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View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2023-02-06 11:02 [p.11253]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to join in the debate to discuss Bill C-293, an act respecting pandemic prevention and preparedness.
I do not think we would find anyone in the House who would be against being prepared for when the next pandemic comes to our country. However, we would have a different way of going about it.
Looking through the bill brought forward by the member from the government's side, there are a few questions that come to my mind right away.
One of its sections talks about agriculture and industrial agriculture. It states:
(l) after consultation with the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Minister of Industry and provincial governments, provide for measures to:
(i) reduce the risks posed by antimicrobial resistance,
(ii) regulate commercial activities that can contribute to pandemic risk, including industrial animal agriculture,
(iii) promote commercial activities that can help reduce pandemic risk, including the production of alternative proteins, and
(iv) phase out commercial activities that disproportionately contribute to pandemic risk, including activities that involve high-risk species;
I do not see a definition of what those high-risk species. We have a question about that.
The section continues:
(m) include the following information, to be provided by the Minister of the Environment:
after consultation with relevant provincial ministers, a summary of changes in land use in Canada, including in relation to disturbed habitats, that could contribute to pandemic risk, such as deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats and urbanization and that were made, in the case of the first plan, since the last report on changes in land use published under the Federal Sustainable Development Act or, in the case of the updated plans, during the reporting period for the updated plan,
There are issues that will need discussion.
First, I would ask the member who brought the bill forward if he had discussions with the provincial and territorial health ministers already. When I read the bill, there is a lot of encroachment on provincial jurisdiction. I think some of the Bloc members would have concerns about that as well, moving to take over some of the things that should be in the province's jurisdiction.
I have another issue with respect to the agriculture file. I am on the agriculture standing committee and a few things in the bill could limit the use of agricultural land. That concerns me and the people who I represent across western Canada and in Saskatchewan. Our producers do a fantastic job with managing their land use. Part of this preparedness plan has some land use issues in it.
Talking about deforestation, one of the biggest countries that is in competition for agriculture, one that our producers compete against, is Brazil. Brazil is doing a lot of deforestation right now, putting more and more land into agriculture use. If we could use our land and produce more, we would be helping the environment on a larger scale by ensuring that other countries would not have to use deforestation. They would have to put that use of land into agriculture, which would be great for our environment.
More concerns around the pandemic preparedness act are some of the encroachments on our civil liberties. One thing that is mentioned a few times in the bill is the “one health approach”. Like many people, I did not know what one health meant, but I did get a definition from its website. It states:
One Health' is an integrated, unifying approach to balance and optimize the health of people, animals and the environment. It is particularly important to prevent, predict, detect, and respond to global health threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The approach mobilizes multiple sectors, disciplines and communities at varying levels of society to work together. This way, new and better ideas are developed that address root causes and create long-term, sustainable solutions.
One Health involves the public health, veterinary, public health and environmental sectors. The One Health approach is particularly relevant for food and water safety, nutrition, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, such as flu, rabies and Rift Valley fever), pollution management, and combatting antimicrobial resistance (the emergence of microbes that are resistant to antibiotic therapy).
On the surface, it sounds like it is a pretty good approach, but one of the concerns I would have is the loss of our own ability to get ready for the next pandemic. The problem is that the one health initiative to integrate work on human, animal and environmental issues limits our ability to look after our own Canadians citizens. This, from the WHO, is more of an overarching approach to health care and that still should be central to governments in their own countries not to have that loss of control. We need to dive into this and look a lot closer at the one-health approach.
I hear my colleague from Winnipeg North speaking. I hope he gets up on his feet today.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives are concerned with most bills the Liberals bring forward. They take a decent idea in theory, but then they over-complicate it. That is what this legislation would do and that is one of the reasons we will be unable to support it.
Also, when it comes to the Liberals' approach to the pandemic, all we have seen throughout the pandemic is a lot of money being thrown at some of the issues when it comes to programming. We have found out now from PBO that 40% of that money was not even used for pandemic services. That is a big concern for us and we believe it is one of the major factors that has been hitting inflation so hard for Canadians across the country.
The approach the Conservatives are taking is that we would like to see a little more control and a lot more consultation. I asked about the dental program that my friends across the way hail so largely. I asked the Minister of Health if he consulted with the health ministers of the provinces and territories before the Liberals brought forward the dental program. To this date, he has never answered me. I would really like to see some follow up on the consultations the member did on his private member's bill with the other jurisdictions, the municipal and provincial leaders. I would also like to know if they had any input into bill before it was tabled.
I would like to see some follow up on the consultations that were had with the appropriate health ministers and also with the agriculture ministers. The Liberals talk about agriculture, land use within agriculture and animal health, so I also wonder if the member, before putting his private member's bill forward, had discussions with all the agriculture ministers across the country as well since they are talking about changes to land use in agriculture land.
I have not heard whether the member spoke to the Saskatchewan agriculture minister. I wonder if there were any conversations with those ministers. When we talk about consultation, we talk about working together in other governmental jurisdictions, with provincial, territorial and municipal leaders. I believe the government has failed on those consultations many times. I wonder if this is another stack of failed consultations that should have been done before the bill was brought forward.
I look forward to hearing other speeches and whether other members will or will not support the bill. I am happy to stand and lay out some of the reasons why I feel the government does not have the capacity to be prepared for the next pandemic. I hope that we can work together with our provincial and municipal leaders to ensure we have things in place. The Conservatives believe that we have to be ready for the next pandemic, but we do not think this bill would get the job done.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, for most of us, March 12, 2020, marked the official start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a major impact on the life of our communities and the organization of our societies and our work. It had an especially big impact on our social interactions.
Three years later, we have the right, as citizens, to know what really happened so that we can learn from this unprecedented public health crisis, even though we hope such a crisis never happens again.
Bill C-293, an act respecting pandemic prevention and preparedness, seeks to require the Minister of Health to establish an advisory committee to review the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. Obviously, we are not against doing the right thing. If, of course, the intention of the bill is laudable, then, as the Bloc Québécois has said, and as I will say again today, an independent public inquiry is the only acceptable way to judge the government's actions. In order to shed light on the complete chain of events, we need to calmly hold an independent, transparent national inquiry, without partisanship, by opening a constructive dialogue with the various stakeholders.
We have heard the horror stories from the book entitled Le printemps le plus long, or the longest spring, a journalistic account written by Alec Castonguay. I encourage my colleagues to read it, as it is full of examples of the Liberal government's chronic lack of preparation. The threat level moved from high to critical, but the Liberal ministers' typical inaction—even though the alarm had been sounded—had serious and catastrophic repercussions on everything, including our health care systems in Quebec and in all the provinces.
I would like to highlight the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, or GPHIN. Essentially, it is the Public Health Agency of Canada's version of CSIS. It is an invaluable governmental tool, and it is a reference in the prevention field.
Canadian scientists are the go-to source for health alerts for 85 countries. They are able to detect chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear public health threats while constantly scanning public open-source news in real time.
In his investigative work, Alec Castonguay wrote that the GPHIN, a victim of PHAC leadership's changing priorities, was unable to sound the alarm earlier. That is the first thing we need to get to the bottom of, and that is why we need an independent public inquiry.
The Liberals changed the GPHIN's mandate because they wanted to control the message. This is the same government that, in 2015, said it would no longer muzzle scientists. The Liberals are doing the same thing as the previous government. That is unacceptable. Our people deserve so much better than what they have gotten over the last few years.
It was not until July 2020, after journalists once again uncovered the truth, that the then-health minister was forced to launch an internal inquiry to find out why officials did not sound the alarm earlier. Will we ever find out why? Honestly, I doubt it.
There are other examples. In the 1950s, during the Cold War, the Canadian government created the national emergency strategic stockpile. Essentially, its purpose is to store pharmaceuticals and supplies used by social services. It is a stockpile of medical assets, equipment and supplies. This strategic stockpile is intended to be used specifically during a pandemic or health disaster. When the Liberals came to power, they neglected this strategic resource, which is why thousands of items of personal protective equipment, including the well-known N95 masks, had to be destroyed.
If we look back, members will recall that the U.S. President at the time decided to invoke the Defense Production Act to stop the shipment of materials to fight COVID-19 to other countries, including Canada. More than 500,000 N95 masks were stuck in the United States. Thousands of health care workers were put at high risk because of this government, which might lead one to question whether it is running the country in a serious and thoughtful way.
It was Quebec that had to charter the biggest plane in the world, have it travel from Ukraine to China to fill up with protection equipment, pay the people on the tarmac at the Shanghai airport in cash and have the plane land in Mirabel, because the federal government is unable to properly manage its supply of masks. Seriously, it is a nightmare.
A contract to produce ventilators was hastily awarded to Frank Baylis, a former Liberal MP who was a friend of the government. I met him at the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. According to the worst-case estimates, we needed 13,500 ventilators, but 27,148 were ordered. That is twice as many, but, after all, “a friend is a friend”.
There was chaos at the border as well. Valérie Plante, the Montreal mayor, and François Legault, the Quebec premier, had to coordinate to send public health officers from Montreal to the Trudeau airport to enforce quarantines. I saw it with my own two eyes. In the meantime, the Trudeau government, which is often more concerned with its image than with results—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I want to remind the hon. member that we do not use the names of members in the House.
The hon. member for Laurentides‑Labelle.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you for the reminder, Madam Speaker. We will have to make changes in 2023. I will resume my speech.
I have to say that in Laurentides-Labelle my team and I worked tirelessly to bring home our constituents. More than 50 families were stranded abroad and abandoned by the government. It was an urgent situation. I remember that it happened during the school break, a time when thousands of Quebeckers go abroad every year. We wondered if we needed to do something. That is pretty much the only responsibility the government has in health and it was still unable to carry it out. I cannot imagine what would happen if there were national standards, but that is another debate.
There have been more than 6.5 million deaths from COVID-19 around the world. In Canada, 45,000 people died. Those 45,000 families are owed answers. The role of MPs in this place is to monitor government action. We cannot shed light on a critical and tragic period by meeting behind closed doors. What we went through is not insignificant, and we all know it. People have died.
Of course, it was urgent to take action then, but we must investigate what was done so that we can do better. Our style of government is based on ministerial responsibility, and the government is responsible to the House. We, MPs, are the representatives of Canadians in 338 ridings, the people across the country who were strong and worked together during that time.
As a G7 nation, we owe it to our citizens. A national independent public inquiry is the only way forward, and that is why we will vote against the bill.
View Bonita Zarrillo Profile
NDP (BC)
View Bonita Zarrillo Profile
2023-02-06 11:22 [p.11255]
Madam Speaker, the pandemic has been difficult for Canadians, and it has been especially difficult for frontline workers: nurses, physicians, long-term care workers, cleaners, retail staff, transit workers and others. They have been there for us throughout this pandemic, but the government has not been there for them. For three years, they have been on the front lines with no relief in sight.
The government called them heroes, but this accolade has not been backed up with tangible investments in their pay, working conditions or mental health supports. It is absolutely unacceptable that investments in mental health have not come to frontline workers while the Liberal government sits on $4.5 billion of unspent mental health funding. That needs to change.
As the premiers arrive this week for health care negotiations, I think about the workers who are part of the growing care economy. This includes nurses, who are disproportionately women, especially immigrant women. They have been underpaid and undervalued for decades because of gender discrimination.
Now is the time for the federal government to step up and end that discrimination and to do the work required to improve the working conditions of nurses across this country. As Linda Silas of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has long said, it is past time to address, with actions, the dire shortage of nurses in this country.
With that in mind, I highlight for the Liberal government a study that has been going on in the HUMA committee for nearly a year on labour shortages. Its imminent report will hold critical testimony that outlines solutions to improve working conditions for health care workers and to attract and retain more nurses. It was informed by unions across the country that understand first-hand this critical problem. The government must listen to them and act with urgency.
