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View Raymond Côté Profile
View Raymond Côté Profile
2013-06-13 10:20 [p.18266]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by many of my constituents.
The petition concerns the amalgamation of the Canadian International Development Agency with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The petitioners are concerned about the amalgamation, particularly the possible realignment of international development assistance programs. They are calling on the government to uphold international aid principles. Also, to ensure the integrity of assistance programs, they want the minister to be given the same status as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
View Bruce Stanton Profile

Question No. 1302--
Mr. Philip Toone:
With regard to funding in the electoral district of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, what is the total amount of federal funding allocated to the electoral district from fiscal year 2011-2012 up to and including the current fiscal year, broken down by year, department, agency, initiative and amount?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1304--
Ms. Françoise Boivin:
With regard to the distribution of jobs with federal departments and agencies in the National Capital Region (NCR): (a) how many jobs were located in the Quebec part of the NCR in 2013; (b) how many jobs were located in the Ontario part of the NCR in 2013; (c) how many jobs in the Quebec part of the NCR will be eliminated as a result of the cuts introduced in the last budget; and (d) how many jobs in the Ontario part of the NCR will be eliminated as a result of the cuts introduced in the last budget?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1305--
Hon. Irwin Cotler:
With regard to Bill C-10, in the year after it received royal assent: (a) broken down by offence, how many people have been charged for offences created by the bill; (b) broken down by offence, how many people have been convicted of offences created by the bill; (c) broken down by offence, what sentences have been issued to people convicted of offences created by the bill; (d) broken down by offence, how many people have been charged under the provisions of the bill; (e) broken down by offence, how many people have been convicted under the provisions of the bill; (f) broken down by offence, how many people have been sentenced under the provisions of the bill; (g) broken down by offence, what sentences have been issued to people sentenced under the provisions of the bill; (h) in how many of the cases in (d) was a constitutional argument raised by the offender (i) at trial, (ii) on appeal; (i) broken down by geographic jurisdiction and instance, how many cases in (d) are pending (i) at the trial level, (ii) on appeal; (j) how much money has the government spent on prosecutions under the provisions of the bill; (k) how much money has the government spent defending the constitutionality of the bill; (l) in what cases, if any, did the bill provide for punishment where none was provided for under previously-existing provisions of the Criminal Code; (m) broken down by offence and length of sentence, in what cases, if any, did an offender sentenced under the provisions of the bill receive a longer sentence than what was allowed for under previously-existing provisions of the Criminal Code; (n) in what ways has the bill made streets and communities safer; (o) in what ways, if any, has the government reviewed the effectiveness of the bill; (p) what were the results of any such reviews; (q) what reviews of the effectiveness of the bill, if any, are ongoing; (r) when will the results of any such reviews be made available to Parliament; (s) what factors has the government considered when evaluating the effectiveness of the bill; (t) by what standard does the government determine whether repeal of the bill for ineffectiveness is appropriate; (u) what is the prosecution rate for offences created by the bill; (v) what is the prosecution rate for offences with one or more sentencing provisions modified by the bill; (w) what was the prosecution rate for the offences in (v) prior to the coming-into-force of the bill; (x) what is the prosecution rate for offences otherwise modified by the bill; (y) what was the prosecution rate for offences in (x) prior to the coming-into-force of the bill; (z) what is the prosecution rate for all federal offences in Canada; (aa) what is the projected rate of recidivism for offenders convicted under the provisions of the bill; (bb) in what ways has the government worked with provinces and territories to inform prosecutors and police services of the provisions of the bill; (cc) broken down by province or territory, what funding has the government provided to provinces and territories to assist with the implementation of the bill; (dd) what studies, if any, have been undertaken of the impact of the bill on the number of inmates in (i) federal custody, (ii) provincial custody; (ee) what are the results of any such studies; (ff) what is the projected impact of the bill on the number of inmates in (i) federal custody, (ii) provincial custody; (gg) what evidence exists to suggest that the provisions in the bill have deterred criminal activity; (hh) broken down by province and territory, which specific communities, if any, have been made safer by the bill; (ii) in what ways have the communities in (hh) been made safer; (jj) what evidence exists to demonstrate that the communities in (hh) have been made safer; (kk) broken down by province and territory, which specific streets, if any, have been made safer by the bill; (ll) in what ways have the streets in (kk) been made safer; (mm) what evidence exists to demonstrate that the streets in (kk) have been made safer; (nn) which First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, if any, have been made safer by the bill; (oo) in what ways have the communities in (nn) been made safer; (pp) what evidence exists to demonstrate that the communities in (nn) have been made safer; (qq) in what ways have people traditionally marginalized by the criminal justice system, such as women, aboriginal Canadians, and low-income Canadians, been made safer by the bill; and (rr) what evidence exists to demonstrate that the people in (qq) have been made safer?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1306--
Hon. Irwin Cotler:
With regard to the crisis in Syria: (a) what criteria does the government use to determine (i) whether to intervene, (ii) when to intervene, (iii) the nature and scope of any intervention; (b) who makes the determination in (a) and how; (c) what sources does the government rely upon in determining (a); (d) what legal obligations are considered with respect to (a) and in what ways does the Responsibility to Protect doctrine factor into decision making under (a); (e) in what ways has the government evaluated its obligations under the Responsibility to Protect doctrine with respect to Syria; (f) when were such evaluations done, by whom, and with what outcome; (g) have the criteria by which the government determines its official policy towards the crisis in Syria changed since 2012; (h) when the Minister of Foreign Affairs publicly expressed his support for an indictment of Bashar al-Assad by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2012, was this the position of the government and does it remain the position of the government that al-Assad ought to be indicted by the ICC; (j) with respect to Canada’s decision not to sign on to the request of 57 countries made in January, 2013, to ask the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC, did Canada support this request; (k) with respect to (j), when, why, how, and by whom were the determinations made in this regard, and when was Canada approached to join in this endeavor and by what means; (l) what criteria were applied in determining whether to support this effort; (m) are there any specific policies or directives within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade that guide decision-making with regard to Canadian intervention in situations of humanitarian crisis; (n) was the decision not to sign the Swiss-led letter asking the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs; (o) were any other officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade involved in the decision-making process to determine whether to support the Swiss-led international request letter; (p) were any other cabinet officials involved in the decision-making process to determine whether to support the Swiss-led international