House of Commons Hansard #154 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was investment.

Topics

Settlement of International Investment Disputes Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member used the terms “predictability” and “stability”. One can only imagine when an investor is looking at certain circumstances. The member may want to comment on what Canada looked like coming out of the Conservative years with a $42 billion deficit and what that had to do with foreign investment in Canada.

Settlement of International Investment Disputes Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Mississauga South raises a very important issue. Today our country generates a surplus, which is respected by the international community for sound fiscal management. However, if we were to look back to 1993, our country had lost the confidence of the world and was beginning to lose the confidence of the Canadian public. Our deficit was around $42 billion to $43 billion. The debt was growing out of control. Our financial market was weakening. Our dollar was weak.

Those problems really hurt investors. Now there is sound fiscal management because of the Liberal Party and the hard work by Canadians, which turned that around.

Settlement of International Investment Disputes Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-53.

Although the bill is extremely technical, it does not change much for Canada. However, it still offers an opportunity to ask ourselves about the nature of the investment agreements that have been signed by the Canadian government, and more specifically the bilateral agreements, and about the content of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The problem lies not so much in Bill C-53 as in the agreements that we are signing, that are arbitrated under that convention.

I would note that if this bill is enacted, it will make it possible for Canada to ratify the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States, and will also make it possible for Canada to become a member of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.

As we can see, this means incorporating the requirements of the ICSID Convention into domestic law, to ensure that arbitral awards can be enforced and to provide the necessary immunities for the centre and its personnel.

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes was created, we should remember, by the World Bank, under a treaty referred to as the Washington Convention of 1965. As of today, 156 countries have ratified the convention and are members of ICSID. The purpose of the convention and the centre is to arbitrate disputes between a state and a foreign investor.

There are two possible kinds of disputes between a state and a foreign investor. There are disputes relating to compliance with bilateral foreign investment protection agreements. For example, and I believe this was mentioned earlier, we recently signed an agreement with Peru. However, hardly anyone in the government alerted us to the signing of a new bilateral investment agreement. That agreement was very quietly signed between Canada and Peru. If it results in challenges, they can be arbitrated under this convention, and by this centre.

There is a second possible type of dispute. Disputes arise regarding agreements signed by governments with foreign investors. The government of Quebec regularly signs these kinds of agreement to generate foreign investment, for example by promising to supply electricity at an agreed price.

One can think of a number of major projects carried out on the North Shore. Discussions were held and commitments were made concerning electricity rates for the aluminum sector in exchange for commitments from the companies with respect to economic benefits from second and third processing, or future investments.

As I said, Canada's membership will not have any impact on the provinces. Only the federal level will be affected, although the provinces also will have the possibility of including in agreements they might enter into with investors provisions providing for the use of the centre and the convention.

Quebec has negotiated in the past, and could do so again in the future, agreements with foreign companies involved in the exploitation or processing of natural resources for competitive electricity rates under certain conditions. In such cases, it will be necessary to ensure that the endeavours of the Government of Quebec, whose good faith I never doubt, meet all the criteria in the agreement.

I have mentioned the bilateral treaty between the federal government and Peru. This treaty already provides for the use of arbitration or the ICSID process. Canada not being a member of the ICSID, it does not have access to the regular process because it has not ratified the convention. Additional facility arbitration rules apply under such circumstances.

As we can see, nothing much will change, except that we will be able to use the regular process.

In fact, Canada's adherence to the centre and the convention will enable it to take part in negotiations to amend the convention or the centre's rules, and ensure its ability to participate in appointments to arbitration tribunals.

I believe that this is important, because we know that this centre and this sort of convention will be increasingly important not only to the economic future, but to the overall future of trading nations such as Canada and Quebec.

In the final analysis, the centre is just a tribunal, and in that respect, we do not have a problem with Bill C-53. What we have a problem with is not the tribunal, but the poor treaties Canada has signed to protect investments. In our view, it is only natural that there should be investment protection agreements, provided that those agreements protect certain rights, especially the sovereign rights of the states involved, whether the agreements are between states or between states and companies.

