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View Raymond Côté Profile
NDP (QC)
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
CPC (ON)

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?
Response
(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?
Response
(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?
Response
(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?
Response
(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?
Response
(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?
Response
(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?
Response
(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?
Response
(Return tabled)
View Bruce Hyer Profile
GP (ON)
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
CPC (QC)
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
NDP (ON)
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
NDP (QC)
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
NDP (QC)
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
(QC)
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
CPC (ON)
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
NDP (QC)
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
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2013-04-18 10:15 [p.15564]
moved:
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
NDP (QC)
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
CPC (ON)
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.
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party and I welcome him to the file. I thank him for his interest in international trade and in particular for his interest in foreign investment in Canada, something very important for the future of our country, and in particular the CNOOC-Nexen deal, which certainly did raise a lot of interest. I think the government handled it as well as any government could.
We look at foreign investment with a different opinion, quite frankly, than the former Liberal government had during the hon. member's time in government. Not one single foreign investment deal was turned down by the Liberal government. That is certainly not the record of the Conservative government.
I know my hon. colleague follows politics, but he got a little mixed up on the Ouija board, because that was actually Mackenzie King. When he was not using the Ouija board, he was talking to his dog, which was another Liberal Prime Minister.
In all seriousness, foreign investment in Canada is important. It is important to the future of the country. It is important that we do it correctly. I disagree with the hon. member's opinion on whether or not we are doing it correctly.
I want to talk a little about Canadian opportunities for growth, expansion and foreign investment. Much of that investment will come from China or from the Asia-Pacific Rim, and it certainly would be the wrong signal to send if we turned that investment away with the first big deal that China was going to make.
The other issue the hon. member wants to ignore is the fact that we have managed to sign a FIPA with China, one of 24 FIPAs that we have signed. That is something his government was not able to do in its time in office and something we were able to do to protect Canadian investment in China and give our companies the same rules and the same protections that Chinese investors automatically have in Canada. We have a clear set of rules for investment in both directions.
That is just with China. We have 23 other FIPAs with other countries to make sure Canadian investment abroad is protected and to encourage a clear set of ground rules for investment in Canada. To back that up, we have the Investment Canada Act.
The rules are clear, but we need to look at the opportunity not only for Chinese investment in Canada, but for Canadians investing in China. Canadian goods and exports rose by 15% last year to $19 billion. Not only that: our exports to China have nearly doubled under our Conservative government. A 15% increase in exports to any one country is tremendous. It is a huge asset to our workers and our manufacturers, and there are tax dollars generated through that trade.
We are looking at dynamic, high-growth markets, not just in China, but in other countries—in India, all the BRIC nations and the Pacific Rim countries, the mature economies like Japan and the growing economies like Vietnam, as well as other mature economies like South Korea and other growing economies like Indonesia and those countries that will continue to grow and continue to offer opportunity for Canadian businesses.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2013-02-26 19:15 [p.14357]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for his comments and his welcome to the file, although I am sure he recognizes that the file of CNOOC-Nexen was not handled by the Minister of International Trade but was in the hands of the Minister of Industry.
I presume that this evening, as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of International Trade, he is here because his colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, is perhaps not available, and that happens sometimes. I have had that experience myself, as a matter of fact.
I am not surprised that he had quite a bit to say about trade, and that is fine, but I notice he did not really respond to the concerns about the net benefit test, for example, and the government's commitment in repeatedly promising to reform or change the Investment Canada Act, its commitment to revise and clarify it to provide greater transparency to all this.
He talked about a different approach from the one the Liberal government took. Maybe he could tell me in the minute he has to respond to my comments which of the deals that were approved during the time of the Liberal government with Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin had half the public interest or comment as the potash deal or the CNOOC deal, and which of them the Conservative Party or the Reform Party opposed.
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, perhaps my hon. colleague is correct in that at least one of us is responding to the wrong question, but the question that was on the order paper was on the FIPA, not on the CNOOC-Nexen deal. Therefore, I answered part of his question on CNOOC-Nexen just to set the record straight. However, the order paper question was on the FIPA.