request letter; (q) was the government made aware of this specific international initiative in advance of the official lodging of the request with the United Nations on January 14, 2013, and (i) if so, how was the government made aware of this initiative, (ii) when was the government made aware of this initiative; (r) did the decision-making process to determine whether to support the Swiss-led international request letter include (i) consultations with the Minister’s counterparts from any other countries, (ii) consultations with the Minister’s counterparts in any of the 56 countries that ultimately supported the Swiss-led initiative, (iii) consultations with any international or intergovernmental organizations; (s) did the government make submissions promoting a specific policy approach with regard to the Swiss-led initiative to (i) the governments of any other countries, (ii) the governments of any of the 50-plus countries that ultimately supported the Swiss-led initiative, (iii) any international or intergovernmental organizations; (t) what steps is the government taking to bring al-Assad before the ICC; (u) has Canada raised al-Assad’s conduct as an issue before the Security Council; (v) what legal remedies has the government invoked with respect to addressing the situation in Syria; (w) what legal remedies has the government invoked with respect to al-Assad in particular; and (x) does the government support an International Criminal Tribunal for Syria?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1307--
Ms. Kirsty Duncan:
With regard to Canada's submission under the Convention on the Law of the Sea: (a) what is the precise extent that will be included in the claim and what scientific research supports that claim; (b) does the government anticipate that Canada's submission will overlap with claims of other nations, (i) if so, has Canada begun consultation with other nations with which its submission may overlap, (ii) which countries has Canada consulted, (iii) what were the dates of those consultations, (iv) what briefings were prepared for those consultations, (v) what briefings were prepared for the Minister responsible after the consultations; (c) which department is the lead agency on Canada’s submission and which other departments are involved; (d) who are the external researchers and institutions involved in Canada’s submission; (e) how much money has been allocated for Canada’s submission and how much of that money has been spent to date; and (f) regarding any Requests for Proposals for research in support of Canada’s submission, (i) what was the process, (ii) what are the milestones, (iii) what reporting has been done so far, (iv) what oversight is in place?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1308--
Ms. Libby Davies:
With regard to government funding, what is the total amount of government funding allocated within the constituency of Vancouver East during the fiscal year 2012-2013, broken down by: (a) department or agency; and (b) for each body mentioned in (a), by initiative or project?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1309--
Ms. Hélène Laverdière:
With regard to the amalgamation of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) into the department of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs (DFAIT): (a) what is the timeline for the amalgamation; (b) which officials within CIDA, DFAIT and other government Ministries, including the Privy Council Office, will be in charge of the amalgamation; (c) what are the expected job losses among CIDA staff and in which divisions; (d) what changes will be made at the senior management level, including CIDA president; (e) will there be a deputy minister for development; (f) will employees be re-located; (g) will the respective unions be consulted; (h) will there be further cuts to funding for development programmes for the purposes of poverty reduction; (i) will CIDA’s countries of focus be changing; and (j) will the promised legislation ensure that Official Development Assistance will continue to be provided only if it (i) contributes to poverty reduction, (ii) takes into account the perspectives of the poor, (iii) is consistent with an international human rights perspective?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1310--
Ms. Hélène Laverdière:
With regard to the Partnership with Canadians program at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), for each year from 2006 to 2010: (a) how many proposals were received, broken down by year and type of call for proposal, if applicable; and (b) how many proposals were approved, broken down by (i) year, (ii) partner, (iii) CIDA priority theme or cross cutting theme, (iv) total dollar amount contributed by CIDA, (v) total dollar amount contributed by partner, (vi) description of project, (vii) recipient country, (viii) length of days of approval, (ix) length of project, (x) grant or contribution?
(Return tabled)
View Bruce Hyer Profile
Mr. Speaker, months ago, I asked the minister to take action before the big three telecoms took over Canada's smaller players and the last sliver of the wireless market. Now we learn that Mobilicity is being swallowed by Telus. WIND and Public Mobile are up for sale too.
Their wireless strategy is failing, and we get soaring wireless costs. Will the minister reserve any new spectrum auction for new entrants only and block the sale of more wireless market share to the big three until we have some real competition?
View Christian Paradis Profile
Mr. Speaker, indeed, we put policies in place back in 2008 to increase competition to have better rates and more choices for consumers. We want to ensure that there is a fourth player in every region of this country. What I can tell my colleagues is that these policies work.
Just recently, we learned from a Wall Communications report that prices went down an average of 11%. This is an accomplishment. We will continue to do so.
View Mike Sullivan Profile
View Mike Sullivan Profile
2013-05-06 17:56 [p.16368]
Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the member is aware, but yet another 350 jobs were lost in his colleague's riding of Etobicoke North when Caterpillar decided to close the once famous and world-renowned Lovat tunnel manufacturer, which was an American company that took over a Canadian world leader. However, this Liberal colleague has voted against our motion to stop FIPA, and the Liberal leader supports the takeover of Nexen.
How does the member feel about the changes to the Investment Canada Act that would drastically reduce the number of takeovers that would be examined by the Minister of Industry, given that we have just lost another 350 jobs as a result of an American takeover?
View Guy Caron Profile
Mr. Speaker, it was exactly two years ago when the people of Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques did me the honour and privilege of choosing me to represent them in the House of Commons. I would like to thank them once again. I believe I have done an excellent job these past two years, and I promise to honour the privilege bestowed upon me of representing them in the House.
It is very appropriate that I rise on this first day of the third year to debate Bill C-60, the federal government's first budget implementation bill. It is appropriate because, as others have already mentioned in this place, the official opposition will not be voting for the bill for a number of reasons. I could probably talk about the 125-page bill for an hour or an hour and a half. This bill is not as hefty as the previous one, but it is nevertheless an omnibus bill that we will call omnibus bill 3.0. This one bill will amend about 50 pieces of legislation with one vote. It is an important bill and we would have liked the Conservative government to be much more pragmatic given the very uncertain economic situation in which we find ourselves.
Yes, there was a major recession in 2008-09, and we are still feeling its effects. Contrary to what the Conservative government is saying, we are not out of the woods yet. In fact, the situation is still uncertain.
For instance, three weeks ago, the International Monetary Fund scaled back its forecast, its economic growth outlook for Canada, reducing it from 1.8% to 1.5%.
A rate of 1.5% in 2013 is less than what Canadian economists were predicting and less than what the Conservative government had predicted. The Minister of Finance predicted growth of 1.6%, and the minister himself admitted that it was a cautious projection. The IMF's projection is even lower than the finance minister's cautious forecast.
