminately using air power to bomb them. More than 260,000 people have fled Syria and taken refuge in neighbouring countries. This flood of refugees is overwhelming the ability of these countries to meet the needs of the refugees. Right now more than 50,000 Syrians are trying to escape the conflict in Syria but are being kept at the border because they do not have proper documents.
    As winter approaches, thousands of refugees have been facing deteriorating conditions. They will be facing snow and freezing temperatures when living in tents.
    In recent days there have widespread reports that the al-Assad regime is contemplating the use of chemical weapons. The international community has been unanimous in its condemnations, with several countries indicating that the regime's use of chemical weapons will result in severe consequences. These reports will drive more Syrians to flee to safety.
    This will cause more overcrowding in the refugee camps, place a large burden on the countries that are offering refuge and accelerate the deteriorating conditions in which the refugees find themselves.
    Syrian Canadians want to hear from all of us. This is why I am asking for an emergency debate in order for all of us in the House to voice our opinions and to find out what the government will do with respect to this important issue.

Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I thank the hon. member for raising this issue and I understand his concerns regarding the subject matter.
     I do note that the seventh report of the foreign affairs committee, as we just heard, is due back for the rest of debate this week. Therefore, in light of that, I will deny the request for an emergency debate but encourage the member to participate in the remainder of the debate on the concurrence report.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]


Business of Supply

Opposition Motion--Investment Canada Act   

    The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
    Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to address the House today regarding Canada's foreign investment review regime. I also note that I will be splitting my time with my colleague for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex this afternoon.
    On Friday, December 7, the Prime Minister made an important announcement about how the process will change with respect to proposed transactions by state-owned enterprises. The changes reflect concerns raised by an evolving investment environment where state-owned enterprises have increased in size, activity and their interest in Canada's natural resources.
    I wholeheartedly support the Prime Minister and the Minister of Industry because this change shows that the government continues to stand up for Canadians.
    The announcement of last Friday certainly was not a bolt out of the blue. This government first signalled its concern about the role of state-owned enterprises in 2006 as part of its Advantage Canada plan. Furthermore, it reflects the practice of the government to ensure that the foreign investment review regime evolves along with the changing nature of foreign investment.
    It is worth recalling that the economic history of Canada shows that the investment regime has evolved as different governments have responded to shifts in global economic power that have altered the pattern of foreign direct investment.
    In the 1970s, it was the economic power of the United States and Europe that led to calls for a regime to review acquisitions of Canadian business. This eventually led to Parliament's approval of the Foreign Investment Review Act, or FIRA, and the creation of the Foreign Investment Review Agency in 1975.
    FIRA's stated purpose was to ensure that control of Canadian businesses or the establishment of new businesses under non-Canadians would only be permitted were they likely to be of significant benefit to Canada. The agency was tasked with reviewing proposed transactions to ensure that they met that objective.
    FIRA specified factors that were to be taken into account when reviewing a proposed transaction. Briefly, these included the level and nature of economic activity in Canada; the degree and significance of participation by Canadians; productivity, efficiency, technological development, product innovation and variety; competition in Canada; and compatibility with national industrial, economic and cultural policies, including the policies of the provinces likely to be affected.
    FIRA provided the government significant powers, including permitting the responsible minister to investigate companies, to enter premises and search for evidence, and to require the investor to be examined under oath. Critics said that the FIRA process was overly rigid and too secretive. For example, the agency did not have to report its grounds for decision-making in particular cases.
    The threshold for review under FIRA was also very low. Any business with assets of more than $300,000 and revenue of more than $3 million was subject to the act. The review process was long and cumbersome. On average, it took six months, and often in excess of a year. It often increased transaction costs.
    In 1985, Parliament approved the replacement of FIRA with the Investment Canada Act. Furthermore, the Foreign Investment Review Agency was replaced with a new agency, Investment Canada.
    The new mandate under the ICA was to encourage investment in Canada by Canadians and non-Canadians that contributed to economic growth and employment opportunities, and to provide for the review of significant investments in Canada by non-Canadians to ensure such benefits to Canada.


    As I alluded to earlier, the criteria for foreign investment under the ICA were substantially similar to those under FIRA, with the addition of a factor focused on Canada's ability to compete in world markets. This addition was key, because it recognized the changing economic environment where global competitiveness was going to matter to countries and to Canada's economic well-being.
    The ICA era differed immediately from the FIRA era because of its different purposes. The ICA ensured that Canada was open for business with more realistic thresholds for review and shorter times for the completion of reviews.
    The impact of the changes under the ICA cannot be overstated. Foreign investment rebounded significantly. Canada's share of inward foreign direct investment stock, that is the Canadian assets owned by non-Canadians, has risen steadily since the ICA. Our proportion of inward foreign direct investment stock to our gross domestic product has also increased significantly.
    Canada continues to attract more than its share of global foreign investment, and that is a good thing for Canadians. Foreign investment promotes growth, employment and innovation here at home, as well as access to new markets and global supply chains abroad. Foreign investment brings some of the most productive and successful firms in the world to Canada and results in some of the highest paying jobs for Canadians.
    Foreign direct investment, both into Canada and by Canadian firms abroad, is a win-win for our economy. With this in mind, Canada needs to make it clear that we are open for business and welcome foreign investment. Let me repeat: Canada is open for business and welcomes foreign investment. Our government is committed to sending the message to investors around the world that Canada is a safe and stable place to invest and do business. However, we also need to recognize that as the world changes and investment trends evolve, we need to evolve too.
    The Prime Minister's announcement last Friday evening regarding the review of proposed investment by foreign state-owned enterprises is only the latest example of this government standing up for Canadians. This government acted previously to protect Canadian interests when it came to foreign investment. In fact, we have been the most active government since the introduction in 1985 of the Investment Canada to ensure that the foreign investment that comes to Canada actually benefits hard-working Canadians.
    My hon. colleague from Lambton—Kent—Middlesex will now highlight some of the recent actions our government has taken to keep the Investment Canada Act framework relevant to emerging economic reality.