The FIPA with China is important for the future of the country. It is tremendously important for our relationship with China, this huge emerging economy that is going to be a marketplace for Canadian exports and for manufactured goods, for raw materials and for resources. This is a tremendous opportunity.
I appreciate that the hon. member is not suggesting we should not trade with China because the New Democrats suggest that very thing. They look at China with its huge population and tremendous demand for resources and some of the largest reserves of foreign currency in the world and say that we should not trade with it, which is absolutely wrong. At least my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party understands that trade is important.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-02-12 19:28 [p.14072]
Mr. Speaker, today I am following up on a question I asked last October. Things were heating up last fall, especially with the Investment Canada Act.
The biggest transaction ever made under this act took place. The Nexen-CNOOC deal was worth a total of $15.1 billion. I raised a number of questions in the House on this and other transactions, such as the Petronas deal.
I requested this adjournment debate because I was struck by the lack of depth and seriousness in the government's response on October 26, 2012.
I would remind the House that the Investment Canada Act was introduced quite a few years ago, and the NDP has called for overhauls on a number of occasions.
In the case of the transactions we were talking about last fall, the process lacked transparency, predictability and consultation of Canadians. That raised a lot of questions.
I asked others for their thoughts so the government could not claim this was my own opinion. Other people raised the fact that the process is not transparent, and they have been concerned about seeing our industrial leaders disappear over the past few years.
We are talking about companies like Dofasco, Stelco, Inco, Falconbridge, Alcan and other Canadian companies; the sale of the assets of the bankrupt Nortel to various non-Canadian buyers; and most recently, a bid for another.
This has led many to express heightened concern that the Investment Canada Act lacks the necessary tools to protect Canada from a hollowing out of its corporate boardrooms amid fears that we will become a branch-plant economy without control of our own resources and economic destiny.
This is from an article in the Canadian Competition Law Review. I have other accounts to share, including this from the School of Public Policy:
Investment Review In Canada — We can do better. More transparency and public disclosure will make foreign investors confident the system is fair...
When will the government review the rules governing the Investment Canada Act, either here in Parliament or in the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, to ensure that there is a net benefit to Canadians?
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, the question is a reasonable one, but of course the hon. member already knows that the Investment Canada Act is in place to make sure dealings with other countries, and investments in particular, do have a net benefit for Canadians. That is why we have an Investment Canada Act.
This is an Investment Canada Act question, but there is an undercurrent in the member's statement about trade protectionism and, quite frankly, some of the bad old days of NDP policy in which it is simply anti-trade on everything. Let us try to move beyond that type of rhetoric for a moment and look at specifics.
We said we were planning to form a government and we were going to look at exporting quality Canadian goods, services and expertise to the new fast-growing markets around the world. It is a key part of our government's plans for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians. I think the hon. member understands that. Our government is delivering on this commitment. We are engaged in the most ambitious pro-trade plan in Canada's history. In order to do that, we have to balance that with the Investment Canada Act so the two can work together for the betterment of all Canadians.
Today in Canada our exporters, and therefore our workers, have more access to markets than they ever had in the history of the country. We are committed to ensuring that the access is guaranteed and continued. Again, we talked about our foreign investment promotion protection agreement with China, the world's second largest economy. This agreement alone will provide stronger protection for Canadians investing in China. It will create jobs and economic growth here in Canada.
This agreement establishes a clear set of rules under which investments are made and under which investment disputes will be resolved, the same way that the Investment Canada Act provides rules for investment in Canada. The treaty is about protecting the interests of Canadians that ultimately will give Canadian investors in China the same types of rules, parameters and privileges that the Chinese investors already have, and have long had, in Canada.