Very recently, just two weeks ago in fact, the OECD said that Canada would have one of the slowest growth rates during the first quarter of 2013, which contradicts what the parliamentary secretary was saying. According to him, Canada has the strongest economic growth in the G7. That is completely false. Canada's growth is slower than that of not only the United States, but also Japan, Germany and the G7 average and many G7 countries are still in serious trouble, including Italy for example, and to a lesser degree, France.
Why is the government doing the exact opposite of what it should be doing?
In her latest report, which the Standing Committee on Finance examined this week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer described budget 2013 as an austerity budget, much like budget 2012. The consequences of budget 2012 and budget 2013 mean that, in relation to our economic potential, measures included in budget 2013 will lead to a growth rate that is 0.57% lower than what it could have been without those austerity measures. In terms of job creation, if those austerity measures had not been included in the Conservative budget, we could have created 77,000 additional jobs over the next five years. That is not insignificant.
In the depths of the 2009 recession, Canada created a lot of jobs. This made sense, since we had hit rock bottom. However, the Conservative government's measures are curbing the growth we could achieve without these austerity measures. For example, the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report showed that we are nearly 2% below our potential for economic growth. Our growth is currently very slow, and the Conservatives's measures are doing nothing to improve that. On the contrary, they are limiting our economy's potential growth.
Anyone who does not believe me can read the report issued by the International Monetary Fund three weeks ago. This report says something very interesting:
Although fiscal consolidation is needed to rebuild fiscal space against future shocks, there is room to allow automatic stabilizers to operate fully if growth were to weaken further.
For those watching at home, I will point out that “fiscal consolidation” means “budget cuts” or “austerity measures” in order to balance the budget in 2015-16. This objective to balance the budget before the election is artificial and arbitrary. All Canadians know that.
The International Monetary Fund agrees with the general objective of balancing the budget at some point. It does not mention 2015-16 specifically; it talks about some point in an economic cycle. It also says that there is room for the federal government to allow automatic stabilizers to operate fully if growth were to weaken further. What are these automatic stabilizers? These are measures that directly help the public. We are talking about employment insurance and old age security. These programs are automatic stabilizers that can help avoid stalled economic growth by putting money in people's pockets, particularly people who will spend this money.
But what is the Conservative government doing? It is going against the IMF's recommendations and moving forward with fiscal consolidation, with austerity measures, decreasing the federal government's ability and willingness to strengthen stabilizers such as employment insurance and old age security benefits.
I wonder how we as the official opposition could vote in favour of a budget that flies in the face of growth and job creation in Canada.
Another factor prevents us from voting for this budget: it goes against what the government promised. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State for Finance promised that there would be no tax increases for anyone in the 2013 budget. However, the opposite is true. There are numerous tax increases that total $8 billion over the next five years, $8 billion worth of tax increases.
We could have an adult discussion in the House, to determine whether the government’s measures are reasonable. The government does not even want to consider this. Despite the evidence, it is still denying that there is even one tax increase in the 2013 budget.
The proof is the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds and venture capital corporation funds. The elimination of this tax credit is not included in Bill C-60, but it is something that we expect to see in the next budget implementation bill. This is worth mentioning. The government plans on getting rid of this tax credit, something that will ultimately mean a tax increase for small investors, people who invest small amounts in these labour-sponsored venture capital funds. This represents $355 million over the next five years.
These labour-sponsored venture capital funds are essential for a number of reasons, one being that they help people save. The savings rate in Quebec was one of the lowest in Canada before the early 1980s, prior to the creation of the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. This fund enabled people to save and to set aside money for their old age. The government wants to eliminate the supplementary tax credit, the 15% labour fund tax credit, and in so doing, it will eliminate the major incentive to save that was provided by the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and now the CSN’s Fondaction.
It is also important for investment. Now we have a private venture capital industry, but the fact remains that most of the investment in regional economies comes from labour funds. It is important and interesting to note that one of the first organizations to speak out against the Conservative measure announced in the budget to eliminate the 15% labour fund tax credit was Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association. Why was this group opposed to the measure? It was because it recognized the importance of these two major funds which, by the way, also invest, just like private venture capital organizations.
The government, looking for a good deal and thinking that it could get rid of one more labour organization, announced a totally regressive measure in the budget that goes against our need to encourage savings and venture capital investment.
Bill C-60 also contains another measure, which aims at increasing taxes by eliminating the additional deduction for credit unions and caisses populaires. Eliminating this deduction will lead to a tax hike of $205 million by 2017-18.
The Conservative government is bringing in boutique tax credits and saying that they are tax reductions for Canadians, but of course when you get rid of labour fund or credit union tax credits, it is actually a tax hike.
By getting rid of this deduction, the Conservatives are ignoring the specific mandate of credit unions and caisses populaires. These are not profit-making institutions, as any surpluses are redistributed as dividends to the members, investors and depositors. It is important to note that the mandate of organizations such as credit unions and caisses populaires is very specific and also very different from the mandate of private financial institutions.
When I am in my home riding, I note that there are credit unions in Lac-des-Aigles, Esprit-Sain and Saint-Jean-de-Dieu. There are no longer any banks or bank branch offices, only credit unions. The reason for this is that, even though they are not the most lucrative institutions, they offer essential local services for the people in those areas. No bank is going to do this, and the additional deduction for credit unions and caisses populaires reflected this reality and their specific mandate.
Bill C-60 also eliminates the dividend tax credit, but I will not be able to go into this in detail because I also want to discuss other essential elements in the bill. By eliminating this tax credit, the government will recover $2.4 billion over the next five years through tax increases. Here again, eliminating the tax credit is the same as raising taxes.
It is therefore not true to say that there are no tax increases, as the government has been saying, because there are tax increases totalling $8 billion. I would like to list them all, but I realize that I will not have enough time.
There is a key and crucial element in Bill C-60, and that is the changes to the Investment Canada Act. This legislation requires the Minister of Industry to conduct a systematic review when the acquisition by a foreign company of a Canadian business exceeds a certain threshold, which is currently $344 million. This means that any acquisition over $344 million by a company operating in a country that is a member of the World Trade Organization, the WTO, must be reviewed.
It should be noted that the dollar amount has been increasing gradually. In 1997, the threshold was set at $172 million. Over the years, the threshold has been increased to its current level of $344 million. Over the next three years, the government will be increasing the threshold to $1 billion. Therefore, all acquisitions under $1 billion—for instance an acquisition valued at $800 million or $900 million—will no longer be reviewed by Industry Canada to determine whether they are likely to be of net benefit to Canada and meet Canada’s economic development requirements.