    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my esteemed colleague for his speech. I would like to ask a question. Surveys show that nearly 70% of Canadians have serious concerns about the takeover of Nexen by CNOOC.
    Why are the Conservatives still refusing to consult with Canadians in order to reassure them?


    Mr. Speaker, it is fair to say that Canadians have responded favourably in the past several days and that the markets today have more than favourably supported this decision. Our Prime Minister and the Minister of Industry were very clear on Friday evening that we must evolve. Business changes and we must evolve in line with global demands. Clearly, the decision that was made met those tests and it is fair to say that Canadians from coast to coast to coast have thoroughly supported this decision given to us on Friday evening.
    Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the remarks by the member for Don Valley West. I think he is a very serious member of the House. However, I do have a concern. He said a couple of times that we are open for business and that we welcome foreign investment. That is fine on the surface, but on the other side of that, is Canada up for sale?
    I watched the Prime Minister's remarks on Friday night, and they did not reassure me a whole lot. They reassured shareholders. Shareholders are looking for a quick gain. They are not looking at the long-term future. They are going to take their profit and then they may run.
    We have corporations in Canada sitting on over $500 billion in cash, not investing it in this country, and yet we are trying to draw foreign investment in. I am not against foreign investment.
    What I need to know from the member for Don Valley West, who seems to have a fair bit of detail on this announcement, is whether we have reciprocity with China in terms of this agreement. That is a key point. Did we get reciprocity with China in terms of our investing in their country under the same terms and conditions as CNOOC is allowed to invest in the oil sands?
    Mr. Speaker, clearly this decision took time and considerable serious consideration by our Minister of Industry and by the Prime Minister.
    The decision that was announced Friday night clearly brought a balanced decision to an issue that has been contentious for several months. In his remarks, the Prime Minister clearly addressed the fact that the old era was ending and the new era, with new standards, was beginning. Clearly the government is adapting to growing global interest in our markets.
    I will just mention one fact that I think is relevant. As of the end of 2011, Canadian firms outside Canada reached $685 billion in foreign investment, and foreign investment into Canada reached $608 billion. Clearly for our country, our nation, to thrive and to meet the government's objectives of job creation, economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians, we have to be competitive in that market. The standards that were issued Friday evening meet that demand.


    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Don Valley West for detailing the historical basics, which are vital to understanding the important actions taken in terms of the Investment Canada Act the other evening.
    The changes the government introduced have not just been tinkering, as some might suggest. We have taken a targeted approach and that is, quite honestly, the responsible way for us to remain effective in the face of evolving foreign investment trends, not only in this country but in others around the world. We know that Canada is a bit of a target because of its strong economic position over the last number of years that got us through the economic downturn.
    In 2007, our government introduced guidelines on investments by state-owned enterprises. In 2009, we introduced national security provisions into the ICA, as well as amendments to increase the threshold for net benefit reviews and to remove sector-specific restrictions on investments. In the most recent federal budget, we introduced targeted measures intended to improve transparency and enhance enforcement.
    In 2006, we recognized that investments by foreign state-owned enterprises represented a unique challenge to Canada as these investment opportunities seem to be growing, as I mentioned earlier. There is a concern that state-owned enterprises may not be commercially oriented, which could affect their operations in Canada. Guidelines on state-owned enterprises first enunciated in 2007 place significant focus on whether the Canadian businesses being acquired could operate with commercial orientation. Since that time, Canada has seen a significant increase in investment by state-owned enterprises.
    As we see Canadian businesses and opportunities growing, state-owned enterprises are taking a large interest and that interest is growing. Hence, the need for the guidelines that were brought forward the other night. The Prime Minister did that on Friday evening. The revised guidelines will be applied to proposed transactions.
    I will highlight the guidelines that have been mentioned time and again, and in fact, today in the House of Commons during question period. The Minister of Industry will consider among other factors: the degree of control or influence a state-owned enterprise would likely exert on the Canadian business that is being acquired; the degree of control or influence that a state-owned enterprise would likely exert on the industry in which the Canadian business operates; and the extent to which the foreign government in question is likely to exercise control or influence over the state-owned enterprise acquiring the Canadian business.
    The national security provisions have also been raised a number of times. In 2008, the Competition Policy Review Panel, led by Mr. Wilson, in its final report called “Compete to Win”, recommended that the government introduce national security provisions in the ICA. It is amazing, quite honestly, that it was not until 2008 that Canada had a consideration for national security provisions within its ICA. In 2009, that recognition was given.