Let me emphasize that this is a bilateral investment agreement that we sign with China. It establishes clear rules for investment. So let us move the NDP members away, because I think they truly are trying to move away from their anti-trade positions of the past, and the Investment Canada Act criticism is just a cover for some of those anti-trade criticisms. It is the party that has opposed our government's efforts to open up new markets for Canadian exporters. New Democrats have opposed trade on countless occasions. They have tried to shut down trade ever since the days of the auto pact, which they now say they support but we know they are on the record as not supporting. They opposed NAFTA, the world's greatest free trade success story. Millions of jobs have been created in Canada because of it. That is not all. They voted against trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, Israel and even Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which are not exactly dictatorships.
The NDP views on trade are not limited to history.
I realize I am running out of time, but we have further trade negotiations coming with Korea, Japan and the European Union. We have more investment coming through the Canada Investment Act, so—
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-02-12 19:36 [p.14073]
Mr. Speaker, let us talk about negotiations. These are not negotiations. The government is rolling out the red carpet and letting itself get walked all over.
When we talk about negotiations, whether free trade negotiations or negotiations with investors interested in our natural resources or our businesses, this means putting certain conditions on the table in order to defend the interests of Canadians. That is the problem I have with this.
Of course, we fully understand that Canada needs foreign investments in order to be able to make economic progress. However, why is this government not putting conditions on the table to ensure, for instance, that head offices remain here for a certain length of time, that environmental laws will be respected and that value added jobs stay in Canada?
That is what it means to negotiate. It is important to do so transparently and honestly.
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I will sum up and maybe make a few small corrections at the beginning. Of course, Canada's environmental regulatory regime is always protected in every agreement we sign, and it often is enhanced. The Investment Canada Act is there to protect Canadian resources and Canadians, quite frankly. It does not allow for environmental degradation. It does not allow any foreign entity, from any country, to somehow go around the rules as they exist in our country. To say otherwise is simply incorrect.
The Conservatives formed government in 2006. We signed free trade agreements with nine countries around the world. We are very much looking out for Canadian interests and Canadian industry. At the end of the day, that means looking out for Canadian jobs and Canadian workers.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-01-30 14:45 [p.13441]
Mr. Speaker, it seems that some Conservative MPs, like many Canadians, are worried about the blank cheque written by the Prime Minister in the Nexen file.
Selling off our natural resources to foreign interests behind closed doors, without consultation and without an explanation of the criteria used to make the decision is not in the best interests of Canadians.
Why did the Minister of Industry refuse to listen to his Conservative colleagues, who were only expressing the concerns of the vast majority of Canadians?
View Christian Paradis Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I will repeat yet again that my colleague knows that the net benefit criteria are clearly laid out in section 20 of the Investment Canada Act. Takeovers by foreign state-owned enterprises are the end of a trend, not the beginning. The rules have been clarified.
The Liberals, who would blindly approve any type of transaction, are at one end of the spectrum; the NDP, who want to block every transaction, are at the other end.
We are taking a balanced and pragmatic approach, and we approve foreign investments that are good for Canada.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2013-01-30 14:47 [p.13441]
Mr. Speaker, that is not balanced at all. CNOOC has no obligation to protect Canadian jobs, and even the Prime Minister admitted that this type of deal is bad for Canada. Canadians deserve better than this.
Now we find out there are three more Conservative MPs raising their concerns. This deal is now undergoing extensive review in the U.S., while in Canada, Conservatives simply rubber-stamp the sellout.
Why are Conservatives dismissing Canadians' concerns, turning a blind eye to concerns in the U.S., and even ignoring the concerns from their own caucus?
View Christian Paradis Profile
CPC (QC)
On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, we brought clarity to the rules. When we talk about foreign takeovers by state-owned enterprises, we talk about the end of a trend, not the beginning of a trend.
We have the extremes of the spectrum. The Liberals would accept each form of signed deal without any scrutiny. At the other end of the spectrum, the other extreme, the NDP members would virtually block everything. They are even against NAFTA. They are anti-trade.
This is not responsible. We are open for foreign investment.