Furthermore, the legislation also specifies that foreign state-owned enterprises will not be covered by this higher threshold. Therefore, a Chinese, Indian, European, American or North American state-owned company that wants to invest and make an acquisition will not be subject to the new threshold levels, and the minimum threshold will still be $344 million.
This is obviously a response to the Prime Minister’s statement in December 2012 on the acquisition of Nexen by CNOOC, a Chinese state-owned company. The Prime Minister said at that time:
When we say that Canada is open for business, we do not mean that Canada is for sale to foreign governments.
However, that is clearly the direction this is going in. The Conservative government is blind to the fact that this measure is absolutely useless and will be challenged by companies such as CNOOC as soon as the government signs the FIPA, the Foreign Investment Protection Agreement.
It could be challenged right out of the gate because FIPA gives foreign companies, including foreign state-owned enterprises, the right to the same treatment as a Canadian company.
With a provision like that—which is meant to exclude CNOOC or any other investor from those provisions or an increase in that threshold—a company will say that there is no national treatment, that it is not being treated like a Canadian business, which is not subject to the Investment Canada Act. The Conservative government is trying to please everyone with measures that make absolutely no sense and that are inconsistent with its international trade measures.
Part 3, division 17 of Bill C-60 allows the federal government to meddle directly in collective bargaining within Canada's crown corporations. The government does not even hide the fact that it is targeting the CBC, VIA Rail and Canada Post.
The Treasury Board Secretariat oversees all of this independently, because crown corporations are supposed to operate at arm's length.
Under this bill, the Treasury Board Secretariat can give direct instructions to directors of crown corporations about salaries, standards, benefits and so on. Basically, the Treasury Board Secretariat can tell directors at the CBC, VIA Rail and Canada Post what they can and cannot negotiate. That takes away the arm's length relationship that defines Canada's crown corporations.
According to another rule set out in Bill C-60, which pertains specifically to negotiations within crown corporations, a Treasury Board Secretariat employee—a federal government employee—can sit alongside directors at the negotiating table.
What happened to the crown corporation's independence and ability to manage its own affairs? Yes, it is accountable to the government for its performance, but the government must not interfere with crown corporations in this way. I did a quick calculation, which is very telling.
When we ask the Minister of State for Transport questions about Canada Post or VIA Rail, he always says that nothing can be done because they are at arm's length from the government. Since the 2011 election, the Minister of State for Transport has refused to answer questions in the House on 22 occasions and has stated that crown corporations make their own decisions and are responsible for them.
In a recent statement made on April 19, he said:
Mr. Speaker, Canada Post will respect the Supreme Court's decision on pay equity and implement the ruling as soon as possible.
As members know, the Crown is at arm's length from the government and is responsible for its own operations, including human resources. The issue the member is referring to is before the courts, and therefore I cannot comment further.
About one month ago, the Minister of Canadian Heritage told the committee:
Library and Archives Canada, like the CBC, like our national museums, operates at arm's length. I don't involve myself in their day-to-day decisions.
For two years, the ministers have refused to answer questions about crown corporations because they are at arm's length from the government. However, the government is tabling Bill C-60 to directly interfere, quite openly, in the negotiations that are supposed to be conducted by the crown corporation's managers and their employees.
The government is not even trying to hide this. It is obvious that it wants to interfere, create downward pressure on wages, claw back benefits and meet its objectives that it keeps trying to ram down Canadians' throats. We saw the general downward pressure exerted on wages by the temporary foreign worker program and the employment insurance reform. That is absolutely irresponsible.
For all these reasons, the official opposition will have no choice but to strongly oppose Bill C-60. This bill does nothing for job creation, good working conditions and economic growth.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-05-02 12:29 [p.16198]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I will share my time with the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
I find it somewhat exasperating to rise once again to express my disapproval at third reading of this omnibus bill. This one is not quite as thick as the others, but even so, this so-called budget implementation bill will change over 50 laws.
The people of LaSalle—Émard are against the omnibus bills that the Conservative government has introduced repeatedly in the House. What is more, it has once again limited debate, as it has done a record number of times since the beginning of this Parliament.
In my remarks today, I will focus primarily on division 6, which is about the Investment Canada Act. Much ink has been and continues to be spilled over this act, particularly in 2012. The largest transaction yet to be reviewed under the Investment Canada Act was the purchase of Canadian oil company Nexen by Chinese state-owned CNOOC.
Many experts have expressed their views on this transaction and on the Investment Canada Act. They have said that the rules were not clear. Throughout the development of that saga in 2012, every time we asked the minister a question, he said that yes, a decision was being made and that yes, the government was going to take net benefit for Canadians into account.
The government waited until December 7, 2012. During a press conference at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, the Prime Minister signed off on this major transaction. The interesting thing is that, during the press conference, the Prime Minister said that the government had approved CNOOC's purchase of Nexen, but then he turned around and said he was going to change the rules. That indicates that the government realized such decisions have significant consequences, but approved the transaction anyway. A closer look at the government's measures suggests that it might be aware it made the wrong decision. This is about natural resources in a strategic sector of the Canadian economy, and now a foreign state-owned company controls part of it.
Once again they have hidden away one of the most important laws, the Investment Canada Act, in an omnibus bill. We have been asking the government for a number of years to carry out an in-depth review of this legislation. Instead, the government is making announcements. It has announced two things. During the Prime Minister's press conference, one of the people attending commented on how the takeover of Canadian companies by foreign corporations would be handled. Those rules are in this bill and, what is more, the Minister of Industry is being given the authority to define or decide what rules will apply to foreign state-owned enterprises. That is worrisome.
The other aspect that I would like to talk about is the increase in the thresholds that trigger the review of these transactions under the Investment Canada Act and the application of the infamous net benefit to Canada test.
The Conservatives are establishing new review thresholds, which will first increase from $600 million to $800 million and then to $1 billion in less than five years. The valuation will no longer be based on asset value but instead on the corporation's market value. With these two factors, fewer and fewer takeovers by foreign corporations will be reviewed under the Investment Canada Act or be subject to the net benefit to Canada test.
This is disturbing because it means that the government is hanging up a big banner across the country that reads “Canada is for sale to the highest bidder”. Even Chris Hadfield will be able to see it from space. That is the government's message.
The NDP recognizes that foreign investment in Canada is important. It stimulates the economy. However, we must understand that some foreign business people and investors see Canada as a pool of talented workers. They come here because they recognize that Canadians are very talented when it comes to innovation and creativity.
They also recognize that Canada has appealing and favourable work conditions. People are treated well here. We have high health, safety and environmental standards. They also recognize the importance of establishing themselves and participating in the community. These foreign investments are a good thing for Canada because they help advance science and technology and improve knowledge sharing.