    Under the national security review provisions, the Minister of Industry, in consultation with the Minister of Public Safety, is required to review all transactions, regardless of value, for national security concerns. In cases of concern, if it does show up at varying degrees of severity, a more in-depth review is undertaken and the minister may present the matter to cabinet for consideration. Cabinet is given broad powers to protect Canada's national security interests under the act, which are similar to protections in peer countries.
    As we all know, the Prime Minister announced plans to permit the extension of national security reviews in the exceptional cases where it is necessary to do so. This will ensure that the government has the time it needs to thoroughly examine the complex cases that come before it. There is no more solemn duty of the government than protecting Canada's national security. In adding a national security review process, this government brought Canada's investment review regime into line with the practices of countries around the world.
    We have heard a lot in the discussions in the House about net benefit review and those thresholds. The government also accepted another recommendation of the Competition Policy Review Panel. The government has taken steps to increase the net benefit review threshold from the existing $330 million to $1 billion. The purpose here is both to limit the role of the government in the private sector and to permit a focus on only the most significant transactions.
    Additionally, the government accepted the panel's recommendation to shift the basis for calculating the review threshold from asset value to enterprise value. The government followed this recommendation in recognition of the fact that the business world has changed. Intellectual property, such as patents and trademarks, are of growing importance to business. Yet intellectual property is undervalued when considered on the basis of asset value. Enterprise value does a better job of more accurately capturing the value of a going concern business, including its intellectual property.
    Members will recall that the Prime Minister announced that the increase in the net benefit review threshold will go forward for private businesses. However, and this is important, the higher threshold will not apply to transactions proposed by state-owned enterprises. Investments by state-owned enterprises will still be subject to a net benefit review at the lower threshold of $330 million. This will ensure these transactions are closely monitored.
    When we look at transparency and enforcement, the Investment Canada Act contains strong confidentiality protections, which are necessary to ensure that investors willingly provide the sort of information that is required to conduct net benefit reviews. Under the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, the ICA was amended. These are changes that will address the concerns of the opposition. The changes permit the disclosure of more information about the review process while still preserving commercial confidences. Specifically, the minister may disclose the fact he has sent preliminary notice to an investor that he is not satisfied that the investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada. He may also explain his reasons for sending the notice, so long as it would not prejudice the Canadian business or the investor. At the same time, the ICA was amended to assist the government in obtaining investor compliance with undertakings.
    In conclusion, our government has demonstrated over and over again that it needs to act and has acted to ensure that Canada's investment regime protects Canada's interests and is relevant to the global economic reality, which is a moving target. The Prime Minister's announcement of changes to the foreign investment review framework on Friday night were welcomed, not only by our caucus but by people around the world.


     Mr. Speaker, the government heralded this new era of investment review on Friday. The member for Don Valley West gave us an overview of the FIRA regime back in the 1970s.
    With each change to the investment review, such as what happened in 1973 and 1985, they were set on foundations. For instance, the FIRA was set on the Gordon commission, the Watkins report, the Wahn report and the Gray Report, which finally formed the FIRA. A similar process happened in 1985.
    Exactly what studies, what reports and what foundations are there for the Prime Minister's Friday improvisations? Where is the backing for those changes in the new era of investment review for Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that the reference goes back to the 1970s and 1980s.
    As I mentioned in my report and in my speech, we are now in the 21st century and the demographics of our country have changed. Industry and manufacturing have changed. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, we did not have many state-owned enterprises that were interested in buying into Canada.
     Over the last number of years, especially through this downturn in the economy, Canada has, through its economic action plan, been able to shine, show its strength and show its ability to function as an economic powerhouse around the world. We have now become a bit of a lightning rod for investment, not only from foreign investors but also for state-owned companies that want to have control or take some control.
    As the Prime Minister has said, we are not now starting a new trend, we are actually stopping a trend of having state-owned companies take over the investments in our country, particularly in terms of the oil sands. We will also be tightening security in terms of other state-owned investments within Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, the member talked at length about some of the known guidelines in the Prime Minister's announcement that state-owned enterprises would now be at a $330 million level and that there are other thresholds at $1 billion.
    The CNOOC investment in this particular case is an investment of $15 billion. CNOOC is owned 64% by the state. In 2012, there was a report by the U.S.-China economic and security review commission. It is very worried about Chinese involvement. I will read a quote from that and ask the member about reciprocity. It reads:
    The Chinese government guides FDI into those sectors it wishes to see grow and develop with the help of foreign technology and capital. Foreign investors are frequently forced into joint ventures or other technology-sharing arrangements, such as setting up research and development facilities, in exchange for access to China’s market. Meanwhile, large swathes of the Chinese economy are closed to foreign investors. China’s investment policies are part of the government’s plan to promote the development of key industries in China through access to foreign technology and capital.
    Did we, as a result of the deal on Friday, which the Prime Minister signed without a whole lot of public transparency, get reciprocity into that market to cover off some of these concerns?