Action is not something we see much of from the Liberal government, and it is one of the shortcomings of Bill C-293. Bill C-293 represents an unacceptable attempt to provide the illusion of action, accountability and oversight with respect to Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will not actually achieve it. What is really needed is what the NDP and the member for Vancouver Kingsway have called for throughout this pandemic: “a root-to-branch, independent, penetrating and comprehensive review of Canada's COVID-19 preparedness and response.”
An advisory committee approach, as proposed in Bill C-293, has not shown great results. The proof is in the fact that even after the SARS advisory committee recommendations, Canada was ill-prepared for COVID-19.
Some good things did come out of the National Advisory Committee on SARS, like the initial emergency stockpile of PPE. However, as mentioned today, it was proven to be not properly maintained, given the millions of N95 masks that had expired and needed to be destroyed when the pandemic began. As COVID-19 hit, workers did not have the PPE supplies they needed in order to stay safe.
A May 2021 report from the AG confirmed that negligent management of Canada's emergency stockpile resulted in shortages of PPE for essential workers. Serious issues with the stockpile had been raised for more than a decade, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, with its specific mandate to plan and coordinate a national response to infectious diseases, was reported to have limited public health and emergency response management expertise in its own agency. How is it that PHAC did not have the required expertise to manage PPE stocks?
This lack of internal expertise played out in other ways too. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, the supply of essential medicines became a critical need, but Canada had walked away from investing in biomanufacturing capacity in this country decades earlier.
Fast-forward to March 2021, when the lack of domestic production capacity of vaccines was a problem for the Canadian government. In response to the insecurity of adequate supply for Canadians, a federal COVID-19 vaccine task force was formed to seek out high-potential Canadian candidates for the manufacturing of vaccines.
Of course, the first thing the Liberals did was outsource because the knowledge of Canadian companies with capabilities did not already exist within Health Canada. Deloitte was contracted, and at least one potential candidate was identified, Biolyse Pharma, which, as per John Fulton's testimony at INDU committee, was “several years into the construction of a biologics manufacturing centre”.
Biolyse could repurpose its facility for vaccine production with an investment from the federal government for as little as $4 million, yet the lack of government expertise, response and political will did not make this happen. I will mention at this point that this is the same for the TRIPS waiver.
I want to take a moment to recognize the hon. member for Oakville, the Minister of National Defence. Her skill and determination in securing life-saving vaccines for Canadians after initial government missteps should never be forgotten.
Going back to PPE, at the beginning of the pandemic, Canadian manufacturers stepped up with production. Companies like Novo Textiles in my riding of Port Moody—Coquitlam invested quickly to retool their facilities and take up the government's request for critical PPE. However, even though Novo Textiles and other members of CAPPEM made investments to ramp up production, the government did not come through with timely certifications or purchase orders to support these heroic initiatives.
To add insult to injury, it took a motion from an opposition party in this House two years into the pandemic to get the federal government to even purchase Canadian PPE for the Hill and federal staff. In this very place, there were no Canadian-made masks until 2022.
It seems that it is not a lack of government-created and government-chosen advisory board members, consultants and plans that is missing. It is the ramping up of internal expertise and the political will to act that is needed. That is why the New Democrats call on the federal government and cabinet to launch an independent public inquiry into Canada's COVID–19 response under the Inquiries Act without delay. As I mentioned earlier, my colleague from Vancouver—Kingsway has been calling for a comprehensive review of Canada's COVID–19 preparedness and response throughout this pandemic. It is the only way to have accountability and adequate preparedness and prevention management going forward.
Canadians want and deserve that too. According to an April 2022 poll from Research Co., 66% of Canadians support holding a public inquiry into the way the COVID–19 pandemic was managed by the federal government.
Last week, the director general of the World Health Organization noted the third anniversary of the declaration of the COVID pandemic and said that it continues to constitute a public health emergency of international concern. This pandemic is not over, and the Liberals can no longer hold off on an independent inquiry into their handling of it. They must act now.
Although we are in a better position now than we were during the peak of the omicron transmission one year ago, this pandemic is not over. We cannot get complacent. Surveillance and genetic sequencing have declined globally, making it more difficult to track known variants and detect new ones.
At the same time, Canadian health systems are on the verge of collapse. Frontline workers have been heroic, yet it has resulted in burnout, fatigue and early retirements. As we work through this reality, more federal investments are needed in health care and nurses. There needs to be respect for women in the care economy, because they have always been the true backbone of the economy.
The current nursing shortage has certainly proved that the Liberals need to take the work of solving the nursing shortage seriously and take action. The Prime Minister must not let down nurses as the premiers arrive this week. The Liberal government has a responsibility to be part of the solution and to act on the health care crisis, which has been exasperated by COVID–19.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak today to a bill put forward by my friend from Beaches—East York. I want to wish him well with his explorations regarding the provincial Liberal leadership here in Ontario. It will be interesting to see how he does with the caucus management side given his independent streak. The good news for him is that the Liberal Party caucus in Ontario is such a small caucus to manage that it should be a bit easier. I do wish him well—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I would remind the member that this is not the business of the House, so let us please stick to the point.
The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
I had a slogan suggestion for his leadership campaign as well. It was “Get high in the polls”, but anyway, I will carry on with my remarks here. I wish my friend well, but I will not be supporting his bill.
This bill is about a review of our pandemic preparedness and comes out of the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, it is sort of cliche to say but it is obvious, is the seminal event in all of our lives that has had so many dramatic consequences. There are the health consequences for so many people, but also the social and cultural consequences of the pandemic that have deeply shaped us and will continue to shape us. Most of those consequences, quite frankly, are negative and require a reaction to the social and cultural damage that has been wrought as a result of the divisions that have been created through this pandemic, some of them maybe just incidental or unintended, but some of them very much intentionally sown.
It is right that we, as politicians, as leaders but also as a society in general, should be evaluating and reviewing the effects of the pandemic and asking what happened here, how we got some things so badly wrong, what were the things that we got right, and how we could approach future pandemics in a better way. In principle, I agree with the idea of having a postpandemic review and having in place provisions to ensure that there is a plan for future pandemics. I do not regard this bill, sadly, as a serious approach to those things.
I will just mention some aspects of this. One is that Liberals love to put forward new advisory councils appointed by government ministers. We saw this with their child care bill, Bill C-35. We are seeing this again with Bill C-293, where they are saying they have this issue they have to think about and therefore they are going to have an advisory council that is going to be responsible for advising the government about it. The minister responsible for that area is going to appoint the advisory council. By the way, the advisory council should be, in certain respects, diverse, reflective of different kinds of backgrounds, experiences and so forth.
However, what guarantees diversity of thought in an advisory mechanism is diversity in the appointment process, that is, bringing in multiple voices in determining who are the right people to sit on this advisory council. If a minister chooses who sits on the advisory council, then obviously they are going to be tempted to appoint people who share their pre-existing philosophy and who are not necessarily going to dig into providing the kind of criticism that is required of the government's approach.
Various members have put forward proposals in terms of the kind of broad-based, genuinely democratic postpandemic review that we would need to have. Many of those conversations are already going on. There should be a mechanism within the government to have this kind of review. I know various provinces are looking at this already. There should be international mechanisms around pandemic review. All these things are important, but those review processes should not be a top-down, controlled whitewash. They should be authentically empowered to hold governments accountable, to ask whether we got some big things wrong in the context of the pandemic, why we got them wrong, and how we could ensure we fix those issues.
In the time I have left, let me highlight some of the things I think we got badly wrong about the pandemic, and some of the ways we need to think about how we go forward.
There were a lot of things that we did not know about COVID-19 when it started. Let us acknowledge that it was probably inevitable that we were going to get some things wrong, but at a basic level we should have had the stockpile of PPE that was required. This was coming out of past pandemics, so that people could eventually come to conclusions such as to what degree certain kinds of masks limit, or not, the spread of the virus. At the very beginning, before we knew anything, it would have been a good kind of default to say, let us make sure that we have protective equipment in place and that we have that stockpile available so that it could be available to people.
It was out of the discussion after the SARS pandemic a couple of decades ago that we created the Public Health Agency, which was supposed to help us be prepared for these things. We were not prepared. We did not have the stockpiles of PPE. In fact, we sent away PPE at a critical juncture early in the pandemic. There was a lack of preparedness, particularly around having the equipment that was required.
Members will recall, and it is important to recall, that the leading public health authorities in this country and in the U.S. said not to use masks and that masks are ineffective or even counterproductive. That was the message at the beginning. Likely, part of the reason that message was pushed, in a context where doctors and nurses were using that equipment but the general public was told not to use these things because they are counterproductive, was that there was a shortage of supply. The government could have been more honest about acknowledging the fact that there was a shortage of supply and that it had failed to plan and prepare for that reality.
This speaks to another point. There is the lack of preparedness in terms of having the PPE available, but also we would have been much better off if governments and public health authorities had been more willing to openly acknowledge the things they did not know. I think early discussions around masking were a good example of the tone we had. People were told that if they were for masking when they were supposed to be against masking, they were anti-science and they were pushing an anti-science message. Later, there was the revision, in terms of the government's messaging.
Our public health authorities and governments could have shown a greater degree of humility right at the beginning of the pandemic and said that there were just things they did not know and that masking was a reasonable precautionary measure. However, it was a very assertive approach that carried itself throughout the pandemic with respect to any diversity of opinion in terms of pandemic strategy. If people were disagreeing with the prevailing consensus, then they were supposedly anti-science. As members have pointed out, the way science progresses is through some degree of open debate and challenging presumptions. The reality is that public health bodies and governments were expressing certainty about things that they were less than certain about.
Let us acknowledge that throughout the pandemic there were various revisions. I recall, for example, that when vaccines first came out the government's message was to take the first available vaccine. Then the government said not to take AstraZeneca and recommended Pfizer or Moderna but not AstraZeneca. At the same time as the government was not recommending AstraZeneca for Canadians, I had constituents who did what the government told them to do with the first shot, and now it was telling them that they were supposed to have a second shot of a different kind, which was apparently totally fine in Canada, whereas other countries were saying that people needed to have two doses of the same kind. I understand that as the science is unfolding there are going to be things we do not know, but if the government had been willing to acknowledge in a more honest, transparent way throughout that process that there were some things we did not know, we would have been much better off.
I want to conclude by saying that I am very concerned about some of the social and cultural impacts of this pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, we were already seeing trends where there was sort of a breaking down of traditional community and a greater political polarization. People were less likely to be involved in neighbourhood and community organizations, community leagues, faith organizations and these kinds of things and were becoming more polarized along political lines. Those existing trends were dramatically accelerated through the pandemic, where the restrictions made it difficult for people to gather together in the kind of traditional community structures that had existed previously, and we have seen a heightened political polarization, with people being divided on the basis of their views on masks and their vaccination status.
As we evaluate what happened in the pandemic, and this is more of a cultural work than a political work, we need to think about how we can bring our communities back together, reconcile people across these kinds of divides and try to rebuild the kinds of communities we had previously, where people put politics aside and were willing to get together and focus on what united them.
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
View Julie Vignola Profile
2023-02-06 11:41 [p.11258]
Madam Speaker, 35 months ago, almost to the day, everything came to a halt in Canada and around the world. It was a stressful time that I sincerely hope we will never experience again. That said, it makes sense to be rational without being alarmist: Epidemics and pandemics are bound to happen more frequently, for a variety of reasons.
Today we are considering Bill C-293, which seeks to help the country prevent and prepare for future pandemics. When I saw it appear on the Order Paper, I must admit that, for a moment, I was dismayed.
I would like to take my colleagues back to 2020 to explain why I was dismayed. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, I reassured myself and my family by saying that epidemiologists had been warning governments everywhere that the next big post-SARS pandemic was bound to be a coronavirus pandemic.
I want to take a small detour for a moment. Epidemiologists suspected a coronavirus pandemic because, thanks to SARS, they realized that we did not know much about these viruses. They knew that we were not necessarily prepared to deal with coronaviruses, since we knew so little about them. This is not a conspiracy, just a simple logical analysis. That is all I am going to say about that.