I have had the opportunity to visit many businesses that are well established here in Canada. They see Canada as a place that supports growth and trade. However, in the last 20 years, a number of businesses have been fair-weather friends. They have come to establish here, have more or less complied with working conditions and then have left. That is my concern, and I demand that we be able to study the Investment Canada Act in committee.
I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to move the following motion: “That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, clauses 136 to 154 regarding the Investment Canada Act be removed from Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, and that these clauses do compose Bill C-62; that Bill C-62 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology; that Bill C-60 retain the status on the order paper that it had prior to the adoption of this order; that Bill C-60 be reprinted as amended; and that the law clerk and the parliamentary counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections as may be necessary to give effect to this motion.”
We are moving this motion because we believe that this section of Bill C-60 is very important and complex and should therefore be carefully studied as a separate bill.
View Jean-François Larose Profile
View Jean-François Larose Profile
2013-05-02 13:08 [p.16203]
Mr. Speaker, as if having something so absolutely deplorable were not enough, to add insult to injury, the government is not even letting us debate each item in this very dense and problematic budget.
We are told that we can send the bill to committee where, as the government knows, it has a majority. We are always being muzzled. Moving a time allocation motion to shorten the debate is another insult.
Since the 1960s, we have been fighting like crazy to prevent foreign takeovers here in Canada. At some point in Quebec, a very large number of private American corporations, for example, controlled the market to their benefit and not ours.
This situation created incredible poverty. People's quality of life, job security and standard of living suffered. We fought to get rid of the problem.
I wonder if my hon. colleague has anything to say about that.
I do not know why he wants to encourage takeovers. We should not sell out, period.
View Mark Adler Profile
View Mark Adler Profile
2013-05-02 13:09 [p.16203]
Mr. Speaker, it has become patently clear that the opposition really has nothing to say about the substance of the bill, so it resorts to criticism of the process.
When it comes to process, this government has been crystal clear. This government will be sending the bill to various committees for comprehensive study. In fact, at finance committee, we will go through Bill C-60 clause by clause, and the NDP can raise amendments and objections at that point.
This is the old bogey that the NDP and socialists love to bring out, that we are being taken over by American companies or foreign companies. We have heard this from the NDP going back to the 1960s, from the waffle movement within its party, and time and time again it has been proven wrong. It was against the Auto Pact. It was against the free trade agreement. It was against NAFTA. It has been against six free trade agreements that our party has negotiated to create jobs in our country. The NDP does not stand with the Canadian worker.
View Mylène Freeman Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today, May 2, two years after the NDP was elected as the official opposition. It has bee two years, but this budget implementation bill still contains the worst of the Conservative policies, even though this legislation should only include budget measures. Therefore, I will oppose this bill because of its content and because of the process.
Bill C-60, which implements parts of budget 2013, increases the tax burden on Canadians with tax increases for credit unions and small businesses. It also includes higher tariffs on thousands of products. It gives Treasury Board very broad powers allowing it to intervene in the collective bargaining process and to impose terms and conditions of employment on non-unionized crown corporation employees. It also amends the Investment Canada Act to significantly reduce the number of takeovers that are subject to review. Finally, it proposes a symbolic but inadequate solution to the flawed approach to the temporary foreign worker program.
To fully understand the problems with Bill C-60, we must go back to its source, the 2013 budget. That budget did not include anything really new, nor did it propose anything satisfactory regarding employment. It continued to target services provided to Canadians by trying to shrink the size of government. In this budget, the government tried to pull a fast one with funds allocated to worker training, and by pretending that infrastructure funds were going to increase when in fact they have been reduced, as my NDP colleagues found out. It is very important to point out that what was announced as new money is in fact a budget cut.
This budget also targets workers' funds and all those who benefit from such funds, including small investors and businesses in our regions. Moreover, the budget does not take seriously the problems facing producers, such as the labour shortage. The changes made to the employment insurance program did not help at all, and many farmers and seasonal entrepreneurs in my riding are having a hard time hiring skilled labour this year. They worry about the impact that these changes will have on them. The budget also does not do anything to help them with risk management.
The budget also shows a lack of conviction regarding the implementation of the Emerson report recommendations. That report, commissioned by this Conservative government, was drafted by the industry. The fact that its recommendations were not fully implemented means the Conservatives are not clearly siding with the aerospace industry, even though that industry creates thousands of jobs in a riding like Mirabel.
Again, with this budget, the government missed an opportunity to reverse its decision to slash old age security and many other programs. It is really unfortunate that this budget does absolutely nothing for the citizens of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.
By amending close to 50 different acts, Bill C-60 follows the same pattern as omnibus Bills C-38 and C-45.
While it is smaller than similar bills we have seen from this government, it still amends 49 pieces of legislation, which is a lot. The mere fact that the bill has fewer pages does not mean it is no worse. In any case, what Canadians want is not something that is no worse. They want something better. To achieve that, measures should be proposed properly, separately, and they should be debated fairly, based on their merits. They should be proposed responsibly in this Parliament.
Omnibus bills like this one and all the other budget implementation bills are fundamentally bad for democracy and for our Parliament.
With Bill C-60, the Conservatives are trying, for the third time, to circumvent parliamentary and public oversight. Canadians deserve better than a Conservative omnibus bill that adds to their cost of living and does not create jobs.
I want to be clear. I will oppose this omnibus bill because it is altogether bad for the Canadian economy. Regardless of what the Conservatives are saying, budget 2013 and Bill C-60 are measures that will slow down the Canadian economy instead of boosting it.
Budget 2013 cuts thousands of jobs, cuts program spending and weakens GDP growth. The Conservatives' plan, starting with budget 2012, will lead to the loss of 67,000 jobs by 2017 and a 0.57% drop in GDP. That is far from the prosperity the Conservatives promised.
I want to talk about something other than figures, but I do want to say that I did not make them up. They came from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who was appointed by this government.
As if it were not enough that this budget does nothing for the economy, with this bill, the government continues to go after workers. The bill gives extensive powers to the Treasury Board to intervene in the collective bargaining process and impose terms and conditions of employment on crown corporations. This interference in the negotiating process is very disappointing. The Conservatives are continuing their direct attack on collective bargaining. What a perfect example of doublespeak. They talk about independence for crown corporations, but they want to impose their austerity ideology and they are crushing that independence by interfering in the management of crown corporations.