    Mr. Speaker, I always welcome the comments from my friend from Malpeque.
    I find his comments interesting because the only comments I heard this past weekend in my riding about this agreement were positive. People know Canada's position in moving forward. They actually know that in the trade agreements that we have done with many countries around the world, as well as the host of agreements we have coming forward, we are looking after the particular interests of Canadians.
    I find his comments sort of interesting, quite honestly, because the Liberal Party, of which he is a member, never did much consultation when it was in government. When these agreements came in, the Liberals rubber-stamped them and they would go through. We have decided as a government that we cannot do that. The security and investment in Canada is much too important.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the intrepid member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
    I am proud today to stand and second today's motion and speak in support of the member for Burnaby—New Westminster's motion. I also wholeheartedly agree with the amendment proposed by the member for LaSalle—Émard.
    It is far past time that this Parliament clarifies the criteria for the net benefit test and improves the transparency of decisions taken with respect to foreign takeovers. In fact, the time to do this was in 2010 when the Conservative government unanimously supported an NDP motion for a clear net benefit test and a more transparent investment review process.
    Contrary to its talking points, we know that the Conservative government is not one that supports transparency for itself. Since coming to power, the government has done everything it can to close doors and keep Canadians out of the discussion, whether by abusing committee in camera rules so no motion is dealt with publicly, on the F-35, or these kinds of backroom deals.
    The manner in which last Friday's evening announcement was made shows exactly what is wrong with this process. The New Democrats believe that the government has badly mismanaged the takeover applications from CNOOC and Petronas by failing to clarify rules for governing foreign investment. The government has confused international markets. Trading on Friday afternoon was proof positive. Shares of CNOOC and Nexen were all across the board, even triggering a circuit breaker that stopped trading on these shares in the stock market because of the confusion sown by the government.
    If only the Conservative government were as good at handling the economy as it is with sticking with PMO talking points. During question period last Friday, I asked why there had been no consultation with Canadians over the Nexen takeover and whether we should expect a decision taken in the light of day or another decision taken in the dark. Of course, soon after the House adjourned and MPs went back to their ridings, the Prime Minister announced after the sun went down that his government would be approving the Nexen-CNOOC deal.
    The Conservatives have shown time and time again that they do not respect investors by not clarifying the net benefit rules and they do not respect Parliament by not making the announcement here or by giving members of Parliament a vote. Polls show that nearly 70% of Canadians have serious concerns about the CNOOC takeover. Canadians have a right to be concerned as they have seen what this kind of deal that the Conservatives have approved brings.
    The Conservatives approved the sale of Falconbridge mining that resulted in the elimination of 686 permanent jobs. The Conservatives took no action. Two U.S. Steel plants in 2009 were shut down resulting in the elimination of 1,500 jobs. The Conservatives again took no action.
     We need to clarify the net benefit test to ensure future takeovers benefit Canadians and do not result in undue job losses.
    Of course, the Conservatives are not the only ones with a terrible track record in handling foreign takeovers. I need to ask today why the Liberals are now siding with the Conservatives on selling out Canadians to foreign state-owned companies. History seems to be repeating itself with the Liberals. They reviewed thousands of takeovers during their time in government and turned down not one of them.
     Canadians from coast to coast to coast are demanding that the Liberals and Conservatives stop selling us out and to clarify net benefit.
    Under pressure over these takeover bids, the Conservatives promised to introduce new guidelines to clarify the investment review process, particularly for state-owned enterprises. The new guidelines announced on Friday are vague and inadequate and will not give certainty and protection for Canadians or for investors. The Conservatives have once again broken their promise to fix the Investment Canada Act. Instead, they merely tinkered with the process that everyone agrees is broken. Hence, this is why the Calgary Chamber of Commerce made its call and why we are here today supporting that call for clear rules on net benefit.
    The Conservatives claim that under the new rules the takeovers by state-owned companies will only happen under exceptional circumstances. What are these exceptional circumstances? Without clarity, which is what we are calling for in this motion today, an exceptional circumstance could be what side of the bed the Prime Minister gets up on that morning. In other words, the Conservatives will never sign another deal like this ever again, until another deal like this lands on the table of the industry minister.