Given that we had been on alert since the SARS crisis and given that we had a bit of a trial run with H1N1 in 2007-08, I figured that we were ready to handle the pandemic and that Canada and the provinces were properly equipped.
That was not the case, though. Masks were expired. There were no respirators. Investments were made in test cubes that cost $8,000 apiece but never amounted to anything. The government had trouble finding reliable suppliers. They had to play catch-up and on and on. I will not go over everything that happened over the past three years.
To err is human. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes. Planning something and making a mistake is one thing. Not planning, flying blind, awarding contracts that turn out to be overpriced to unknown parties that subcontract the work to a Liberal member who very recently gave up his seat? That is not human error. That is a boondoggle.
Whenever I think about all that, it reminds me of a scene in a movie where a guy is trying to make a hasty exit while getting dressed because his lover's husband has just come home. He would never have found himself in such an awkward position had he had the sense not to pursue another man's wife in the first place.
There is a reason I am reminding my colleagues how surprised I am to see the lack of preparation in Canada and around the world, despite more than 15 years of warnings. This is directly related to Bill C-293, which shows that the government was not adequately prepared. If the mechanisms had already been in place—and they actually were in place, but I will come back to that—would new legislation have been needed? The answer is no. We would have simply needed to adapt existing legislation, policies, regulations and working methods.
Once the shock of all this passes, we still need to read the bill. The preamble sets the stage. As the first paragraph indicates, it costs a lot less to prevent than to cure. I will not dwell on that.
The second paragraph states that “Parliament is committed to making efforts to prevent the risk of and prepare for future pandemics”. Should this not have been started back in 2003 or 2004, by any chance, after SARS? Why did Jean Chrétien, then Paul Martin and then Stephen Harper do nothing when they were in power?
Prevention involves a lot of measures, particularly environmental and health measures. The more money is invested in forms of energy that produce greenhouse gases, the more temperatures rise. This causes icebergs and the permafrost to melt, releasing viruses and bacteria. Work on pandemic prevention should have started a long time ago, but it is never too late to do the right thing.
In health, the individual behind the cuts in transfers to Quebec, the provinces and the territories was Jean Chrétien. If, starting in 2003-04, health transfers had been restored to the levels intended by the Constitution, the pandemic's impact on our health networks would have been far less severe.
Once again, it is never too late to do the right thing. There is a meeting coming up. I hope the outcome will be that the federal government is forced to abide by its own Constitution.
Let us come back to the bill's preamble. The third paragraph sets out a list of viruses and diseases that have affected the world, though they may not necessarily have hit Canada that hard.
The fourth and fifth paragraphs state that a multisectoral and multidisciplinary collaborative approach is central to taking preventive action. I agree with that. With regard to collaboration, we need only think of the constitutional agreements on health transfers. Had those agreements been respected starting in 2003-04, then the federal government would not have had to give Quebec and the provinces and territories so much money during the pandemic to support their respective health care systems, because they would have been resilient enough to deal with the situation. When a person, business, non-profit organization or government has to do without up to 32% of their budget for 30 years, it leaves a mark. It makes it more difficult to act in a time of crisis.
Before my colleagues tell me off by talking about how much money the government gave the provinces and territories during the pandemic, I would like to remind them that it is part of the federal government's constitutional role to provide help when a major crisis occurs. Canada does not have a constitutional agreement with the other countries in the world, but it gives them money, as well as help and services on the ground. We do have constitutional agreements, so it is not fair to tell us off when we are pointing out needs that are there.
To sum up, Canada is responsible for its own lack of pandemic preparedness. The Global Public Health Intelligence Network alert system was deactivated in 2019. The national emergency strategic stockpile was so grossly mismanaged that millions of masks that hospitals desperately needed had to be thrown out because they were expired. I could also cite the chaotic management of the borders and quarantines and our pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, which has been put in jeopardy over the past few decades.
Some may be wondering if I can think of anything good the government has done. Once it had made up for earlier mistakes and its lack of planning and prevention, the situation did end up improving. I commend the unparalleled work done by the then minister of public services and procurement and her team, who worked around the clock.
The way the pandemic was managed needs to be analyzed honestly and calmly. Complete neutrality is absolutely necessary to shed light on what the public and the health care system went through. Let us take this out of the hands of the politicians who were at the centre of the storm.
The bill is certainly interesting. It calls for an advisory committee to study the “before” and “during” and make recommendations, yet the bill already includes a whole list of things that a plan must include. What is the point of recommendations if the plan's contents have already been decided? We need to take the politics out of it.
I applaud the goodwill of my colleague from Beaches—East York. I consider prevention to be a much easier remedy to swallow than treatment. However, in order to ensure that this remedy is non-partisan, it is imperative that it be created outside this political arena. That is why we need an independent public inquiry. Only an independent public inquiry can ensure an unbiased, non-partisan analysis. Complete neutrality is absolutely necessary to shed light on what the public and the health care system went through. Let us take this out of the hands of the politicians who were at the centre of the storm.
I would like to hear what the member for Beaches—East York has to say on his right of reply.
View Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I ask everyone to consider what the role of a member of Parliament is with respect to private members' business. I am not a member of the government. This is a private member's bill. For all of us across party lines who have introduced private members' bills, we know how much work goes in to them, the guidance we receive as a parliamentarians and the convention, as it were, if we respect it.
I heard my colleague for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan say that, in principle, he agrees. I heard the Bloc say that the intent is laudable. I heard NDP colleagues say that they agree with the general purpose of a pandemic prevention and preparedness strategy, but that it needs to be an independent review.
View Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Profile
Lib. (ON)
If one agrees in principle with a bill, and if one takes one's role seriously, not as a cabinet minister who is seized with government legislation but as a member of Parliament considering backbencher and private members' business, one should send to committee the legislation we agree with in principle and we could work out the details.
I am certainly open to amending the legislation based on the details, but surely we should not kill a bill at second reading that has merit in principle. We have just lived through our most serious health crisis ever, and here is a bill to make sure we are more prepared next time.
The conversation for today is that it sounds great, but we are going to kill it right now before we have experts, provincial ministers and PHAC attend committee. We do not actually want to think about this issue again. We just want to rail in a political way about an independent review.
Therefore, let me turn to the need for an independent review. Of course there should be an independent review. The NDP referenced SARS, and good on its members for referencing the independent SARS Commission led by then Justice Campbell. There was also a national advisory committee, which was a separate dual-track process under Health Canada, led by David Naylor. There were recommendations from that national advisory committee that were implemented ultimately by the government. That is why we have the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Forgive me if I am astounded at the lack of history from my colleagues who say we need some independent review, and therefore we need to kill this piece of legislation. No, we need both. In this particular instance, the core accountability to a law like this is not in the review function. That is laughable. The core accountability in this bill, Bill C-293, is parliamentary accountability. The government should be accountable to us as Parliament with respect to its pandemic prevention and preparedness efforts.
The member for Port Moody—Coquitlam said that we need more emphasis on nurses. Guess what. This bill would require that the government table, every three years, to us in Parliament, a pandemic prevention preparedness plan that speaks to supporting local public health and primary care capacity building. Yes, it speaks to nurses. It also speaks to the working conditions of essential workers across all sectors.
The government should be creating these pandemic prevention preparedness strategies and then tabling those strategies to us in Parliament. If we kill this bill, yes, it means we could rail about an independent review. However, it functionally means that it would be this government and future governments that would create those strategies, and they would not be accountable to Parliament for those strategies.
For the same reason, we need climate accountability legislation. It does not mean some independent review of how climate change is occurring. It means that the government is accountable to Parliament for its climate action plan. Similarly, for the accountability mechanism in this bill, the government is accountable to us for its prevention and preparedness strategies.
I heard my colleague from Regina—Lewvan read out the “one health” approach and say that maybe it was a good idea but it sounded too international for him. We literally have a one health approach in Health Canada to prevent antimicrobial resistance.
If people are going to vote against this bill, please, just read it first. Do not read it for the first time in Parliament, while railing against it. We need a pandemic prevention preparedness plan, full stop. We need accountability to Parliament, full stop. All members know I have supported not only Conservative bills but also NDP bills to get to committee. My instinct and my role in this place, and I hope members see their role in the same way, is to get bills that we agree with in principle to committee so we can improve them.
Thanks for the time. I hope we all change our minds.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The question is on the motion.
If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2023-02-06 11:56 [p.11261]
Madam Speaker, we would request a recorded vote, please.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, February 8, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Is there unanimous consent to suspend the sitting until 12:01 p.m. and reconvene at that time?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2023-02-06 12:01 [p.11261]
Madam Speaker, today I rise to speak to Bill C-34, an act to amend the Investment Canada Act.
Bill C-34 implements a set of amendments to improve the national security review process of foreign investments and modernize the Investment Canada Act. Collectively, these amendments represent the most significant legislative update of the ICA since 2009.
These amendments would also ensure that Canada's review process is consistent with those of our allies. This consistency is something that business owners and stakeholders within the riding of Waterloo have also spoken to me about. It is something that is important to them, as Canada is a trading nation and being aligned with our allies is something of importance.
Canada has a long-standing reputation for welcoming foreign investments and a strong framework to promote trade, while advancing Canadian interests. In fact, Canada has one of the earliest and most robust screening processes for foreign investments in the world.
For some history, the Investment Canada Act was enacted 38 years ago in 1985, to encourage investment in Canada that contributes to economic growth and employment opportunities. The act allows the government to review significant foreign investments to ensure that these benefits exist. The act was updated in 2009 to include a framework for a national security review of foreign direct investments. Since then, and for the longest time, the ICA has been one of the only pieces of legislation in the world that provides a reviewing mechanism for the net benefit and national security threats of foreign direct investments.
It is clear that the federal government has long played a leadership role in setting a framework for investment review that attracts needed positive foreign direct investments without compromising on national security. However, the world looks a lot different now than it did in 2009. The global market has rapidly changed along with shifting geopolitical threats. Canada is growing and our interactions with the rest of the world are changing.
The government has seen a rise in state-sponsored threat activities from hostile state and non-state actors. They are attracted by Canada's technologically advanced open economy and world-class research community. This is something we know very well in the riding and region of Waterloo.
The level of sophistication of these threats has also increased. Hostile state and non-state actors are deliberately pursuing strategies to acquire goods, technologies and intellectual property through foreign investments that could damage Canada's economy and undermine national security while possibly controlling the supply chains of critical goods. These concerns are real and are why debating and advancing legislation is necessary.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional vulnerabilities that could lead to opportunistic and potentially harmful investment behaviour by foreign investors. In response, the government has taken swift, concrete action to enhance scrutiny on inbound investments related to public health and critical goods and services. The government has again taken action recently by enhancing scrutiny on investments involved in sensitive goods and technology, such as critical minerals, critical infrastructure and sensitive personal data.
Through these investments, the government is prepared to once again take action to strengthen the national security review, while allowing for positive foreign investments. Canada is a trading nation and we work with international allies. The reality is that economic-based threats to national security are an area of increasing concern, not just for Canada but for our allies as well.
Other jurisdictions internationally are moving in response to the shifting geopolitical threats either by amending or by putting in place new investment screening regimes. Our action is needed to bring Canada into greater alignment with our international partners and allies. For example, I understand that Australia has updated its laws on foreign direct investment. It made a prominent change by introducing authorities to protect national security in January 2021. These include fresh powers for the Australian government to require mandatory notification for transactions involving a national security business before the transactions are closed.
Additionally, the United Kingdom introduced a new stand-alone regime on national security and investment in January 2021. The act creates, for the first time in the U.K., a mandatory obligation to secure clearance for transactions that acquire control of a business in around 17 specified and sensitive sectors before they are completed.
The U.K. has also introduced legislation that allows the government to impose interim orders while the review is being conducted, preventing foreign investors from obtaining confidential information or accessing sensitive sites or assets until the review is complete.