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
NDP (QC)
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2012-12-12 14:26 [p.13207]
Mr. Speaker, on Friday the Prime Minister approved the sale of Nexen to China. On Monday the Conservatives voted unanimously to clarify the Investment Canada Act. The Conservative members must therefore agree with the NDP that greater transparency and more public hearings are needed, as well as a clear definition of what a net benefit to Canada is.
Will the Prime Minister listen to his own MPs and propose substantive amendments to the legislation? This is not about exceptional circumstances or guidelines. We are talking about a piece of legislation, and only Parliament can amend a law.
View Stephen Harper Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, our announcement last Friday included plenty of clarifications for the markets, and the markets responded appropriately.
We also maintained the flexibility, in certain cases, to protect Canadians and the Canadian economy, which is, of course, the responsibility of the Government of Canada.
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
NDP (QC)
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2012-12-12 14:27 [p.13207]
Mr. Speaker, only Parliament can create and repeal legislation.
In the wake of the Nexen debacle, the chief economist of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce said:
It's important that we get our rules up to date and done right...because if we don't we're going to be scaring off some significant potential trade partners and investors
Why is the Prime Minister ignoring—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
NDP (QC)
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2012-12-12 14:28 [p.13207]
Why is the Prime Minister ignoring business leaders? Why is he ignoring his own MPs? Why is he making it up as he goes along? Why does he not respect the will of Parliament and bring the law here to be debated openly and amended to protect Canada and our resources?
View Stephen Harper Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, The Gong Show over there continues.
The Leader of the Opposition presented a motion in which he purported that his party represented the views of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. Now he gets up and pretends to represent the views of the Alberta and Canadian business communities. I can give a list a mile long of people who supported this government's decision.
What they do not support is shutting down the oil sands, as the NDP favours. They do not support a carbon tax. They do support the responsible and balanced approach of this government.
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
NDP (QC)
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2012-12-12 14:29 [p.13207]
Mr. Speaker, we did present a motion supporting the Alberta and Calgary Chamber of Commerce, and Conservatives voted for it, because they know that both the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and the NDP are right on this issue.
Now the Prime Minister admits that a deal like Nexen is not a net benefit for Canada and that foreign state-owned enterprises should not own a controlling stake in major oil sands companies. If that is true, why did he approve Nexen? What were the exceptional circumstances for giving away our raw natural resources to a foreign power?
View Stephen Harper Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, of course, the reason we supported the express position of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce was that it was virtually identical to the position of the Conservative government. It was, of course, not at all the position of the New Democratic Party.
The Leader of the Opposition started off his questioning today by saying that we were somehow blocking necessary foreign investment and now has concluded by saying we should shut it all down. That is why Canadians favour the balanced and sensible economic management of this government.
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
NDP (QC)
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2012-12-12 14:31 [p.13208]
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Speaker, it read:
Amend the law, clarify the net advantage for Canada, the net benefit for Canada, and reciprocity: none of those things have been done.
That is what the Calgary Chamber of Commerce said, and that is what we said.
Fearmongering and buck-passing is what the F-35 file has been about. It has been a debacle since day one. When is the government going to come clean with Canadians and admit that it has misled Canadians from day one on the F-35 file?
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2012-12-12 14:50 [p.13211]
Mr. Speaker, after several months of delays and confusion surrounding the CNOOC takeover of Nexen, we expected the Conservatives to act seriously and responsibly, as other G8 countries have done, and clarify the definition of “net benefit”. Last week, however, instead of establishing clear public policies for Canadians and investors, they only added to the confusion and politicized the rules around foreign investments.
Can the Minister of Industry tell us exactly what he means by “exceptional circumstances” and “net benefit”?
View Christian Paradis Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is funny to see how confused the NDP is about its own position. Clearly, the NDP members are trying to muddle everything in an attempt to camouflage their irresponsible policy. We on this side are trying to have a debate on foreign investment, although we know that the NDP wants to block all foreign investment.
We have taken a clear stand. We have clarified the guidelines to illustrate how we will exercise our discretion in the future. This has been welcomed by the markets and by Canadians. The NDP members are about the only ones who do not seem to get it. However, Canadians can count on a responsible government when it comes to foreign investment.