    It is the Minister of Industry who has mishandled the sale of Nexen and continues to keep Canadians in the dark. The minister was so eager to please China that the Conservatives approved the acquisition of Nexen by CNOOC even though they had said the rules were not good enough and they are changing them just so this kind of deal could not happen again.
    Just yesterday, the minister also indicated that it is now up to China to reveal the so-called benefits of this deal to Canadians. That is incredible. It is the responsibility of the Conservative government and the minister to explain themselves and their actions to Canadians, not for us to go running to China to find out what happened.
     Both the business sector and Canadians need certainty when it comes to foreign takeovers, but the current review process lacks full transparency and accountability. We now have a chance once again to fix this. New Democrats are demanding a full and public review of the Investment Canada Act by Parliament to protect Canadians and investors. Canada needs foreign investment to grow our economy and develop our resources, but we should not be sacrificing control of our future by forfeiting our ability to ensure economically and environmentally sustainable resource development.
    As good public administrators, New Democrats want to set specific criteria for state-owned companies to meet net benefit requirements, to protect the Canadian economy from potential foreign government interference. New Democrats want to improve the transparency of decisions and to clarify the net benefit test. Canadians deserve more than secret deals and economically ignorant Conservatives.
    As this House did in 2010, will the government be supporting our motion to clarify the net benefit test, but this time actually do it?
    On that note, it has come up multiple times in the industry committee, and the member for Burlington has spoken about it today, that a couple of years ago the minister sent a request to have the committee study the Investment Canada Act. The committee being master of its own domain, as we constantly hear from the other side, chose to study something else at that time. Now the New Democrats, since being elected as the official opposition last year, have been calling time and time again for the industry committee to study the Investment Canada Act. I would really like to ask if the member for Burlington is actually going to support the motion this time so we can have that study and actually clarify the rules for Canadians.
    Recently, we have been doing a study on intellectual property in the industry committee, another very important and critical aspect of Canada's economy. One thing that has come up time and time again during the study is how important intellectual property is. What factors are taken into consideration with respect to the intellectual property that a company holds when a review is being undertaken? We have absolutely no answer from the Conservatives. As far as we know and can tell, they are not factoring intellectual property into whether there will be a net benefit to Canada when these foreign takeovers happen. This is a strategic and critical element that needs to be resolved in order to make sure future deals, as intellectual property gains importance, include it in the study of net benefit tests. We certainly have no answer from the government.
    We have heard time and time again today about the government bringing more clarity to the process. In fact, the opposite is true. A couple of years ago with the potential sale of the Potash Corporation and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, they were both turned down after much pleading and much effort from the New Democrats, as well as from the Saskatchewan government. We were pushing for those deals to be blocked. The government came up with a new term at that point: a “strategic asset”. That is why it did not sell Potash. The Conservatives still have not clarified that. They still have not clarified “net benefit”.
    Now they have brought a new term into the debate, which is “exceptional circumstances”. Now instead of having a clearer process, we have “net benefit”, which is not defined; we have “strategic assets”, which is not defined; and we have “exceptional circumstances”, which is not defined. This makes the process absolutely as clear as mud.


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way. I want to clarify a couple of his statements to make sure the next time he comes to the House he does the homework. On the Stelco deal with U.S. Steel, it did not meet its obligations and the Government of Canada, this government, took it to court and sued it. We came to an out-of-court agreement to resolve those issues; so we do take action when they do not make it.
    Members should do their homework first, before they say things that are not actually true.
    Second, I was on the industry committee when the minister of industry at the time—a different minister from the one we have presently—sent us a letter asking us to please study this before there are any issues, saying we needed to not look at the law when there is a crisis or an issue but look at it in an intellectual, systematic approach to see what we can do better. However, the NDP, the Liberals and the Bloc got together and said we could not do that.
    The last piece, which I need to explain to my colleague, was on the P3 issue we are dealing with around intellectual property. Under section 3 of the criteria, it says that the effect of investment on productivity, industrial efficacy and technological development and product innovation, which is what we are talking about, is covered under these—
    Order, please.
    The hon. member for Scarborough Southwest.
    Mr. Speaker, I notice there were lots of words in that sentence but it does not say “the protection of intellectual property”. It says “product innovation”.
    With respect to U. S. Steel and Stelco, it was only after this side of the House was attacking the government time and time again that it actually took U.S. Steel to court. Guess what. They settled out of court and we still do not know the details.
    The smelter in Hamilton has been closed down again, so where is it that the government defending Canadian jobs?


    Mr. Speaker, compatibility with federal and provincial economic policies is one of the criteria to approve a foreign investment.
    Does my colleague see any evidence that the government consulted with the provinces before authorizing the sale?


    Mr. Speaker, as we heard from Premier Redford in Alberta, they are going to be evaluating the deal that was made, because the consultations did not happen beforehand.
    That actually brings up another important point that has been raised a few times by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence when he talks about the strategic importance of the Alberta oil sands. My question there would be: Why is it fair to draw a line, or perhaps a firewall, around there when we have other strategic assets and investments that are going to be happening in the Ring of Fire? Why is it more important than the Ring of Fire? Why is it more important than oil and gas in Newfoundland and Labrador? Why is it more important than development happening in Canada's territories?
    Furthermore, where does it take into consideration that all of this development is happening on first nations land? Why are they not at the table? Why are they not being consulted about what is going to be happening to their land and their future?


    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to engage colleagues opposite in questions. The difference between the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and them over the contents of the motion is that the Calgary Chamber of Commerce actually wants investment, which the NDP is not really succeeding in disguising as its real agenda.
    The member represents Toronto, a global financial hub. He represents constituents whose jobs depend on foreign investment and exports. Could the member give us one example of foreign investment in Canada, of net benefit to Canada, that he is on record as supporting?
    Mr. Speaker, I take issue with the member's statement about not supporting foreign investment and development. The member clearly was not listening when I spoke. I will quote from my own speech again.
    Canada needs foreign investment to grow our economy and develop our resources, but we should not be sacrificing control of our future by forfeiting our ability to ensure economically and environmentally sustainable resource development.
    Therefore, why did the member just lie there?