Our cousin to the south, the United States of America, overhauled its foreign direct investment laws in 2018. The amendments added new types of transactions subject to government review and, for the first time ever, mandated notification of transactions involved in critical technologies, certain critical infrastructures or sensitive personal data of American citizens. New regulations fully implementing the act took effect in February 2020.
The proposed amendments in Bill C-34 would address the concerns we have heard from Canadians and which have been echoed by our allies. The proposed amendments in Bill C-34 would address these concerns by introducing new preimplementation filing requirements for specified investments, as well as the power to implement interim conditions during national security review of the investment.
This would provide Canada with the new governance capacity to address the increasingly complex threat landscape. Bill C-34 would also ensure that Canada's foreign direct investments screening regime remains world-leading.
As I have shared, Canada and our allies share similar national and economic security concerns. They are concerned with threat actors acting and operating in multiple jurisdictions to secure a monopoly in critical assets and technology.
It is becoming increasingly important to share information with allies and support national security assessments to prevent these threats from happening.
Previously, the minister had limited capacity to share case-specific information with international allies. Bill C-34 would introduce the authority for more threat information sharing by the minister with international counterparts for national security reviews.
This could help both Canada and our partners defend against an investor who may be active simultaneously in several jurisdictions and be seeking same sensitive technology or critical assets.
For example, the amendment would allow the minister to reach out to a foreign partner and disclose information about the investor to gain additional information and to support Canada's own national security assessment. That said, Canada would not be obligated to share such information where there are confidentiality or other concerns.
There is never a shortage of critics, but this legislation is about making sure that Canada welcomes foreign investment and trade that encourages economic growth, innovation and employment opportunities in Canada for Canadians.
I believe that this approach is pragmatic and principled, and provides a coherent and solid framework to address evolving geopolitical threats while allowing Canada's review regime to be more aligned with our international allies. If there are ways to make this legislation better, I believe we have the opportunity now to work together to make that happen.
We are currently at second reading. This legislation is being debated in the House. To see it go to committee where it can be further scrutinized, where witnesses can attend and appear and amendments can be made, would really allow for this legislation to work for more of the Canadian economy.
With Bill C-34, Canada would continue to encourage positive investments without compromising national security. I think it is really good that this legislation is being debated as a stand-alone piece of legislation, where we actually can get into the details of what would work better, because it is important we have legislation that promotes and supports foreign investment but also makes sure we do not compromise national security.
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Madam Speaker, I know that the hon. member has been a cabinet minister, so I would like to ask her this question in the context of her time in cabinet.
This bill would remove the minister's responsibility to go to cabinet to actually seek agreement to do a national security review and would remove them from having to report back to cabinet on that, unless they deem it to be a national security review.
Do you think that removing cabinet from the process of determining that will help, because in the past, this government, which I think you were in the cabinet for—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I was not anywhere. I thank the member for correcting himself. That is just a reminder.
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Madam Speaker, the government for which the member was in cabinet actually approved two acquisitions. One was Hytera acquiring Norsat, and the other was a Chinese state-owned enterprise acquiring a mining entity that has 65% of Canada's lithium production. The government approved those without a national security review. There is nothing in this bill that would change that, especially if the minister does not have to go to cabinet.
I would like the member's views on that.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2023-02-06 12:12 [p.11263]
Madam Speaker, I think in my comments that I shared today I did state there will never be a shortage of critics, and it is important that we debate and that we make sure this legislation right. This is about the economic and national security of Canada. Foreign investments and trade are necessary for Canada's economic growth and employment opportunities, but need to be done while protecting Canada's national interests. I think that is why looking at this legislation is really about making sure the way we move forward is better for Canadians, for Canada's economy and for ensuring our national security. I think the member knows very well that we do have a process, and that this is the time for providing feedback that is going to improve this legislation. That is why the member was elected. He was not elected only to oppose, but also to debate how we make legislation work better for his constituents, my constituents, our constituents and our country, and this is the time to do it.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I want to commend the speech given by the member opposite in support of Bill C‑34, which gives the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry a little bit more power to review foreign investments. That in itself will be good for national security. However, I do not think we should limit ourselves to national security, but rather, I think other criteria should be added for reviewing an investment.
On the subject of investment review, my colleague across the aisle used to be a cabinet minister in this government, and I remember one particular case at that time, the sale of Rona, that required a government review. Before authorizing the sale, the net benefit had to be reviewed. It was not a matter of national security, but the net benefit still had to be reviewed.
We submitted an access to information request to find out the contents of that mysterious net benefit review. The response that came back was that there was no documentation that corresponded to our request.
I cannot help but wonder whether this government's reviews really are all that rigorous, or are they done based on the weather forecast or a coin toss.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2023-02-06 12:14 [p.11263]
Madam Speaker, I think it is time that we actually debated this bill. We need to make sure that there are solutions and processes in place that will work for more Canadians.
I would say that, yes, we can always look at what has taken place in the past. We can also ask how we go about it to make sure we have systems in place so these concerns the member is raising are addressed and to make sure information is available, and then that we move forward in that way. I think that is why this legislation today is a stand-alone piece of legislation. It is not within a budget bill. It is not within something else. It is one piece of legislation we are debating because of the importance of the topic. I think everything the member has to contribute is important, and I think that once this legislation gets to committee, we can ensure that any of the concerns he is raising are addressed. I am sure the government looks forward to working with him.
View Brian Masse Profile
NDP (ON)
View Brian Masse Profile
2023-02-06 12:15 [p.11263]
Madam Speaker, I want to get a perception of where the Liberals might be open for amendments on this. I remember coming to this place and watching Paul Martin sell off Petro-Canada, an example of foreign investment and not having any types of concerns. In fact, this issue was first raised with China Minmetals. We brought that to committee, because it was actually buying up part of the Canadian oil sands. Subsequently, we watched iconic companies like Nortel disappear. We have watched Future Shop, Zellers and Rona, for example.
I would like to ask the member whether or not the government now has at least a perception or thought that consumer, and also market, issues in Canada are part of national security when we actually block Canadians from having competition and also subsequently lose products because we allow these takeovers to take into the market of consumerism.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2023-02-06 12:16 [p.11263]
Madam Speaker, I would have to say that I am elected to represent the riding of Waterloo, and Waterloo is world-renowned for innovations and technologies. The member mentioned Nortel, and I remember very well the impact that had within my community. It is 2023, and I am still carrying a Blackberry to support my local economy and that brainpower. I would like to assure the member that I am confident that this government is always open to amendments. I think we have demonstrated many times that we can work together in the best interest of Canadians. I would like to encourage him to, as he has done in the past, continue working together to find the best way forward, because when our constituents and our country benefit, we all win.
View Ryan Williams Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ryan Williams Profile
2023-02-06 12:17 [p.11263]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the hon. member for Calgary Shepard.
To understand the significance of our debate on Canada's future prosperity and security, we only needed to look up over the weekend as the Chinese spy balloon floated at 60,000 feet from Alaska over to Canada and into Montana. It was shot down by a few F-22s and plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean by South Carolina, carrying its cameras and equipment. China wants what the West has, and it will go to new heights to get it. It is a sign of the new world.
Just as it is for America and our major trading partners, the future of our country, Canada, is in protecting our sovereignty, our land, farms, natural resources and technological assets in IP while simultaneously attracting foreign investment that benefits Canadians into the country. The Investment Canada Act continues the government's trend of coming late to the party with changes that try to catch Canada up without a serious strategy to advance Canada into the modern era. The result is not just a balloon's bubble bursting over the weekend but the threat of Canada's bubble bursting too if we do not do this the right way.
Conservatives believe that the right way to create paycheques for Canadians is a strategy that encourages made-in-Canada and grown-in-Canada products. This strategy would ensure that our companies, resources and IP stay in Canada, as well as that any investments in Canada benefit Canadians and our people, companies and resources across all our ridings and our regions.
I am sure we are all familiar with the story of The Giving Tree. A boy and a tree were friends, and as he grew up, he would eat the apples and climb on the tree. When he was older, he would ask the tree for its apples to sell for money, and he would take all the fruit away. He would use the branches to build a house and take all the branches away. He would come back later in life to ask for the trunk because the man wanted to build a boat, and the tree gave all that. At the end, the man came back and all that was left was the stump.
Canada has given away large swaths of land and agriculture, fisheries and infrastructure. We have given away a lot of our IP without investing in ourselves. What Canadians are left with is the stump. We have IP leaving the country. Our colleague from Waterloo just spoke about IP. It is missing from this bill. There are alarming statistics about how much of our intellectual property leaves. The University of Waterloo says that 75% of its software engineering grads get pilfered and leave Canada to go to the U.S.
The U.S. has 169 times the IP production of Canada. Canada produces $39 billion of IP, but the U.S. produces $6.6 trillion. We are not developing, protecting or commercializing our IP. We are about to do a study in science and research. We have what is called “the valley of death”. Our intellectual property gets pilfered and comes to belong to someone else, not Canadians.
We have the largest gaps in the world. The OECD has forecasted that Canada will have one of the worst-performing economies in the developed world in the next century. Canada has not been able to keep up with the world when it comes to IP and a knowledge-based economy. Canadian policy is still firmly grounded in industrial-era concepts, and it is failing to develop national strategies for IP and data. China developed 30,000 patents in AI last year alone. Canada has developed fewer than 30,000 patents in all its advancements.
The future of Canada needs to be protected in the airwaves, blockchain, AI, quantum computing, the sky overhead and the Arctic. It needs to be protected in our farms, food-processing plants, genomics, oceans and fisheries, as well as in developing Canadian LNG, which the world wants. Going back to The Giving Tree story, unlike the government, figuratively and literally, the Conservatives would just plant more trees, especially the trees they said they would. The world wants what Canada makes, and we have what the world needs. When we give the world what Canada makes, Canadians make paycheques and Canadians benefit.
This bill has a long way to go. Is it flawed? Yes, it is. Can Conservatives agree to do something with it? Sure we can. Can we create a new pre-closing filing agreement? Sure, that makes sense. Can we have increased penalties for non-compliance? Yes we can, as long as we are calling these companies out. Can we have improved information sharing? Sure we can, as long as we are acting on it. Closed-court proceedings are a red flag. Why do we need to have secretive closed-court proceedings?
One alarming sentence in this bill includes the words secret “evidence”. That is really concerning. New ministerial powers are also a red flag; we have concerns about that. There is no mention of protection for intangible assets, such as intellectual property, which is the backbone of our knowledge-based economy.
This bill does not address or lower the thresholds for national security reviews of state-owned enterprises. This will allow for even further control of our economy by Communist China. This bill does not address dropping the threshold for state-owned or state-controlled enterprises to zero, nor does it address automatic national security reviews of companies based in nations that threaten Canada.
If a company is based in, controlled by or owned by a country that has a heightened need for a national security review, we should review all proposed activity in Canada. We cannot allow control of any critical or strategic sectors to fall into these nations' hands.
The main threat of state-owned industries is from Communist China, which will ruthlessly use its companies to advance its long-term national interests. This was stated at INDU; Professor Balding testified at committee that every year, the Chinese government makes a list of assets for Chinese companies to acquire. If that is not an alarming statement, I am not sure what is.
For example, let us take our critical minerals. China is eating the world's lunch when it comes to critical minerals. China controls 80% of lithium and 66% of cobalt, yet the government is pushing for electric vehicles. It is even mandating that only electric vehicles are to be sold in Canada by 2035. However, it is allowing the sale of critical minerals that are central to those EVs to Chinese state-owned companies.
Last spring, the sale of Neo Lithium was allowed without a security review. This was a Canadian-owned company, and it was sold to China. Many Canadians would be alarmed to know that Canada only has one functioning lithium mine, and it is owned by China. Fossil fuels will be weaponized next along with critical minerals, and members can bet on that.
The member for South Shore—St. Margarets highlighted how state-owned companies are controlling parts of our infrastructure and our critical fisheries industry, including controlling or owning the majority of the Halifax airport.