It is only natural for investors to try and make sure that they will not be divested of their property and that they will not become victims of discrimination. This is the sort of situation that foreign investment protection agreements are meant to cover. They are not a new phenomenon, but have been around for more than two centuries now. In 1788, France and the United States signed an agreement to protect foreign investments. Today, there are 2,400 bilateral investment protection agreements in the world. If we add tax treaties covering the tax treatment of foreign investments and foreign source income, there are roughly 5,000 bilateral treaties relating to foreign investments.

I spoke yesterday about Bill C-33 on foreign trusts, and I will come back to that.

Settlement of International Investment Disputes Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

After question period, the hon. member will have 13 minutes to continue his remarks.

Dennis Young
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I regret to announce the retirement of my long-time legislative assistant, Dennis Young, from Parliament Hill.

Dennis and I have worked side by side since I was elected to Parliament in 1993. He is the most faithful and hard-working assistant that a member of Parliament could ever hope to find.

Dennis used his creativity every day on every file. He processed and analyzed more than 550 access to information requests. His research exposed the $2 billion gun registry fiasco. With his tenacity and highest of principles, Dennis has values that will not be compromised.

Firearms owners owe Dennis Young a huge debt for his relentless battle on behalf of real public safety and property rights. His legacy in Ottawa includes the popular parliamentary outdoors caucus and serving as a political beacon for the people of Yorkton—Melville.

I thank my friend for being the best strategic partner one could ever ask for. Lydia and I will keep Dennis and Hazel in our prayers as they head west for a well deserved retirement. God bless Dennis. I will miss him.

Donald MacInnis
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to celebrate the life of a great Canadian.

Donald MacInnis distinguished himself in this chamber fighting for and serving the people of Cape Breton--East Richmond as their member of Parliament for 17 years as a proud Progressive Conservative.

A man of rare character and true substance, Donald was an exceptional person. In his younger years he was a star athlete with the Caledonia Rugby team and the Glace Bay Firemen's track team.

He answered the call to duty during the second world war and served as a gunner and paratrooper with the RCAF. Then, like so many of his friends following the war, he entered the coal mines of Cape Breton.

Prior to municipal amalgamation, Donald served as the last mayor of the town of Glace Bay. Driven by a tremendous sense of principle and purpose, he gave it his all, whether it was on the football field, the battlefield, or on the floor of this chamber and he did so for the benefit of others.

As noted in his memorial tribute, he was just as much at home behind a podium as he was behind his wheelbarrow. Donald took every challenge man and nature threw at him with a feisty spirit and a determined will.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Donald's family.

Ahuntsic-Cartierville Housing Committee
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I want to commend the remarkable work of the Ahuntsic-Cartierville housing committee, which, on Monday, May 7, organized a demonstration in my riding. This is a grassroots organization that raises awareness about the needs in social housing.

The new government has indeed invested in social housing, but investment is down 25% if we take into account inflation since 1993.

In May 2006, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights looked at Canada's housing record and described the situation as a national emergency. In Montreal, the waiting list for low-income housing has 23,000 names on it, including 2,000 from the Ahuntsic area alone.

While respecting the various jurisdictions, the government must contribute to the development of programs to deal with this national emergency, as it is defined by the United Nations. This is a matter of fairness and social peace.

Catholic Education
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, this Thursday, May 17, is World Catholic Education Day.

In many communities, Catholic schools across Canada continue to make a profoundly positive contribution to society. In some provinces and territories they are supported by government funds. In others, they are operated wholly by direct parent support.

My own Catholic education ingrained in me a profound respect for Catholic social teaching, respect for human rights, social justice and the dignity of every single human being. I was taught encyclicals on the right to work. I learned that Catholics could have a distinctive identity and spiritual mission, but also a profound respect for other faith traditions. It remains a challenge to remember this inclusive teaching for the rights of all human beings regardless of our differences.