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his excellent speech. I would also like to congratulate the member for Burnaby—New Westminster for moving this motion in the House.
    Today we are talking about the importance of defining the concept of “net benefit”. Why is this notion of net benefit so important? Why should we bring up the issue? When Canadians are asked their opinion, most of them believe that the government must exercise our independence, our economic sovereignty and our energy sovereignty. This is what my constituents often tell me. They ask me what I am going to do to protect them from the foreign forces that may harm our industries from the point of view of their economic and energy security.
    When Canadians see the sale of a significant proportion of their energy industry, they wonder how this can be to their net benefit. Last Friday, the prime minister clearly mentioned that there was no net benefit for Canadians in the sale of Nexen and Petronas to state-owned companies—in the case of Nexen, to a state-owned company controlled by the communist and totalitarian Chinese government.
     The problem is not the fact that the company is Chinese—people of Chinese origin have contributed significantly to building our nation, and their contribution, especially in terms of the railway, was central to the birth of modern-day Canada. The problem is not the fact that the company is Chinese, but rather that CNOOC, a state-owned corporation, is a branch of the communist government in China. Canadians are extremely concerned, because they fear such a corporation controlling a proportion of our natural resources.
     However, New Democrats are not the only ones who are concerned about these actions. Earlier this year, Peter Lougheed, the former premier of Alberta, passed away. This is what he said about this issue:



    I know people will fall from their chairs to hear me say this, but maybe right now we need to return to the Foreign Investment Review Agency. We need to be more interventionist. The passive approach isn't working. If the (present trend) continues, we are going to look at our country in about three years and say: What have we got left?


     Those are not the words of a New Democrat or a Liberal; they are the words of a Conservative who served the province of Alberta for many years. He was a well respected man. When a person like Peter Lougheed is worried and suggests that we return to the Foreign Investment Review Agency, there is cause for concern. That is why Canadians are expressing their misgivings about this so forcefully.
     Statistics show that there has been tremendous growth in foreign takeovers. This year, foreign acquisitions were worth $9.5 billion in the first quarter, $12.4 billion in the second quarter, $5.9 billion in the third quarter, and now in the fourth quarter, the Nexen deal is worth $15.1 billion and the Petronas deal $5.3 billion. The grand total is $48.8 billion, with no real oversight on these investments.
     That is the problem: there is no clear oversight and there are no guarantees. When CNOOC came in to buy Nexen, we got no long-term guarantee that there would be jobs in the Calgary office or any enhanced innovation in Canada.
    Perhaps they will take Nexen's technology and use it around the world. Canada will not benefit from that. Here is what Jack Layton said about this: Canadians have the right to know whether or not an investment is in the country's best interest. We must have the power to retaliate when a company's actions threaten the country's interests, even if the company is foreign-controlled.


    We have been talking about net benefit today. Let us talk about what would have been of net benefit to Canada had this deal been negotiated properly. Let us talk about reciprocity. A crucial piece of this deal could have been using it as leverage for reciprocity. The Chinese state-owned enterprise was allowed to buy a part of our strategic assets in energy, Canadians ask if we can we buy strategic assets in China. The answer from the government benches would be no. Could we have tried to leverage this deal to get reciprocity? The answer would be yes. Did the government do so? The answer would be no.
    The government and, in particular, the Minister of Industry cowed on this deal. He contented himself with CNOOC's answer, which was that to get increased reciprocity in China, the Canadian government would have to have separate negotiations with the Chinese government. Never mind that CNOOC is an arm of the Chinese government. I can see clearly now the face of the industry minister turning red and him cowing to representatives of CNOOC when they told him he would have to negotiate with the Chinese government. It goes to show that when it comes to negotiating our shared future, the Conservatives get a failing grade.
    That makes me wonder why the government has ministers at all when it is clear that the PMO calls the shots and drafts their talking points for them. We will note that it was the Prime Minister who made the announcement on Friday, not the industry minister. As far as I could see from that press conference, the industry minister was not present at all. The micromanager in chief, the Prime Minister, has had to step in once again to do damage control for a minister who did not do his job properly.
    Time after time the minister stood in this place and told Canadians that with the approval of these sales, the reformulation of the rules around the Investment Canada Act and the new guidelines would be clear. He said that the government would put forward a new era with clear guidelines about foreign investment in Canada. All we can see today, Monday, a few days later, is people scratching their heads. This is not a clear way forward. It is basically improvisation. The Conservatives are making it up as they go along. After months of the micromanager in chief asking his charge if he has completed his assignment, the red-faced minister kept saying no. Finally the Prime Minister had to step in and say enough is enough, let us get on with this and swallow the bitter pill.
    That is not the way to manage an economy. It is not a responsible way for a government to proceed. Frankly, I have to say the government has made a real mess of this deal. It really was not careful in negotiating it. What does exceptional circumstances mean? No one knows. I could ask every member what it means and they would probably all give me a different answer, but I am going to hazard a guess.
    Exceptional circumstances means that the Prime Minister engages with a foreign power as damage control for a previously failed foreign policy with that country. It means that, being strong-armed, the Prime Minister is put into a corner when that foreign power wants part of our resources, and the industry minister is incapable of developing the spin because Canadians do not support the sale in large numbers. Exceptional circumstances, indeed; every Canadian knows that is what happened.
    I really hope that the government goes back to the drafting table. If it truly wants to start a new era of investment review, it should do so on the foundation of reports, expert advice and Canadians' input.