It does not stop at corporate takeovers. Huawei created 17 research partnerships with Canadian universities. This week it was revealed that taxpayer-funded universities have been partnering with the Chinese National University of Defense Technology for the past five years. That included quantum cryptography, photonics and space science. IP that we were funding with taxpayer dollars went to Chinese military scientists.
Huawei, the Chinese company that makes the tower technology, was banned by U.S. carriers in 2018. It took us until 2022 to follow suit. Why? In 2018, the heads of major U.S. intelligence agencies warned Americans against Huawei. In the U.S., some of the things the FBI uncovered pertained to Chinese-made Huawei equipment atop cellphone towers near U.S. military bases and close to critical infrastructure.
Beijing has been leaning on expatriate Chinese scientists. Lately, we have heard reports of Chinese police stations here in Canada.
This bill would remove oversight and proper security from national security review processes under the Investment Canada Act. We need to look at this open versus closed court process. Why the secrecy? Why do we need to tuck this away? Why can we not have these proceedings in the open?
The bill would give the minister the sole power to create a list of industries which will be subject to automatic national security reviews. We all know what sectors should be protected: health, pharmaceuticals, agrifood and agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, natural resources, IP, innovation, AI and data. The government should commit to protecting those vital sectors.
However, we have no idea what will be on that list with all the power being in the minister's office and having that taken away from cabinet. We saw what happened with Rogers-Shaw and Globalive, and we have certainly seen what has happened with McKinsey.
The future of this country depends on a made-in-Canada strategy that, in some ways, mirrors the Chinese spy balloon that flew over Canada last week, which looked at Canada with bold strategies from a 60,000-foot view.
A Conservative government would focus on growing the economy that provides paycheques to Canadians by focusing on products that are made in Canada and grown in Canada, as well as strategies to ensure our resources, IP, people and talent stay in Canada and are protected.
There is investment and there is theft, and there is no room for theft. We want to encourage investment that brings real benefit to Canadians, including in their paycheques, their savings and their lives. We want to ensure that we have greater prosperity for our region and that this is for Canadians, not just for China.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2023-02-06 12:27 [p.11265]
Madam Speaker, when I look at the legislation, I see the modernization of an act that would provide better transparency.
We have seen a great deal of investment over the years. The Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry talked about some significant investments in just the last number of weeks. The member referred to the battery industry and its potential growth, as well as how Canada is actually leading many other countries. I believe it is somewhere around number two or three in the world.
There are many investors who want to continue to come to Canada. Could the member reflect on the potential of some of those industries and why it is so important that we modernize the legislation to provide more clarity?
View Ryan Williams Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ryan Williams Profile
2023-02-06 12:28 [p.11265]
Madam Speaker, certainly we want Canada to lead the world not only in battery production but also in battery manufacturing. The problem with Canada, over so many years, is that Canada has become a branch-plant factory. We bring multinational corporations in, and this provides jobs. However, we are certainly not helping Canadian companies develop critical minerals and then manufacture those minerals in Canada.
As I mentioned, Canada has one lithium mine, and it is owned by China. Canada is certainly working on having Volkswagen and other great companies come in here to manufacture, but where are the Canadian companies? How are we helping Canadian companies grow?
The result is that we want GDP per capita, which means paycheques for Canadians, to go up. That means growing Canadian companies, investing in Canadian critical minerals and ensuring that Canada benefits, not solely the rest of the world.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague's speech. He had a lot to say about China, and rightly so, in my opinion. I think we should all be concerned about China's actions and its investments, which do not always comply with our laws.
However, not all investment is from China. Many other countries invest. Under the Investment Canada Act, which is what we are debating today, when a major investment is made in Canada, the minister has to review it and determine whether it is of net benefit to Canada. There are both national security and net benefit to Canada considerations.
In 2021-22, over 1,200 notifications of investment were received, which is a lot. Only eight of those—less than 1%—were reviewed. The government has a rose-coloured view of the situation and is not doing its job.
What are my colleague's thoughts on that?
View Ryan Williams Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ryan Williams Profile
2023-02-06 12:30 [p.11266]
Madam Speaker, I agree 100%. In my speech, I mentioned lowering the thresholds, and we should probably be looking at most investments.
Most importantly, Canada needs to be proactive. We need to look at acquiring and attracting investments. We want investment in Canada. My speech focused on wanting Canadians and Canadian companies to benefit, and they do benefit from international investment. They benefit as long as there is investment in Canadian companies that will grow and stay in Canada and we protect the IP that is here.
Certainly, I agree with the member on lowering thresholds. We should look at almost all investments that come to Canada because we should be in control of those investments. If Canada is going to grow and prosper, we are also attracting investment in Canada. This means that we know where the investments need to go. It means making sure that those Canadian companies, that IP, stays in Canada and that Canadian companies are growing here in Canada.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2023-02-06 12:31 [p.11266]
Madam Speaker, listening to the Conservatives talk about jobs, trade and supporting Canada is like looking into the distortions of a funhouse mirror.
I remember when Stephen Harper sold off $15 billion of the oil sands to a Chinese state company and when he signed a secretive free trade agreement with China that allowed Chinese state companies to sue any level of government in Canada. The Conservatives stood up and told us this was a great thing. Can members imagine the Americans ever allowing Chinese state companies to sue their states or their municipalities? However, that is what the Conservatives did.
When they talk about supporting Canadian mining, it was Tony Clement who allowed two of Canada's greatest companies, Inco and Falconbridge, to be taken over by corporate raiders. The Conservatives would not stand up for Canadian jobs then. It is a little rich to hear the Conservatives suddenly saying that they are going to stand up to China and they are going to stand up for jobs when Stephen Harper sold us down the river every step of the way in order to favour his friends in the Chinese state companies.
View Ryan Williams Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ryan Williams Profile
2023-02-06 12:32 [p.11266]
Madam Speaker, Stephen Harper left us with one of the best economies this country has ever had. At the end of the day, I will look to the government's success, if we want to compare across the aisle.
The world has changed; 100% the world has changed. When was the last time we saw a balloon flying over the Earth? We want to—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
We will continue with debate.
The hon. member for Calgary Shepard.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2023-02-06 12:32 [p.11266]
Madam Speaker, I am glad to see you back in the chair as well.
I want to start by thanking my constituents for giving me the great privilege of being able to rise in the House to speak on their behalf to the issues they are concerned with these days. To the constituents back home, the debate today is on Bill C-34, which is amendments to, although the government calls it the modernization of, the Investment Canada Act. The specific name given in the bill is the national security review of investments modernization act. For everything that is wonderful, it seems the government will always call it “modernization”.
Maybe I will take a different tack than other members have taken. I find that for every piece of legislation, whether it is Liberal, Conservative or a private member's bill, it is the moment it is tabled and the events that lead up to it that are important. This particular piece of legislation, let us to be serious, is about the People's Republic of China and state-owned investments being made in Canada, whether those are investments that contravene our national security interests or investments that, in the long term, are not in the interest of the Canadian economy or the Canadian worker.
We have seen the experience of other countries all across the world over the last two decades, since the People's Republic of China was allowed to enter the WTO, and that relationship has changed the world economy. I believe this is a response to the behaviours of the government of Beijing over the last two decades.
Madam Speaker, we were in the United Kingdom, in London recently, and we met with individuals who spoke about the general relationships the United Kingdom has. I had the great honour to return to the Palace of Westminster to hear from Alicia Kearns, chair of the foreign affairs committee in the United Kingdom. There was a long meeting held about the British business relationship with the People's Republic of China.
It was fascinating to hear experts in the field describe not only the pros, the cons, and the pitfalls for British businesses having to share their IP and technology, but also the footprint of their businesses and the exchange of workers that go and back. Some of these workers from the different provinces in China would eventually want to stay in the United Kingdom. They would be applying with and leaving to go to competitors. They talked about the long term, and the three stools of relationships, which are government to government, business to business, and people to people, and how all three are incredibly important.
In describing Canada's relationship, as the Canadian government, businesses in Canada and the people of Canada, I think our relationship with Beijing could be defined as broken at the government level, the business level and the people-to-people level.
I have a Yiddish proverb. Members know I really like them.
[Member spoke in Yiddish]
[English]
The proverb means, “The match was a success; they were broke inside of six months.”
Although the timeline is different in this particular situation, over the last six, seven, eight years, we have seen a broken relationship. There was an attempt by the Liberal government to negotiate a memorandum of understanding for a free trade deal with Beijing. That fell apart completely.
We basically had a freezing of the relationship while Canada dealt with the Meng Wanzhou case in Canada, and the Government of China held two of our citizens for no good cause. It was hostage diplomacy. One thing I heard repeatedly when I was in the United Kingdom, shared to me by both lords and ladies, and by members of their Parliament, was that it is also incumbent upon Beijing to watch the language that they use in international diplomacy.
It is not just incumbent upon us to raise issues of human rights, which are incredibly important to the people of Canada, and people in my riding as well, to that business relationship. There is an effect when politicians raise issues of human rights and that has a direct impact on business interest in China. I know in the case of Alberta, we export a lot of agricultural goods. Chinese companies are amazing purchasers of things such as canola, pork, lentils and other products that western farmers love to produce, and it is a great market for agricultural products. I do not represent an agricultural riding, but it has an impact on my riding as well, because many people who live in my riding have family members who continue to farm on their operations.
The events that have led to this today go beyond just the balloon drama that we have had over the last few days, and I know we all like to make jokes about it. We have all had enough puns.
I think the last review for the Investment Canada Act was around 2009, but let us look at the behaviour of the Government of Beijing. Right now, 47 of the most prominent pro-democracy activists, legislators and people who are interested in protecting the civic institutions of the city of Hong Kong, are on trial. The largest trial of democracy activists in Hong Kong's history is being held right now, and it does not look very positive for them. I hope the trial will go their way, but I am not very confident.
We have an amazing relationship with the people and the Government of Taiwan. The senior Taiwanese opposition leader, the vice-chairman of the Kuomintang, or the KMT, Andrew Hsia, is right now leading a delegation to Beijing's office dealing with Taiwan relations. That is happening as we speak.
In the United Kingdom, there is a semiconductor company called IQE, which is the acronym for its name. It happens to be in Wales, and as the Speaker would know, we were in Cardiff as well. The company is informing the government that, because of the delays in reaching a strategy on semiconductors in the United Kingdom, it might move out.
That is not unheard of. It is something that is happening across all western economies right now as businesses are seeking opportunities from foreign investors to help build a plant, finance their operations and manufacture goods. They are having to review where the funding is coming from and what kinds of strings are attached to it. That is what I see in this piece of legislation.
Although different members have mentioned that there are shortcomings, and the member for South Shore—St. Margarets itemized a list of concerns that Conservatives have with this particular piece of legislation, I think there are opportunities. Reuters very recently noted the fact that this Parliament has now called for the resettlement of Uighurs, particularly those who are facing a genocide in China, perpetrated by the Government of Beijing in the Xinjiang region, which will now be resettling them.
That will also have an impact on the business-to-business relationships, because the government in Beijing considers any mention of it, by any parliament or government, as worthy of retribution. Typically, it is business retribution. I am sure that, if I applied today for a business or tourist visa to go to mainland China, I would very likely have it refused, and I accept that.
Bloomberg recently reported that aluminum products that are entering the United States are being detained at the border because they are suspected of being connected to forced labour in the Xinjiang province.
Just last week, the member for Dufferin—Caledon had an Order Paper question come back to him from the Government of Canada saying that it has seized zero products in Canada related to forced labour in one particular province in the People's Republic of China, while the United States' government has been seizing hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of goods because it has evidence they were produced illegally using forced labour.
Another recent event I will bring up is that President Xi has called for more efforts to accelerate the establishment of a new pattern of development. This has been reported by the Xinhua state news agency. Its focus is on dual circulation, security and self-reliance.
With respect to the piece of legislation we are considering here, and I support sending it to committee to do further reviews, I do not think we should kid ourselves. This is indeed about the People's Republic of China. It is about the Government of Beijing, its behaviour in other countries, and what it might intend to do in Canada or has done in the past.