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
NDP (QC)
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2012-12-12 14:51 [p.13211]
Mr. Speaker, last year, 563 Canadian companies were taken over by foreign investors. The NDP opposed only one takeover.
Of 563 takeovers in Canada last year, the NDP has opposed one: your sellout of Canada's raw natural resources to Nexen.
View Stephen Harper Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the ideological opposition of the NDP to foreign investment is well-known and often expressed here by the critic of that party.
What makes this intervention particularly bizarre is that we know that the NDP, which has said so in election campaigns, is actually against the development of the oil sands entirely. New Democrats get up and masquerade somehow that they understand this industry and are defending the interests of Canadians. People know the only government that will defend the interests of this industry and Canadians is this government.
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
NDP (QC)
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2012-12-12 14:55 [p.13212]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister simply does not understand the difference between the takeover of a Canadian company by a foreign company and the takeover of a Canadian resource by a foreign power.
It is not that CNOOC purchased Nexen. It is that the government of China now owns our national resources. Under the FIPA, they can buy whatever they want in the oil patch.
The Conservatives have sold us out. That is the tragedy of this deal. They have not respected Canada's right to control its own resources.
View Stephen Harper Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the government has been very clear. In the oil sands or in other areas of the Canadian economy, we will not permit foreign governments to own a substantial portion of our resources. We have been crystal clear on that.
The FIPA with China is absolutely clear as well. Every such transaction in the future will be subject to the government's discretion in the Investment Canada Act and we will exercise that discretion to protect Canadians.
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
NDP (QC)
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2012-12-11 14:17 [p.13162]
Mr. Speaker, last night the Conservatives voted unanimously in favour of an NDP motion to clarify the rules around foreign takeovers, so this question is quite simple.
Will the Prime Minister now follow through on that vote, respect the will of the House and propose amendments to the act?
View Stephen Harper Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the government already did just that last Friday in terms of clarification. Markets have reacted very positively to that. I think Canadians understand.
Canadians do not want the position of the former Liberal government, which was to rubber-stamp all foreign investments. They certainly do not want the position of the NDP, which is to be opposed to all such investments. Canadians want a balanced and reasonable approach that protects our country's interest.
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
NDP (QC)
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2012-12-11 14:18 [p.13162]
Mr. Speaker, what have the Conservatives done? Their Minister of Natural Resources admits that the Nexen deal would never go through today as it is contrary to the interests of Canada and does not pass the net benefit test for Canada.
How can the Prime Minister look at us today and say that the government has already clarified things, when his Minister of Industry spent yesterday saying that he himself did not even know what "exceptional circumstances" meant? Let us be clear: if amendments need to be made, this is where they are made. They have to take responsibility for their actions!
View Stephen Harper Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, as I said on Friday, the Nexen transaction is acceptable. However, increased ownership in the oil sands by foreign governments is not acceptable for the government. We have a balanced position. It is not the position of the former Liberal government that approved every investment, nor is it the position of the NDP that opposes every investment; it is a balanced position that protects the interests of the Canadian economy.
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
NDP (QC)
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2012-12-11 14:19 [p.13162]
Mr. Speaker, it was acceptable on Friday, but it was not acceptable on Monday or Tuesday. We must therefore assume that it is only acceptable on Fridays. That must be the definition of "exceptional circumstances": it means on Fridays.
Let us talk about what this House has been asked to do—the government was all for it just yesterday, let us see whether it can remain consistent from Monday to Tuesday—to clarify the definition of net benefit, to include reciprocity, increase transparency, and hold public hearings: yes or no?
View Stephen Harper Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, allow me to explain this once again for the benefit of the NDP leader.
As we said on Friday, we have accepted the Nexen transaction, which does not, in and of itself, raise the spectre of foreign government control of the oil sands. However, we have been very clear that we are concerned about that trend. The trend will not continue and future transactions of that nature are not likely to be approved by this government.