Congratulations to the teachers, the administrators, trustees, support staff, students and parents that together make up the mosaic of Catholic education. I particularly want to celebrate the enormous contribution made by the 14 elementary schools--

Catholic Education
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Fleetwood—Port Kells.

Government Policies
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, Liberal heel dragging and empty rhetoric have given way to a positive Conservative agenda producing real results for Canadians. In our short time in office, Canada's new government has listened to Canadians and acted on their priorities.

In B.C.'s lower mainland crime is a hot button issue. We have responded with a dozen justice bills, including legislation raising the age of consent, tackling street racing, drug impaired driving, gun crimes, and repeat offenders.

For many the environment is a top concern. That is why our government has acted with new programs promoting energy efficiency, fuel efficient vehicles and alternative energies. We have put in place an action plan to reduce greenhouse gases and slash air pollution and we are helping the provinces finance their own initiatives.

Our government is funding vital transportation improvements, reforming the Senate, cutting immigrant landing fees, assisting parents, reducing taxes and putting more money into health care.

While Liberals talk, we act and deliver on the priorities of Canadians.

Five with Drive
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, May 27, five individuals, the “Five with Drive”, will leave Halifax and walk to Markham, Ontario, a distance of more than 2,000 kilometres.

The walk is to support the Centre for DREAMS, Inc., a registered charitable organization that helps intellectually challenged adults become active and productive in the community.

I have sent information packages on the walk to all members from Markham to Halifax and to senators from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec. I hope that MPs will raise awareness about the walk in their local communities.

Financial donations are welcomed, as are donations of food and refreshments along the route. Members might also contact their local media about the walk.

Let us all work together to ensure the walk is a resounding success.

Skin Cancer Screening
Statements By Members

May 15th, 2007 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remind Canadians of the importance of early detection as a means of preventing skin cancer. I am honoured to be a co-host with the Canadian Dermatology Association for the second Chuck Cadman memorial skin cancer screening.

I learned firsthand the importance of early detection at last year's event. Although I had absolutely no indication that anything was wrong with me, it was at this screening that I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. This is one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer, but it was caught early at the screening right here, and today I am healthy and cancer free.

This year's clinic is today. I urge all MPs to go to the clinic this afternoon in Room 200 West Block from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m, even if they have no signs of problems.

I want to thank the dermatologists who volunteer their time and effort at this clinic. I especially want to thank Mrs. Cadman, who co-hosted last year's event and is co-hosting this year's event as well.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, Sophie London, a 10 year old who attends the Saint-Barthélemy school in my riding of Papineau, sent me a copy of a letter addressed to the Prime Minister in which she mentions her concern about the 1991 Nobel Peace Price laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese activist who has been denied her rights for many years.

Sophie and her classmates have signed a petition calling on parliamentarians in this House to take decisive action to encourage the return of democracy in Burma.

On May 18, 2005, the House of Commons adopted the report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on the motion on Burma. It specifically called on the government to “urge the authorities in Burma to release [...] Aung San Suu Kyi”.

Sophie London's letter is rather timely and reminds us to honour our commitments. Let her request be heard.

Science and Technology Exploration Centre
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, after years of waiting, the time has finally come for the Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches area to lay the groundwork for the creation of a science and technology exploration centre.

Our region is the seventh largest municipality in Canada and yet, among the 20 largest cities of the country, it is the only one that does not have such a scientific and educational centre. What were our predecessors doing? Was the Bloc Québécois asleep at the switch or were those members thinking about their future? Fortunately, the Conservative members from Quebec can deliver the goods.

As promised during the election campaign, our new government, through the CED, is contributing $420,000 to establish the project office, in partnership with the Boîte à science, the City of Lévis and valued private partners.

I would like to congratulate Manon Théberge, executive director of the Boîte à science on her infectious passion for the scientific education of our youth, as well as mayor Danièle Roy-Marinelli for getting the City of Lévis involved in this project that is so important to our entire region. Thank you.

It could be said, promise—

Science and Technology Exploration Centre
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.