In the last election, at a minimum, we called for the automatic review of transactions that involved sensitive security sectors, such as defence, artificial intelligence and rare earth minerals. That is what a committee of Parliament should do, review what other sectors or economies should be reviewed. I think that, with respect to all state-owned entities that come from mainland China, we should set the bar at zero. They should automatically be reviewed. I am not worried about state-owned companies from the Republic of France or the Republic of Poland, but I am concerned about the People's Republic of China and its direct control of state-owned companies.
While we have a broken relationship, as I referred to in my Yiddish proverb, there is a relationship that we have brought to this point. That is not entirely the fault of the Canadian government. The Government of Beijing held two of our citizens hostage, and there are consequences to every action. I consider Bill C-34 part of the consequences that must be put on that government for the genocide of the Uighurs; the bad relationship it has developed with our people, our government and our businesses; and lastly, for engaging in hostile diplomacy and holding the two Michaels hostage.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2023-02-06 12:42 [p.11268]
Madam Speaker, I wonder if the member could reflect on the idea and the principle of the importance of having regulations in place to protect the national security of our different industries out there, which is not quite as simple as it was 100 years ago. Today, with technology and everything from microchips to what is grown in the Prairies, there is a need to ensure that we have legislation to provide assurances to investors, and at the same time, protect Canada's economy and well-being.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2023-02-06 12:43 [p.11268]
Madam Speaker, the member talked about how businesses differed 100 years ago. Although he is correct on that point, more broadly we have itemized the list on this legislation. The member for South Shore—St. Margarets itemized a few concerns he has with this particular piece of legislation, including things such as automatic reviews of proposed acquisition of company's assets, plants, mines, land, IP and data for the state-owned company involved. Also, what happens if it purchases it, and then breaks up the company to parcel out different components of it. There needs to be that secondary step being taken.
This legislation is on the right path, but it is the details that really matter when reviewing investments that come from overseas, especially when they are from state-owned companies. It may not be in the interest of Canada for a foreign company to come in and purchase one of ours. Even though it may be good for shareholders, at the end of the day, we agree that the national security interests of Canada should predominate when state-owned companies are involved.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank the Conservative member for his speech evoking his concerns about China. I have to say that I found it very interesting.
I also found his colleagues' speeches interesting. They were somewhat similar. They, too, spoke about China's investments and the fact that we must ensure that we are not indirectly controlled by the Chinese state.
I do have some questions. In his speech and those of his colleagues, I did not hear any mention or concerns about matters of national interest or strategic industries. They did not present a vision for protecting key sectors of the economy, and there was no mention of the need for reviews or monitoring.
It seems to me that China is the Conservatives' only concern. That worries me a little and makes me wonder. Any country in the world could decide to purchase Petro‑Canada, Canadian National or Canadian Pacific. Any country might also decide to buy an oil sands company, which might interest my colleague. If that were to happen, would my colleague have concerns? Does he believe that it is not serious unless it is China? Is that it?
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2023-02-06 12:45 [p.11268]
Madam Speaker, the member for Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères is right in saying that I am concerned about the investments that are being made by big public corporations that are owned and operated by Beijing.
For the past two decades, the People's Republic of China has used businesses that it runs to make investments in other countries, without necessarily caring about the workers in those countries or those countries' future interests.
As I explained in my speech, this bill is a response to Beijing in light of the events that have occurred over the past eight years and the past two decades. I think it is completely acceptable. That is the goal and benefit of the bill.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2023-02-06 12:46 [p.11268]
Madam Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my colleague, but I have deep concerns when I hear Conservatives talking about human rights in China. The Conservatives signed the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, which locked us into an agreement for 31 years, to 2045. In fact, the Hupacasath people in my riding had to go to court to defend their section 35 rights against that very treaty. The Conservatives were not there respecting indigenous rights or protecting their rights, which were under threat when it comes to the environment and the concerns they have around food security and land security, so enough of the past.
With respect to this bill, does my colleague share the concern that this bill would still not provide assurances to indigenous people or consultation to indigenous people? Does he share concerns of how important and significant those are, and how they need to be respected and ensured in this legislation? Enough of just counting on the minister to do the right thing. This needs to be dealt with in the legislation.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2023-02-06 12:48 [p.11269]
Madam Speaker, indigenous people in Canada have the highest law on their side. Section 35 of the Constitution of Canada, duly passed in this country, forms the very foundation of our state. It gives them the rights that were guaranteed to them by the Crown. They do not need this inserted into this law. They have it directly in the Constitution of Canada.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2023-02-06 12:48 [p.11269]
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to talk about investments in Canada and the way this government, from day one, has looked at how we can increase Canada's GDP, support Canada's middle class and build a healthier and stronger economy, whether that is by investing in things such as infrastructure, which is something the former prime minister failed at doing, or by taking a look at how we can increase investments coming into Canada, something we have been very successful at doing in the last number of years.
Of course there are the types of opportunities that have been created by a government that has a very proactive approach at dealing with trade in general. Trade also supports the encouragement of additional foreign investment. This government signed off on more free trade agreements than in the history of any other government in the House of Commons. That, in itself, has played a significant role in how Canada is perceived around the world, whether it is Europe, the States, Mexico, Asia or south Asia, wherever it might be.
We have recognized that one way we can elevate the lifestyle and the way we live in Canada is to look at ways to create the types of middle-class jobs that Canadians want. We have been very aggressive in pursuing that along with a number of other things that I will save for another debate on another day.
However, there is misinformation consistently coming from the Conservative Party. I was listening to a previous speaker who was talking down Canada's battery industry. He was saying that we were supporting China and that we could not achieve the production of electric vehicles in Canada. He was literally, and this is no surprise, talking down what was happening in Canada. The problem is that it was not factually correct, and it seems this is an inherent problem that the Conservatives have. They look for things they can say for the spin even if it is true or not.
The member talked about batteries. Does the member realize that when it comes to the battery supply chain, Canada is second in the world? There are a lot of countries throughout the world and we are number two. We should be talking that up, not talking it down as the Conservative member was doing.
In fact, there is a multi-billion dollar investment coming in just outside of Kingston. I know my colleague from Kingston puts a lot of work into expanding that whole region in many different ways, and no doubt he might have even played a role in this. The billions of dollars that are being invested is going to help secure Canada's second place in the world when it comes to batteries.
It is recognizing foreign investment is not a bad thing. Foreign investment is going to help our economy grow. It is going to assist us in creating the types of jobs that Canadians want not only for today but into the future. It is important that the Government of Canada recognizes this by investing in it, not just acknowledging it. We have consistently done that over the years.
On the battery industry, the Kingston-area plant, the billions of dollars of investment, will create 1,000-plus jobs. A global corporation, Umicore, will be working with the Province of Ontario and the federal government. As a direct result, not only will it secure a long-term commitment in an area that will grow over the next many years but it will also create jobs and a cleaner economy, which will have other types of spinoff benefits. In part, it is possible because we recognize there are those who are abroad who look at Canada as a safe place to invest.
Contrary to what my Conservative friends might try to say, relatively speaking and compared to the world, Canada is doing exceptionally well on the investment front. We need to recognize that Canada remains an open economy and, in fact, is the envy of many countries around the world.
One could stick with the automobile industry and the transitions that are taking place. I believe there is somewhere in the neighbourhood of half a million jobs in that industry. In recent years, we have heard about investments from abroad coming to Canada to build upon those jobs, to support that industry, and understandably so, because of the resources we have to offer, because of an amazing workforce and even because of things such as our universal health care system. Companies take those types of things into consideration.
It is not just the bottom line over the next year or two for those many companies. Investors think long term. A greener economy does matter.
That is why investments in green technology by this government, are at historic levels. Stephen Harper never invested a fraction of the types of monies we are investing in a greener economy. As a result of some of those investments, I suspect we will be seeing more international players looking at Canada as a strong, healthy economy that is worth the billions of dollars of investments we will see over the coming years.
Let us think about those industries. My home province of Manitoba is rich in minerals and resources. We require foreign investment in order to maximize the potential that is there.
We have great investors in Canada and we continue to lead in many areas, especially in the agricultural industries and our manufacturing industries. One of the most high-tech airplanes out there, the ones we just purchased, is the F-35. The wings for those are actually manufactured in the city of Winnipeg.
We have industries that we have seen substantial growth. I am always amazed when I take a drive in rural Manitoba during harvest season and see canola being harvested. That comes from the Prairies. It is technology and science at work. At the end of the day, the world is better off as a direct result of Manitoba producing the type of canola it does today.
There was a time when the Prairies was seen as more of a hinterland. We could draw out resources, be paid for them at a reduced price, I would suggest, and forget about the processing. The Prairies wants, demands and has been seeing a diversification of our economies. Never before have we seen as much economic activity in a wide spectrum of areas.
I often talk about how wonderful the hog plant, HyLife, in Neepawa, Manitoba has been to the community because of everything that goes into that plant. Hundreds of employees work there. The life that it has brought to the community of Neepawa is in good part because of that plant and the hundreds of jobs it has generated. Everything that comes out of that plant is exported to Asia.
Investments within Canada as well as external investments are coming into the province of Manitoba, just as I suspect they are into all regions of the country.
From my perspective, the modernization of the Investment Canada Act provides assurances, transparency and a higher sense of accountability. It ensures that the minister is able to protect certain industries, because there is a great deal of concern out there. Two examples come to mind. One is the war taking place in Ukraine and Russia. We have seen the impact that Russia has had on the marketplace, particularly in Europe. It reinforces what the Prime Minister has indicated with respect to looking at our allied countries, countries that share the same values we have, and how we can invest more in that relationship. It becomes more of a two-way street in that sense. Not all foreign investment is good. This is why we need to have this act.
When people think about security and safety, they do not necessarily think of the economy. They might think about the Canadian Forces or our military hardware when it comes to the security of the nation, but what is equally important is the security of our economy. In essence, the Investment Canada Act is there for that. There are players in the world who invest for alternative motives. It is not just about money. We need to give additional attention to some of those players. We often hear about relationships between the different nations. I like to think that if we have learned something from some of the things we have experienced in the past, we could greatly benefit by it.
When I think of our market and our economy, most people want an open market and a free economy where businesses can thrive. Consumers would benefit and we would have a growing and healthy middle class. However, there are some things that really frustrate us as consumers, such as the lack of competition in certain areas of the economy. That has a significant impact.
I think the member for Windsor West from the NDP made reference to Target stores. I remember when Target, a big American company, wanted to invest in Canada. It was going to replace Zellers stores and close some Zellers stores in Winnipeg. It had the big store opening on Saint James Street. Then, after all was said and done, Target pulled out and there was a sense of disappointment. At one point there was a sense of excitement that we were getting this big Target store, and it was fairly well known for its pricing. Consumers felt it would be a good thing, but then Zellers disappeared and Target disappeared. That creates suspicion in the minds of many.
We have, as has been pointed out about grocery stores, some large corporate giants out there, and people are concerned about the price they pay for their food. It is not like there is an option. That is why it is reassuring to Canadians when we have a Minister of Industry who has been very proactive in communicating with these grocery giants and ensuring there is competition.
It is one of the reasons that I and many others will often go to some of the smaller family-owned grocery stores. When Sobeys bought Safeway out west, there was a great deal of concern. In my riding, we had a Sobeys on one side of Keewatin Street and a Safeway on the other side. One store ended up closing, and it is still closed today. Nothing has filled it on the east side of Keewatin Street, but the Safeway has kept that particular name because it had a history in the Tyndall Park area. If we check with the people, we will hear them provide comment that the lack of competition between those two stores might have caused prices to go up.
We could talk about gas prices. We could talk about cellphone prices too. One of the disadvantages that Canada has is the fact that we do not have the same size consumer economy as others do since we are a population of 38 million people. The U.S. has 10 times that and Europe has a multitude of different countries, so as elected officials, we need to be a little more aware of the importance of healthy competition. That is why we talk about what the Minister of Industry has been able to accomplish, whether it is attracting foreign investment or keeping companies that are here more accountable in terms of the pricing put out there. We want Canadians to understand and know that we are here to protect their interests.