I also want to mention that workers are not the only ones who will be negatively affected by this bill. The Conservatives really seem to have it in for the regions. Their tax hikes for credit unions and small businesses represent a direct attack on my riding's economy. Credit unions and SMEs are an important part of our communities' economic and social fabric. The Conservatives are taxing them to benefit the major banks and big businesses.
They amended the Investment Canada Act to considerably reduce the number of takeovers subject to review. That means that businesses outside of major urban centres will no longer be reviewed and, without oversight from the government, could be taken over by foreign companies.
Furthermore, how can we forget their ill-advised EI reform, which targets seasonal workers, who are essential to rural economies, or their attack on labour-sponsored funds, which are supported by workers, investors, unions and businesses, especially in the regions?
It is clear that the budget does nothing for my riding.
In conclusion, the government is trying to say that it is doing a good job managing the economy. In this budget, there is nothing for workers and nothing for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. People deserve much more, and I hope to have the opportunity to give them more in 2015.
View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2013-04-18 10:15 [p.15564]
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should inform the Government of the People's Republic of China, that it will not ratify the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to move a motion on behalf of the official opposition, the New Democrats, to direct the Government of Canada to inform the Government of the People's Republic of China that it will not ratify the Canada-China foreign investment promotion and protection agreement. In doing so, I rise proudly in the knowledge that we are discharging a profound responsibility to this chamber, to Canadians and to our country.
This FIPA is critically flawed in a number of ways and, if allowed to proceed in its present form, will do serious damage to Canada. In fact, in view of the very serious concerns raised about this deal by international trade experts and others, it would be absolutely reckless for the government to proceed to ratify this treaty. Indeed, I believe that many members on the government side are aware of the dangers this deal presents to Canadian interests and are troubled by the agreement's violation of core Canadian values.
I say this because even though the government has been in a position to implement the treaty for over five months now, it has declined to do so. While there may be several reasons for this delay, I believe that one of them is the distinct awareness that this deal is bad for Canada, fails our businesses, threatens our economic interests, violates our democratic processes and puts our taxpayers at risk.
Before proceeding to outline these flaws and shortcomings in detail, I would like to set forth some general principles that the New Democrats hold when it comes to this issue.
New Democrats believe in the importance of engaging with diverse economies and emerging markets. We support the development of clear rules that give confidence to investors, create level playing fields, preserve democratic policy-making and are transparent and accountable to Canadians. We believe in trade and investment policies that promote and protect Canada's interests.
With respect to China, we believe that Canada should deepen and broaden our economic relations. China is the second-largest economy in the world, it is in ascendancy and there are many opportunities for mutual benefit and synergies between our two nations. Developing a rules-based framework that improves the investment and economic activities in both countries is desirable and necessary. With careful negotiation, it is also achievable.
New Democrats know that an investment agreement done well has the potential to be of great benefit to both countries. However, a deal that is poorly negotiated risks doing great harm. Because the Conservatives have taken an extreme ideological approach to negotiating and ratifying trade and investment agreements, they have concluded a carelessly and poorly negotiated deal. Put bluntly, this FIPA will do harm to Canada's economic interests. Canadians deserve better.
Let me start, then, with a summary of the problems with this FIPA.
It ties the hands of Canadian governments at all levels—municipal, provincial, federal and first nations—and restricts them from taking legislative measures in the public interest. It exposes Canadian taxpayers to huge liabilities and multi-billion-dollar lawsuits by foreign corporations if they feel that public legislation affects their profit expectations. It is imbalanced and lacks reciprocity for Canadian investors. It does not help Canadian investors effectively break in to China's markets. It puts at risk Canada's vital natural resources, including those in strategic areas such as energy, and allows these assets to be controlled by foreign state interests, including state-owned enterprises that serve foreign state interests, not commercial ones. It contains an unaccountable dispute resolution mechanism that allows China or Canada to hear lawsuits involving taxpayers' money outside Canadian courts and in secret: no public access, no public disclosure, no media, no transparency and no accountability. It subordinates our environment to corporate interests and puts legislative efforts to protect our land, air and water at risk of being struck down by corporate lawsuits.
It was passed by the Conservatives with no consultation with provinces, first nations, trade experts, business, labour or the public. Outside of this one day called for by the New Democrats, there has not been a single minute of democratic debate after 18 years of negotiation. Once ratified, this FIPA will lock Canada into these damaging terms for a minimum of 31 years.
This is a major economic initiative, and contrary to repeated Conservative misstatements, a deal that raises concerns unlike any other. It concerns billions of dollars of investment. It is the first time since NAFTA that Canada has signed an investor protection agreement with a country that is a major investor in Canada. Unlike virtually every other FIPA Canada has signed, China is a major capital exporting nation with massive foreign currency reserves.
Let us look at the numbers. Chinese investment in Canada hardly registered in 2007. It was too small to record. In 2011, it was $11 billion. In 2012, it doubled to $22.5 billion. According to the Conference Board of Canada, China is projected to be Canada's number two foreign investor in Canada by 2020, exceeding $50 billion a year. That is in seven years.
Before the $15 billion CNOOC-Nexen takeover, Chinese state-owned enterprises, such as PetroChina, Sinopec and CNOOC, had already invested over $10 billion in the Canadian oil and gas sector and controlled more than 7% of Canada's oil sands interests. Today, over $25 billion of Canada's oil sector is controlled by China's state-controlled firms.
Let me quote an economist, Wendy Dobson. She said, “There is a tidal wave that is heading out of China in the next decade and I don't think we're ready for it”.
She estimated that this tidal wave amounted to more than $1 trillion of investment worldwide to acquire access to resources and technology. Yet this deal, which will involve those sums of money, was rammed through this Parliament without any study, debate or vote.
On October 23, as official opposition critic for international trade, I presented a motion to the Standing Committee on International Trade to conduct a study of the agreement and to call a varied list of Canadian stakeholders to committee to provide their views. Conservatives refused to even debate that motion in public. No study was agreed to.
On October 31, the NDP member for Ottawa Centre rose to request an emergency debate on the FIPA. That request was denied by the government.
On October 2, 18, 24, 25 and 31, members of the NDP rose in question period to request that the FIPA be properly studied by a parliamentary committee. Each time, the Conservatives refused even to address the merits of the question.
Through Leadnow, some 80,000 Canadians have sent messages to the government voicing their concerns about this FIPA and requesting proper study and prudence. Just yesterday, in one day, I received over 17,000 emails after this motion calling for this debate was made public. That was in 24 hours. Despite all of this widespread concern and opposition, the Conservative government has refused to bring this FIPA forward for debate, study or vote.