This is the position that markets, Canadian industry and Canadians have widely supported. They support it because they trust the government to take a balanced approach that will both encourage investment and protect Canadians.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2012-12-11 14:26 [p.13163]
Mr. Speaker, CNOOC spilled enormous amounts of oil into the South China Sea and never said anything about this environmental disaster for 30 years.
Despite this rather dismal environmental record, the Minister of Industry seems to believe that we can rely on China to protect Canada's environment.
Can the minister tell us what environmental protection measures are in the agreement signed with CNOOC?
View Christian Paradis Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the NDP is at it again. On one side of the House, the Liberals would like to accept virtually any investments without examining them very closely, whereas the NDP wants to block everything. These two extremes are at EI ends of the spectrum.
Fortunately, Canadians can rely on a responsible government with a reasonable and balanced approach. That is what people have said. Canada is open to investment, but it is not about to sell out to foreign governments. The reaction of the markets and Canadians in general would appear to support us.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2012-12-11 14:28 [p.13163]
Mr. Speaker, if I have properly understood his response, the minister is saying that the information is available but that it is impossible for him to give it to us. He is basically telling us to ask China. That may be his vision of transparent government, but it is not ours.
As we all know, the Conservatives’ record on protecting Canadian jobs when there are foreign takeovers has been disastrous. Just ask the former employees of Stelco.
Could the minister tell us what job protection measures are in the agreement signed with CNOOC?
View Christian Paradis Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, again, my colleague knows full well that when the decision was announced, CNOOC had made significant commitments in terms of governance, trade policy, compliance with the law and long-term economic engagements with respect to economic growth and employment.
That is what foreign investments can give us. The NDP's philosophy is to block any type of investment and to be against any form of free trade. It is an irresponsible and imbalanced approach, like the Liberal approach, which would accept anything without any detailed analysis. Ours is a balanced approach—
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2012-12-11 14:29 [p.13164]
Mr. Speaker, there are still no answers.
The Prime Minister's improvised press conference last Friday demonstrated how the Conservatives are mismanaging foreign investment. The CNOOC takeover approval, coupled with the Canada-China FIPA is a dangerous mixture. CNOOC will have unprecedented rights in Canada and now it is entitled to national treatment, meaning it has carte blanche to expand in Canada, including buying up oil sands leases.
Why is the government trying to cover up the real impact of the Canada-China FIPA? Why is it giving CNOOC special and expanding access to the oil sands?
View Christian Paradis Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, that is not true. Once again, the NDP, with its philosophy about blocking everything, is trying to mix up the people.
Regardless of any bilateral agreements that we have, each investor who intends to invest in Canada must be compliant with the Investment Canada Act. It is as simple as that.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2012-12-11 14:30 [p.13164]
Mr. Speaker, the minister seems to have problems explaining this. Perhaps the Prime Minister could give it another try. He failed yesterday.
The doublespeak does not change the fact that the botched $15 billion Nexen decision is more clear evidence of Conservative mismanagement. In fact, Conservative sources are saying that the government sold out on the Canada-China FIPA. Now it has given a blank cheque to CNOOC. Most Canadians and even many Conservatives do not agree with the government on CNOOC.
Why is the government being so incompetent and so irresponsible?
View Christian Paradis Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, that is not true. On the contrary, investors who intend to invest in this country must comply with the Investment Canada Act. It is as simple as that.
Once again the NDP is trying to mix up everything because it has a blocking everything agenda in terms of investments.
We have a balanced approach that is strong and solid. We have clarified the guidelines but once again the NDP does not seem to understand. Fortunately, however, the markets and Canadians get it.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2012-12-10 12:02 [p.13048]
moved:
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.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2012-12-10 12:03 [p.13048]
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.
View Brian Jean Profile
CPC (AB)
View Brian Jean Profile
2012-12-10 12:13 [p.13050]
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?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2012-12-10 12:15 [p.13050]
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.
View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2012-12-10 12:16 [p.13050]
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.
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