That is what this legislation is all about. We recognize the value of foreign investment, and by making it more efficient by allowing ministers to extend deadlines, for example, we are in a better position to protect our marketplace security and work with countries such as the Five Eyes nations.
I will leave it at that, and maybe there will be a question or two.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2023-02-06 13:08 [p.11270]
Madam Speaker, I will let the member opposite continue on this line with my question, which has to do with our Five Eyes partners. They clearly said they did not want Huawei to have any access to the 5G networks in Canada, but it took the government two years before it came to that decision. Meanwhile, Bell and Telus implemented Huawei's 4G across the nation.
What mechanisms are present in the bill that the member believes will help us stand better with our Five Eyes partners?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2023-02-06 13:09 [p.11271]
Madam Speaker, the most important thing within this legislation, from my perspective, is that it would enable more discretion for ministers, whomever they might be. I see that as a positive thing.
The Conservatives seem to believe there should be a listing of industries to which this would be applied. I tend to disagree. I believe that is one of the reasons we have opposition parties. Opposition parties are well positioned to be critical of government if they have a different opinion on investments they believe should have been better tracked, for example. That is why I encourage members to take into consideration that the principles of this legislation and its modernization will ultimately provide a higher sense of national security for Canadians.
With regard to the specific question, I really cannot provide more of a detailed answer than the minister has provided in the past.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, we are used to hearing from the member opposite, but it is nice to know that he is capable of talking about different subjects. We see more and more of that every day.
I listened to his speech and I felt like it was missing a vital component, something that seems to be missing from most of the speeches given by most of the parties here in the House. I am talking about national considerations and the importance that we should be placing on our flagship companies, our local businesses. A company that is established in Quebec or even elsewhere in Canada comes with a head office, decision-makers, and specialized and well-paying jobs. A Canadian- or Quebec-owned business also comes with shareholders who benefit from it. That way, the profits stay here and the strategic elements are there. It is also important that a certain amount of our locally owned companies remain here.
I would like to know whether the member opposite thinks that head offices and locally owned businesses are important. I would like to hear his thoughts on that, because that aspect seemed to be missing from his speech.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2023-02-06 13:11 [p.11271]
Madam Speaker, the member brings up an excellent point, and I will use the specific example of New Flyer Industries, which is now one of the world's best bus manufacturers existing today. I know that Quebec also manufactures buses. New Flyer Industries likely would not be in Manitoba today if not for government getting directly involved.
I think of Dominion Tanners, which has a branch that supplies certain materials to the head office. When that head office goes bankrupt or closes, the subsidiary ends up shutting down. There may be more opportunities to support those types of subsidiaries and companies that are in fact ultimately profitable, but we lose those jobs in part because of what is taking place in another region, whether in Canada or, often, outside of Canada, and because of a decision that has been made that might be evaluated on a different metric than what we would like to see.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his speech. I have certainly been in the House to hear a lot of them, and I appreciate the effort he takes to make sure that his voice is heard. As always, I encourage him to allow some of the backbenchers to also have a voice.
Getting to the point, one of the challenges, which the member mentioned in his speech, is that Canadians are feeling less and less trustful. They are very concerned about how assets are moved in this country and how foreign entities are participating.
One thing I have a concern with is a loophole around postclosure notification requirements. We know that things go through a process, but if something happens afterwards, a certain amount of time is given that often allows foreign investors to move sensitive assets out of Canadian businesses before the federal government even becomes aware of them. That really concerns me and the NDP because we want to make sure that the process is clean. If we are going to have foreign investment in this country, there should be accountability at a much higher level, because that is what Canadians need to hear.
I am wondering if the member could speak to that loophole and if there is going to be any effort to support amendments that will fix it.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2023-02-06 13:14 [p.11271]
Madam Speaker, I have had the opportunity to get to know the minister over the last number of years, and I know the NDP's critic referred to the NDP having a series of amendments. My suggestion to the member and the NDP would be that they sit down with the minister or the minister's staff and share with them what their concerns are to see if in fact some of those perceived or real loopholes can be addressed.
At the end of the day, I like to think that the people coming from abroad to invest in Canada are being watched over, at least in good part, so that Canada is a net beneficiary of that investment.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2023-02-06 13:14 [p.11271]
Madam Speaker, this is important legislation. It gives us a chance to talk about the way in which so-called investors in Canada have an impact on our economy.
We saw foreign direct investment take off back in 2006, believe it or not. It was 2006 when Stephen Harper broke his promise that there would never be taxes on investor trusts. That ended up having the effect of causing a lot of foreign takeovers of Canadian companies. Then investment trusts got taxed and a lot of Canadian investors lost out. A lot of them still remember that change in election promise.
I mention that because when we speak of investors, quite often they are mercenary. They are coming in and buying up Canadian companies when they get the chance, and what they increasingly bring to Canada are security threats. That is in relation to the takeover of many Canadian enterprises by companies controlled by the People's Republic of China. They are protected by another move in the Harper era: the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with the People's Republic of China. It did not expand to trade for Canada into China. It just protected Chinese investors in Canada from regulations they would not like.
All of that is to say that this is important legislation, but does the parliamentary secretary not think it is time to think about more investment by Canadians in Canadian enterprises and not being so very welcoming to foreign investors?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2023-02-06 13:16 [p.11272]
Madam Speaker, Canada has billions of dollars' worth of foreign investment coming into the country, and the member would know full well that billions of dollars leave Canada to be invested around the world. I would like to think that given the billions of dollars leaving the country, maybe we could revisit the issue and look at investing here in Canada.
At the end of the day, I truly believe that we need to modernize legislation, which the minister proposed in Bill C-34. It should allow for not only more investment but a healthier system. A healthier system that provides more stability not only would attract more foreign investment, but would, I would like to think, keep a lot of the dollars already in Canada invested in Canada.
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, I noted that during his speech, the member talked about the security of our economy. Right now, under the legislation, foreign investment review is triggered only when the assets of a Canadian corporation are at least $454 million.
I wonder if the member would agree that, given the nature of security threats and foreign acquisitions by hostile governments, it would be better to have that threshold at zero dollars.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2023-02-06 13:18 [p.11272]
Madam Speaker, again, if there are ideas from members of the opposition, or even from government members, to improve the legislation, I would really encourage them not to sit on them but let the ministry know about it. This always helps us out, even prior to going to committee. Most importantly, hopefully the legislation will pass relatively quickly so that we can at least get it into law before the end of the year.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2023-02-06 13:18 [p.11272]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis‑Saint‑Laurent.
I rise today to address Bill C-34, an act to amend the Investment Canada Act. Bill C-34 is an attempt to update and strengthen the Investment Canada Act through seven significant amendments. Mainly, these changes to the act aim to protect Canada's national security with stricter regulations and higher penalties.
The main tenets of the bill attempt to introduce a pre-implementation filing requirement for specified investments. It would streamline the minister's ability to investigate national security reviews of investments and strengthen penalties for offenders. It would create regulatory power to generate a list of national security industries where automatic proposed acquisitions would be reviewed for national security harm, and it would provide ministerial authority to impose interim conditions and accept mitigation undertakings.
The bill would remove the Governor in Council, replacing it with the minister in making an order for further national security review, and involve the Governor in Council in the results of the national security review only if the investment is found, after investigation, to be injurious to national security. It supposedly would improve coordination with international partners and strengthen rules for the protection of information in judicial review proceedings.
In essence, this bill would give the Minister of Industry more time and authority to assess foreign transactions that might compromise national security, by removing the Governor in Council from the initial process while also making more severe the penalties for violating the Investment Canada Act. This, on its face, is beneficial and necessary, but there are several gaps that need to be addressed, which I will outline later.
Threats to our national security and sovereignty come in a dizzying array with regard to scope and creativity. Today, I want to focus on threats to our national security via our economy by investment from actors with malicious intent. There is just cause to update and strengthen the Investment Canada Act to prevent such threats or, at the very least, reduce the number of threatening actions made to Canada's economy and national security via investment. There exists a scary number of examples wherein Canada's national security was jeopardized due to a lack of due diligence on behalf of the industry minister with regard to foreign direct investment.
The industry minister's 2021 mandate letter directed the minister to do the following:
Contribute to broader efforts to promote economic security and combat foreign interference by reviewing and modernizing the Investment Canada Act to strengthen the national security review process and better identify and mitigate...security threats from foreign investment.
The keywords here are “better identify and mitigate...security threats”. There is ample evidence to show why the Prime Minister so directed the industry minister, as the Liberal record on allowing bad actors to invest in Canadian companies, and therefore our intellectual property and data, is rather horrifying.
In 2017, the Minister of Industry failed to request a full national security review of the acquisition of a B.C.-based telecommunications company, Norsat International, and its subsidiary, Sinclair Technologies, by China-based Hytera Communications, which is partially owned by the People's Republic of China. The Chinese government owns about 10% of Hytera Communications through an investment fund.
The United States, our largest and most important trading partner, blacklisted Hytera in 2021. Its Federal Communications Commission stated that the company “pose[s] an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of United States persons”. Sales and import of Hytera equipment are banned in the U.S. as a result, and our industry minister let this company, with its ties to the Chinese ruling Communist Party, buy a Canadian company.
It gets better, or should I say, it gets worse. Hytera Communications is also facing 21 charges in an American espionage case. The United States Department of Justice is accusing the firm of conspiring to steal trade secrets from Motorola. We know this tactic has been used before by the Chinese government, and yet our industry minister okayed a sale of a Canadian company right to it.
In 2019, Manitoba-based Tantalum Mining Corp. of Canada Limited, also known as Tanco, was purchased by the Chinese company Sinomine Resources. The purchase was approved by the Liberals with no national security review. The mine produces lithium and more than 65% of the world's cesium, which is used in drilling applications, as well as Canada's largest deposit of tantalum, which is used in electronics.
Sinomine was recently ordered by the government, in November, to divest itself of its investment in Power Metals Corp, a different mining exploration firm in Vancouver, but the government was apparently totally fine with its continued ownership of the Tanco mine and its critical minerals operations, as its divestment order said nothing about it.
In 2020, our Department of Global Affairs awarded a $6.8-million contract to state-owned, China-based Nuctech, which was founded by the son of the former Chinese Communist Party secretary general. That is $6.8 million of Canadian taxpayer money basically going directly into the Chinese Communist Party's pockets, along with precious data.
As John Ivison wrote for the National Post in 2020, “Nuctech is known as the 'Huawei of airport security'”. The contract was to supply security equipment for 170 Canadian embassies, consulates and high commissions around the globe. A security industry source told Ivison for the story that he was concerned there were now “significant pieces of Chinese technology sitting in every embassy” and that the contract included delivery, installation, operator training and software.
For the same article, Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador in Beijing, explained that the Chinese business strategy overseas is to win market share and, once dominant, dictate prices, illustrating that not only are there security concerns with these problematic investments, but there are also long-term economic implications. We cannot continue to let China and other actors with malicious intent interfere with Canada's economy and national security, even if they do offer the lowest prices for the service.
That said, the pattern of allowing risky investments without full security reviews continues. It was apparently briefly acknowledged in 2021, with the industry minister updating and enhancing guidelines for national security reviews of transactions involving critical minerals and state-owned enterprises in March of that year. However, 2022 saw a number of lapses, even with this enhanced protocol.
In January 2022, the minister failed to follow his own updated guidelines when he fast-tracked the takeover of the Canadian lithium company Neo Lithium Corp. by Chinese state-owned Zijin Mining, again, without a national security review.
Wesley Wark, a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in international affairs and intelligence gathering, told the industry and technology committee, while studying the takeover after the fact, that it was a mistake. The value of the transaction was close to a billion dollars.