I want to turn to some of the details of why this FIPA is so dangerous and poorly negotiated. I will turn first to natural resources.
This FIPA requires Canada to award national treatment to investments made by Chinese firms once established in Canada. This paves the way for a massive natural resources buyout and foreign-state expansion of ownership in our economy. For example, I have referenced CNOOC's recent purchase of Nexen, which was approved by the Conservatives. Under the FIPA, if CNOOC wants to expand by buying up other oil interests, it can, and it must be treated by this FIPA as if it were a Canadian company. Any attempt by any government to limit this expansion may be met by a lawsuit claiming damages for unequal treatment.
There is a loophole in this FIPA: non-producing oil properties are not subject to Investment Canada Act review. This means that when oil reserves are present, but drilling has not yet commenced, those oil leases are not subject to any kind of review and therefore would qualify under this FIPA for national treatment.
This FIPA will place Canada's strategic oil reserves, and in fact strategic sectors beyond oil, into the hands of foreign states and state-owned enterprises that do not operate as purely commercial businesses but rather would serve the interests of a foreign state. This locks us into a dangerous path of foreign ownership and resource extraction until at least 2044.
Canadians are opposed to this. Canadians want a national conversation and a policy that makes responsible choices for the wisest long-term stewardship of our natural resources in Canada.
This deal is unbalanced. First, this deal allows both parties to maintain their current non-conforming measures. This means that both countries commit to not implementing any new discriminatory barriers to each other's investors in the future, but the agreement allows both to keep any existing non-conforming measures.
Here is the problem. China has been and is a command economy. It has many non-conforming measures. These include requiring foreign investors in China to partner with local Chinese enterprises, to use local suppliers and to source local goods and services. Anyone who has done business in China is well aware of these requirements. However, Canada, which has been on a trade liberalization trajectory for the last 30 years, has largely eliminated such requirements. The result: Canadian investors are at a major disadvantage. This deal fails to secure reciprocal and equal access to China for Canadian investors.
When I asked DFAIT officials at committee for a list of China's non-conforming measure, they first said that they did not have them, then they said that they were on the website, and then they said that they were not sure. The government has signed an agreement allowing China to keep non-conforming measures in place that bind Canadian investors, and it cannot even tell us what they are.
In addition, this deal fails to include Canada's pre-establishment rights model, which grants protections to both existing investors and those seeking to invest. Instead, the Conservatives have acceded to the Chinese model, which provides very little protection to prospective investors compared to existing ones. The result: again, imbalance against Canadian investors. Why? It is because relatively speaking, Canadian investment in China is a relatively small $4.5 billion. In 2012, China had five times that amount invested in Canada, and it is growing exponentially.
As Paul Wells wrote last September, when this deal was released, quoting an investment analysis: “It will be interesting to see if this is spun as an agreement that 'liberalizes' or opens markets for Canadians. If it is, that will not be true”.
Canadian companies need and deserve an agreement that helps remove the barriers that are keeping them out of Chinese markets. The simple reality is that this FIPA fails to provide effective tools to challenge the protectionist barriers the Chinese government has at its disposal to block new foreign investment in the profitable sectors of its economy. For certain, access to sensitive areas of the Chinese economy by Canadian investors has been restricted, while Canada has thrown the doors wide open to firms from China.
This deal will also expose Canadian taxpayers to expensive litigation and billions of dollars in damages. This FIPA provides a mechanism to Chinese companies to sue the federal government if they feel that Canada has passed regulations or policies that they feel amount to unfair treatment or that interfere with their expectations of profits or future expansion.
Foreign corporations can sue Canadian governments and cost Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars. I would like to emphasize that this is not the Conservatives' money; this is Canadian taxpayers' money for enacting laws that protect our energy security, environment, jobs or public health.
This is not a hypothetical concern. Chinese state-owned insurance company Ping An sued Belgium for $3 billion in damages after its profit expectations were not met after the European recession. Canada has been forced to pay damages exceeding $157 million to U.S. firm AbitibiBowater following the Newfoundland government's decision, after the company closed its pulp and paper mill, to reclaim the water and timber use rights it had provided. An investor state tribunal has now ruled against the Government of Canada in another case, because the Newfoundland government tried to get foreign oil companies to invest a certain amount in local research and development to create good jobs in that province. The amount of damages that have to be paid has not yet been released.
Other lawsuits have been filed challenging Quebec's decision to place a moratorium on fracking, Ontario's offshore wind power policy and the Canadian court's invalidation of a drug patent.
In short, this FIPA provides protectionist policies for foreign corporate profits and not for the well-being of Canadians, our economy or our environment.
As the South African government put it, “Investor-state dispute resolution that opens the door for narrow commercial interests to...matters of vital national interest” is a direct challenge to “constitutional and democratic policy-making”.
Let us hear it from the horse's mouth. Here is what one of the international arbitrators himself had to say about the exact type of clause contained in this FIPA:
When I wake up at night and think about arbitration, it never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all. Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament.
That was Juan Fernández-Armesto, an arbitrator from Spain.
Canadians do not agree with this.
All 50 U.S. states, every one of them, have passed resolutions opposing the application of investor state dispute resolution mechanisms in their jurisdictions. They did it last year again.
Let us look at the investor state dispute mechanism in this particular FIPA. This deal changes Canada's long-standing policy of ensuring public access, public disclosure and transparency in arbitrations. For the first time in Canadian history, the Conservatives have agreed to a dispute resolution procedure that violates the Canadian tradition of open courts at the whim of three arbitrators who have no responsibility or accountability whatsoever to Canadians.
I thought Conservatives did not like unelected judges overturning democratic decisions by elected officials. However, in this case, they cannot help but trample down the door and give over sovereignty to three unappointed, unaccountable, world legal arbitrators to overrule decisions made in this Parliament. That is undemocratic and indicative of Conservative principles.
These panels lack the standards and safeguards that apply to judges in Canadian courts. There is no security of tenure for arbitrators, raising concerns about their ability to be impartial. There is no prohibition on arbitrators being paid for non-judicial activities, giving rise to apprehensions about bias and conflicts of interest. Worst of all, these hearings can be conducted in secret, and documents can be hidden from the public.
I have heard a lot of dissembling from the government, so I am going to read for Canadians exactly what the FIPA says in article 28. It states: “Where a disputing Contracting Party”—that is the sued state—“determines that it is in the public interest to do so...all other documents submitted to, or issued by, the Tribunal shall also be publicly available”.