    Mr. Speaker, it is important for us to hear all the different sides, but we are hearing so many errors on the subject of foreign investment, I do not know where to start.
    First, it is the provincial crown that owns the assets of mineral rights. Therefore, any development that is done is done in tandem.
    I should also remind members that, with Canada having a small population, we cannot afford to finance as many of these natural resource development projects as we would like simply because we do not have the capital. We should be welcoming foreign investment and putting out clear rules, which is what the Prime Minister and the Minister of Industry have done.
    If the New Democratic Party is against foreign investment and trade, why not come out and be honest and say that is its position rather than throwing out errors, omissions and misrepresenting the facts? I would ask the member to be honest with the NDP's position on investment and on trade.
    Mr. Speaker, it is pretty clear which side is making the mess and the errors. It is the government side doing that. It has made errors and a mess of this deal. I outlined the fact that we did not get reciprocity. In Alberta, it could not get a guarantee from CNOOC that Nexen is going to invest in upgrading here in Canada.
    Frankly, I find the Conservatives' attitude fairly defeatist. They always get up and say, “Canadians can't do it. We have to bring foreigners in to do it because Canadians aren't capable. We don't have enough money. We're not good enough or smart enough. Gee, gosh, shucks, we need that money to help us out”.
    I do not believe it. I think that is defeatist and we can do better.


    Mr. Speaker, I wish to acknowledge the work of the hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges. He is a real leader in the House. He has the professional attitude necessary when examining investments under the Investment Canada Act and its related procedures. I want to highlight the leadership shown by the hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges in recent months.
    The government has said everything is proper and that it will hand Nexen over to CNOOC. At the same time, CNOOC has acquired special powers and rights because of this government and the Canada-China investment treaty.
    Is the hon. member worried about the fact that CNOOC will now have the same rights as Canadian companies and will be able to expand its scope of activities in Canada as much as it wants, because of the approval it was given last Friday?


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his comments.
    I am not the only one who is concerned. Canadians are also concerned.
    CNOOC is protected by Canadian investment laws. As a result, this company can increase its oil sands lease holdings.
    And, it is not just a matter of oil sands. The people of Prince George—Peace River must also be concerned because we know that Nexen has shale gas lease holdings in northeastern British Columbia. So it is not just oil sands.
    The Americans also have concerns about this with regard to the Gulf of Mexico. This could be complicated. The government has not been vigilant in the way it is dealing with this issue. Many things could come of this. Many bad things could come of this. Canadians are mainly concerned that their energy sovereignty and economic sovereignty will be threatened.
    It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Guelph, Food Safety.


    Mr. Speaker, I will note at the outset that I will be sharing my time with the member for Brant.
    Trade and investment both into and out of Canada are critical components of a prosperous Canadian economy. Thanks to our government, Canada has one of the most inviting investment climates in the world. We are committed to encouraging market-based foreign investment that benefits Canadians by attracting the capital, technology and access to global opportunities that will help our businesses grow and remain competitive.
    As of 2011, investments by Canadian firms outside of Canada reached $685 billion, while foreign investment into the country reached $608 billion. Foreign investors are clearly interested in the strong and stable Canadian economy that our government is committed to sustaining.
    Last Friday the Prime Minister made an important statement clarifying how the government will approach foreign investment decisions under the Investment Canada Act, or ICA, in the future. The Prime Minister indicated that it is important for Canadians and foreign investors to understand that the recent investment decisions are not the beginning of a trend but rather the end of a trend.
    The dynamics of the global economy have shifted significantly over the last several years and the government has responded by clarifying the investment review regime. Foreign investment to and from emerging markets, particularly in Asia, is rapidly increasing across the world. For example, over the last decade foreign investment from Asia to Canada more than doubled. To maximize the benefits of changing global trade and investment flows, the government is clarifying how it plans to leverage Canada's existing foreign investment review framework to address such emerging economic realities.
    The changing global investment landscape has seen a surge of economic activity from state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, across international borders. SOEs are entities that are owned, controlled or influenced, both directly and indirectly, by a foreign government. They therefore do not respond only to market signals the way private enterprises do.
    In Canada, inward foreign SOE investment has grown from a nominal amount to over 20% of transactions subject to Investment Canada Act review. The nature of foreign SOE investment in Canada has also begun to change to one that aims to acquire majority control over Canadian businesses, particularly in the oil sands. The Canadian oil sands represent fully 60% of the global reserves of crude oil not already directly controlled by governments and their SOEs. With that comes a responsibility to sustain balanced ownership of this critical resource.
    As Canada's oil sands are controlled by a comparatively small number of private sector businesses, the question of ownership and control becomes more critical, and the potential for foreign states to gain control of an entire industrial sector is significant. As a result, going forward, investments by foreign SOEs to acquire control of a Canadian oil sands business would only be found to be likely to be of net benefit to Canada on an exceptional basis.
    Canadians are rightly concerned by efforts of foreign governments to control increasing portions of our economy. That is why the Minister of Industry will closely monitor and scrutinize all proposals by foreign state-owned enterprises to acquire Canadian businesses across the rest of the economy. That is why our government is addressing the issue of proposed acquisitions of control of Canadian businesses by foreign SOEs. The issue really is acquisitions of control, rather than minority investments or joint ventures. This is true of the oil sands, of the natural resources sector and of the entire Canadian economy.
    Our government has not only clarified the ICA net benefit review process, but also issued revised guidelines for foreign SOE investors. The state-owned enterprise guidelines have been revised to clarify how the Investment Canada Act applies when an investment under net benefit review is being proposed by an investor that is owned, controlled or influenced by a foreign state.
    The guidelines outline the government's commitment to ensure that the governance and commercial orientation of foreign state-owned enterprises are considered in determining whether acquisitions of control in Canada by the SOE are of net benefit to Canada. The guidelines also emphasize the importance of free market principles and the impact of the investment on employment, production and capital levels in Canada.
    Finally, the guidelines stress that foreign state-owned enterprises must demonstrate that an investment will make a positive contribution to the productivity and industrial efficiency of a Canadian business. In addition to these clarifications to the SOE guidelines, our government will also be amending the Investment Canada Act to allow for the extension of the timelines related to the national security review process, which our government introduced in 2009.
    National security is of fundamental importance and these amendments will give the government the time it needs to conduct careful and thorough reviews of complex proposed investments that could be injurious to national security.