Then, in November 2022, the minister ordered three Chinese companies to divest their ownership of three critical minerals firms, but Neo Lithium was not included.
In December 2022, possibly the worst offence, the RCMP awarded a contract to supply sensitive hardware for its communications systems to Sinclair Technologies, which, members will recall, was sold to Hytera Communications, the Chinese company partially owned by the Communist Party and blacklisted in the U.S.
It was also revealed in December of that year that the Canada Border Services Agency has been using communications equipment and technology from Hytera. A CBC story says that Public Services and Procurement Canada did not take into consideration the security concerns about Sinclair and its ownership during the bidding process. The difference between that and Quebec-based Comprod's offer was $60,000. The Liberals love to hand out money left and right, but they could not spend $60,000 to keep our security hardware domestically sourced and provide Canadians with jobs while we are at it.
As we can see, the bill is sorely needed, but there are a few areas for improvement within the bill itself.
I do not like the part that gets rid of the Governor in Council approval and gives power just to the minister. I think that should be fixed. The legislation should also consider updating the act's definition of a state-owned enterprise, which is now too vague. There is no provision to block any subsequent takeover by a state-owned enterprise of a previous Investment Canada Act-approved acquisition.
It is my hope that the government learns from its mistakes, listens to the opposition parties and experts, and gets this legislation right. We cannot keep selling off parts of our economy, national security and precious resources to bad actors.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2023-02-06 13:28 [p.11274]
Madam Speaker, I loved the last line about learning from mistakes. This is the same Conservative Party that, when there was warning after warning about Chinese state companies stealing IP from Canadian companies, Stephen Harper was selling off key assets, like $15 billion for Nexen to a state-owned company.
When HD Mining in British Columbia, a Chinese company, announced it could not hire Canadian workers, Stephen Harper gave it 14 years to bring in Chinese workers to exploit Canadian assets. Stephen Harper thought that was so good that he signed a secret free trade deal that allowed Chinese state companies to sue any level of government. Imagine the United States letting Montana or Miami be sued.
Stephen Harper was more than willing to sell us down the river, sell out our assets and sell out our resources, while we warned them about the theft of IP and resources by Chinese state companies.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2023-02-06 13:29 [p.11274]
Madam Speaker, I see the outrage in the member opposite, but perhaps he could apply that to the party that he is supporting, the party that sold out health care in B.C. to Anbang. Does the member remember that? It was a total disaster. We had to come in and rescue them in the pandemic.
Huawei is another example, where the government sat on its decision for two years and let Huawei build all the 4G networks under Bell and Telus in this country.
Why does the member not take his outrage and apply it to the government that he is propping up?
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2023-02-06 13:30 [p.11274]
Madam Speaker, the member has identified some areas that she suddenly feels need to be addressed. I am curious if she could tell the House how many times, because we are in fact only amending a piece of legislation here, she has raised her concerns with the minister before today, specifically about how the legislation should be changed.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2023-02-06 13:30 [p.11274]
Madam Speaker, that is a great question, actually. Members may recall I was on my feet in this House criticizing Navdeep Bains when he was the industry minister who did Anbang. I have been on my feet in this House criticizing every time one of these things has come along and calling it out, because of the danger and the breach of our privacy and the fact that they are allowing the Chinese Communist government to put security systems, information systems and software into Parliament, embassies, etc.
It is outrageous. It needs to get fixed. I have been calling for this now for eight long years.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I share the concerns of my Conservative colleague about Chinese investments, which are not always wise, and about the lax approach and lack of verification by this government.
I want to take this opportunity to mention that a Chinese spy was recently arrested at Hydro‑Québec facilities. We often hear the Liberals brag about the fact that they are working hard for the electrification of transportation. We are not seeing many results, but they love to talk about it. In fact, this Chinese expert was in the offices of IREQ, Hydro-Québec’s research institute, which is in my riding. He took photos and gathered information on our research into the electrification of transportation to send to the Chinese government. It takes some nerve.
All of that leads me to my question about Bill C‑34. At the time, in 2015, when I was elected for the first time, foreign investment notifications would have been sent to the government. According to government data, 10% of foreign investments were analyzed by the government in 2015.
The most recent data indicates that only 1% of investments are being analyzed. What does my colleague think of that?
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2023-02-06 13:32 [p.11274]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Bloc for the question.
There are indeed many examples of security problems where we can see that organizations have harmed Canada.
I think that the government is not paying close attention to agreements. We are going to fix that through Bill C‑34, however.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2023-02-06 13:33 [p.11274]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate, and especially pleased to speak after my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton.
We are here to discuss a bill that relates to national security, the trade relations Canada must engage in with other countries and the possibility of investors from other countries buying Canadian companies.
Let me make one thing clear right off the bat. China is going to come up a lot during this debate and in my speech. However, there is a big difference between the people who live in China, Canadians of Chinese origin and China's Communist government. These are completely different things, and anything negative we say about China's outsized ambitions relates to Communist China, not to individuals and certainly not to Canadians of Chinese origin.
This is about international trade. We welcome everyone who wants to invest here because we also want Canadians to be welcome in other countries. We are a free trade nation. Canada has more free trade agreements than any other country—over 40 in total.
Following an election in 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was mandated by the people to sign the free trade agreement with the United States. The famous agreement between “the three amigos”, the United States, Canada and Mexico, followed a few years later.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my colleague from Abbotsford, who has been the architect of literally dozens and dozens of our free trade agreements with other countries. The member for Abbotsford was the minister of international trade for over six years. He was the longest-serving minister of international trade in the history of this country, and thank goodness for that, because we have great relationships with Asia, Europe and the Americas. That is the legacy of the member for Abbotsford.
As members will recall, when this government was elected in 2015, it shelved a few agreements, only to eventually renew them on the cheap, which is too bad. Still, Canada today is the land of free trade.
No one can claim to support free trade and say that Canada should go abroad but that our doors here in Canada should be closed. The doors must be closed in an intelligent way. That is why we have a number of concerns about this bill, which is essentially about tightening up security measures when it comes to national security reviews of foreign investments.
This bill basically provides for seven important changes to improve the national security review process for foreign investments. It also seeks to give the minister a lot more authority in certain circumstances.
The Conservatives do not disagree with the principle. However, as with anything, the devil is in the details, and that is where we need to do our job as parliamentarians. In principle, we agree that we need to revise the national security review process for foreign investments, but Bill C‑34 is seriously flawed, and we are going to talk about those flaws.
First, let us remember that the government's track record on foreign investments from China over the past seven or eight years is poor and fails to live up to expectations. In the early 21st century, China was not under the harmful influence and control of the current Chinese government. However, the situation has deteriorated since then and we are now paying the price.
In 2017, the industry minister did not ask for a full national security review prior to the acquisition of Norsat International, a communications company based in British Columbia, and its subsidiary, Sinclair Technologies, by Hytera Communications, a Chinese company belonging in part to the People's Republic of China.
In 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs awarded a contract to a Chinese firm, Nuctech, which was founded by the son of a former general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, to supply X-ray equipment to 170 Canadian embassies. In a national security review, that checks off all the boxes. We are talking about X-ray equipment in our embassies and a contract was given to a company founded by the son of a former general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
In January 2022, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry did not follow his own guidelines when he expedited the purchase of the Canadian company Neo Lithium Corporation by the Chinese state-owned company Zijin Mining without a national security review.
Much of the automotive industry is going electric. Private companies around the world, manufacturers, are investing $500 billion in this shift. Electric cars require lithium. Canada has lithium. Now, however, the government has decided to let a Chinese company take over this natural resource that is essential for economic development in the 21st century. That is a huge loss.
I want to talk about another company that was mentioned earlier: Hytera Communications. In December 2022, the RCMP awarded a sensitive contract for communications systems hardware to Sinclair Technologies, which used to be a Canadian company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Norsat International. Norsat International was founded and based in Richmond but was acquired by Hytera Communications.
That is where things stand today after all these years of Liberal governance. Whether it is lithium, X-ray machines in our embassies, or security equipment for the RCMP, critical items are being funded by investors from China, a Communist country, need I remind the House.
There is a big difference between Communist China, Chinese people and Chinese Canadians. Shame on anyone who makes a connection between those elements; there is none. It is the Chinese government that is to blame.
Let us talk about Hytera Communications, which belongs to the People's Republic of China and is a major supplier to China's national security department. In December 2022, we learned that the Canada Border Services Agency used Hytera's communications technology equipment in 2017. Let us remember that Hytera is facing 21 espionage-related charges in the United States and was banned by President Biden himself. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
Pressure has mounted in recent years as companies tied to the Chinese communist regime have strengthened their positions here in Canada. The government has been slow to act on that, which is why it introduced Bill C‑34.
Essentially, Bill C‑34 gives the minister more powers, but the minister needs more still. Here are some ideas we are going to put forward during the committee's clause-by-clause study to improve this bill. First, all acquisitions subject to a net benefit review or a national security review must get cabinet approval regardless of the outcome of the investigation.
The bill also does not provide for the preparation of a list of autocratic countries that are banned from having Canadian companies or assets. I am talking here about China and Russia. The bill also does not include a net benefit test, or a measure of attempts to take control of key industries through acquisitions under the investment thresholds. Finally, the bill does not make any changes to the legal definition of a state-owned enterprise, which some consider to be too vague.
Let me be clear. We are in favour of free trade. Free trade means trade with other countries. That means that we can invest in other countries and other countries can invest here. Let me be clear, when it comes to China and the Communist Party that is currently in power there, we need to be incredibly vigilant. We need to recognize that they are not our natural friends.
We therefore need to enhance security measures to prevent mistakes, such as a lithium company ending up in the hands of the Chinese government, Chinese-controlled X-ray equipment in our embassies, and RCMP communications ending up in the hands of the Chinese government, from ever happening again.
Limits must be set, and that is what we want to do by improving this bill.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Louis‑Saint‑Laurent on his excellent speech. It was quite interesting and very intellectually stimulating. It is a pleasure to listen to that kind of speech.
I would like to go back to the issue of the net benefit analysis. I think my colleague mentioned this in his speech. In the Investment Canada Act, there is a review threshold that seems to go up almost like clockwork each year, sometimes even faster than inflation.
For example, in 2015, the review threshold was $369 million. If we look at this year's figures, we see that the review threshold for countries with which we do not have an economic agreement, to use the lowest figure, hit $1.3 billion. This means that the government does not even look at the file when a company is purchased for less than $1.3 billion. These transactions are just rubber-stamped.
Let me name a few companies that are in this situation. Héroux-Devtek has a market value of $560 million. Lassonde Industries has a market value of $800 million, which means it still passes under the radar. Cascades has a market value of $909 million, and TC Transcontinental has a market value of $1.3 billion, which puts it right on the edge of passing under the radar. No one knows for sure. Resolute Forest Products, which has a market value of $1.6 billion, would fall below the second threshold, which is $1.9 billion for countries with which there is a trade agreement.
I would like to know if my colleague from Louis-Hébert thinks it is acceptable that the thresholds are so high, and that companies that are so important to our economy are not even subject to a review in the event of an acquisition.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2023-02-06 13:44 [p.11276]
Madam Speaker, I really appreciate the question from my colleague. However, he made a little mistake in his question: I am the member for Louis‑Saint‑Laurent, not for Louis‑Hébert. The member for Louis‑Hébert is seated over there. We know that because over the weekend he said on Quebec television that he was in the corner over there with the leader of the Green Party. I will leave it at that.
I thank my colleague for very clearly demonstrating that we must always be vigilant and that when we increase the threshold for review so much, we are exposing ourselves to risk. That is where we need to pay attention. I completely understand.
I will play fair. The situation changed dramatically from 2015 to 2023. Oversight of China in 2015 may not have been very strong and that was understandable. These days that is no longer possible. We need to be vigilant and take this seriously.
As my colleague from the Bloc Québécois demonstrated so well, the bar is currently set too low. We have to set it higher. I also want to thank my colleague for highlighting the problem that came up at Hydro‑Québec.
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