Here is the next clause: “Where...a disputing Contracting Party”—that is the state being sued—“determines that it is in the public interest to do so...hearings held under this Part shall be open to the public”.
If China determines that it is not in the public interest to do so, at its sole discretion, hearings are not open to the public and documents need not be disclosed. What a violation of Canada's tradition of open courts, where Canadians can see justice done when their money is on the line.
Canadians can decide for themselves when Conservatives stand up and say that these hearings will be held in public. I read it right there in black and white.
Interestingly, Canada has made 16 claims through NAFTA's ISDS mechanisms, mostly against the U.S., and we have never won a single case. Neither the U.S. nor China, on the other hand, have ever lost an arbitration brought against them by another country.
I want to talk about the environment a bit. I want to read a section of the FIPA, as well. One would think that when Canada negotiates a deal on corporate interests, it would make sure that nothing in that agreement would inhibit the ability of Canadians governments to protect the environment. Here is what the clause says:
Provided that such measures are not applied in an arbitrary or unjustifiable manner, or do not constitute a disguised restriction on international trade or investment, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent a Contracting Party from adopting or maintaining measures, including environmental measures: (a) necessary to ensure compliance with laws and regulations that are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement
What does that mean? Why do they not just say that nothing in the agreement would prevent any Canadian government from taking any measure to protect the environment, period. That is what the Conservatives could have said. They did not.
The government failed to consult. Wise governments consult, especially when important issues involving Canada's economy, resources and policy-making freedom are at stake, and especially when we are talking about profoundly large deals that would bind Canada's interests for the next three decades.
Canadians want us to be prudent, cautious, informed and intelligent, yet after 18 years of negotiation, the Conservatives have announced this FIPA as a fait accompli, take it or leave it, without conducting a minute of consultation. Predictably, the Conservatives have been taken to court by a first nations lawsuit that was filed on January 18 because of this lack of consultation.
In conclusion, no rational government that cares about Canada's economic interests, democratic policy-making, and citizens' interests could possibly stand beside such a flawed agreement. No prudent government that is sincerely concerned about Canada's future generations, resource security, and environment could possibly defend this FIPA in its current form. No responsible government could defend an agreement that has taken 18 years to negotiate, that would bind Canada for 31 years, and that would affect billions of dollars of investment without proper study and input from Canadians.
Canadians want and deserve a well-negotiated agreement with our trading partners, including China. Let us take the time to ensure we secure such an agreement.
I urge all members of this House to support this prudent, thoughtful, and wise motion.
View Marc-André Morin Profile
View Marc-André Morin Profile
2013-04-16 12:14 [p.15473]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to put a question to a colleague from Alberta. I think it is very relevant.
Does he think that selling Nexen's interests to a Chinese state-owned company will lead to significant investments in Alberta?
We all know what the reality is—that is, the serious labour shortage in Alberta—but perhaps my colleague could confirm the situation.
Will the decision to approve that transaction not create a demand for tens of thousands of temporary foreign workers?
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2013-03-28 11:53 [p.15351]
Mr. Speaker, with Wind Mobile up for sale and Shaw selling its spectrum to Rogers, we will be seeing less competition in the cellphone sector. The Minister of Industry's only response is to beg continually for more foreign investment, but the rules he has created do not help. The minister had a chance to increase competition and expand rural coverage through this fall's spectrum auction, but he failed to do so.
Why should Canadians have to pay higher cellphone bills because of his incompetence?
View Gary Goodyear Profile
View Gary Goodyear Profile
2013-03-28 11:54 [p.15352]
Mr. Speaker, wireless services are changing our families, our work and our economy. We are very proud of that . Our government has worked very hard to increase competition in the Canadian wireless sector to improve the choices and reduce prices for Canadian families, something the Liberals are obviously much against.
Canadian families work hard for their money. Our government is ensuring that they have access to the wireless services that they need for their families and their businesses.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2013-02-26 19:07 [p.14356]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance tonight to follow up on a question I asked before Christmas concerning the takeover of Nexen by the Chinese company, CNOOC. That has actually happened. CNOOC officially took over Nexen on Monday. As we know, it was a $15.1 billion deal, and it was very controversial in Canada. There was a lot of interest in that deal, and it was finally completed on Monday. It is China's largest foreign acquisition ever.
We know the deal generated a great deal of discussion and debate over how much foreign state-owned control there ought to be of industries in Canada, for example, in the oil and gas sector, which is what Nexen is in, and particularly how much foreign state-owned control of our resources in Canada is acceptable. A lot of people felt very strongly about that issue, and they still do.
Although the deal is done now, it does not mean the debate is over. The debate certainly continues. Many Canadians are still concerned about the lack of clarity from the government in terms of how it is going to decide in the future on proposals to take over Canadian companies.
There really is a need for greater clarity on investment issues like this, which impact billions of dollars in investments. They affect our economy, and they affect thousands of Canadian jobs, as we have seen in the Nexen case and others.
The Conservative government's “make it up as it goes approach” is really not acceptable to most Canadians. While Canada must remain open for business, we should not be for sale. Canadians want to have clarity about our foreign investment policy. They do not want a minister who makes decisions late on a Friday night after having some sort of seance or using a Ouija board, or whatever it is. The decision on Petronas came at almost midnight. Canadians do not want decisions made by a Prime Minister who decides on a whim.
The Conservatives have promised for years to bring greater clarity and transparency to this process of reviewing foreign investments, but like so many other issues they have failed to deliver. I think Canadians are disappointed by their performance on issues like this.
That is why the Liberal Party continues to call for more clarity on what constitutes the net benefit test, which is the test that any proposed transition has to meet under the Investment Canada Act. It also calls for greater transparency regarding the issues that are being discussed between the companies and the government. The government could at least tell us a little about that. There should be disclosure of any conditions that are attached to proposed deals. We do not have any idea because the government has not told us what conditions they imposed on CNOOC. What kind of transparency is that from a government that has been promising it for years? It does not make much sense.
We need stronger enforcement mechanisms to make sure the conditions that are imposed are lived up to. We need a clear role for affected provincial governments. We need specific ways in which the public can actually have a chance to express their views. We do not have those things.
I think this shows how confused the Conservatives are when it comes to this foreign investment file. Today the Minister of Industry was in Spain speaking on foreign investment, asking for people to come and invest in our wireless sector. He is basically admitting what a mess he has made of that sector, and what a mess he has made with the spectrum auction rules. We have seen no interest from any small companies in becoming the kind of big companies that could compete and create a better, more competitive system in Canada for wireless.
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