    The final clarification that the Prime Minister outlined in his statement on Canada's foreign investment framework is that the government will be proceeding with the progressive liberalization of the ICA net benefit review threshold to $1 billion in enterprise value over the next four years for private sector investors. However, the Prime Minister also stressed that the existing threshold level of $330 million in asset value would remain in place for foreign SOE investments.
    These positions align with the government's openness to market-based foreign investment while at the same time closely scrutinizing foreign SOE investment across the Canadian economy.
    By clarifying how the government will be using Canada's foreign investment review framework to advance the long-term prosperity of Canadians, we have stressed that we will maintain an open market-based approach to foreign investment in Canada, and that we will exercise a level of scrutiny of proposed transactions that is appropriate to the evolving economic and security context.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be brief and ask a fairly clear and simple question. The member for Burlington has raised it.
    We have been trying to get the Investment Canada Act studied at the industry committee so we can thoroughly look through everything that has been proposed, all the changes that are happening and to actually have industry and Canadian stakeholders come to committee to report on what they like, what they do not like and what they would like to see in the Investment Canada Act that would make it better for Canadians.
    We do have a motion to that effect coming back to committee in January. Will the parliamentary secretary be supporting the opposition motion to study the Investment Canada Act?
    Mr. Speaker, I will give the hon. member a little bit of a history lesson because he was not here in the previous Parliament.
    Prior to the May 2011 election, the industry committee had a motion before it to study the Investment Canada Act. At that time, members of the Conservative Party were in the minority compared to the opposition coalition. The NDP, the Bloc and the Liberals had one more member than we had. We wanted to study the Investment Canada Act. In fact, on a few occasions we actually had a few witnesses come before the committee. We vehemently put forward the idea that this should be the priority for the committee at the time because it seemed as though the NDP was going to force an election.
    It was the NDP that held the deciding vote. The NDP member on that committee, the member from Windsor, and the hon. member might want to talk to him, held the deciding vote on that committee and decided to align himself with the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals to determine that we would instead study the census, which had been studied for hours and hours at committee. They deemed there was some political advantage to doing that.
     Obviously, in the end, maybe it was not the case when the election actually came about, but that might be a subject that he would want to take up with the NDP member from Windsor who held the deciding vote on that issue.


    Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the Minister of Natural Resources has said that the Nexen deal, which was approved last Friday night, would not have been approved under the new guidelines, how can my colleague say that it is a net benefit?
    I also want to ask him why, in the year and a half or more since his own party was so keen to study the Investment Canada Act, it has shown so little interest in doing so?
    Mr. Speaker, in terms of the question in relation to the specific transaction the member is referring to, it is very clear that the transaction was approved under the law and the guidelines that were in place at the time.
    As it relates to decisions that this government will take on behalf of Canadians, Canadians can look at different extremes when they are looking at the opposition parties. They can look at a Liberal Party, in which I believe that member was in cabinet in the former Liberal government, which just rubber-stamped every transaction that came before it.
    We then have the New Democratic Party which has opposed every single transaction. I note that the NDP member, who just asked me a question, when asked, after giving his speech, to name one transaction that his party actually supported, he could not name one transaction. The NDP does not actually support any transactions.
    What this government will do is take a balanced approach. We will assess proposed transactions under the Investment Canada Act and determine whether they are of net benefit to Canada. We will only approve transactions that are of net benefit to Canadians.