House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was company.

Topics

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

November 4th, 2010 / 10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting two petitions. The first petition concerns animal welfare.

Ensuring that animals are treated justly and that their welfare is protected needs to be a priority for the government. There is unquestioning consensus among members of the scientific community that animals can feel pain and they do suffer as a result of abuse or inhumane conditions.

Over one billion people around the world rely on animals for their livelihood and, as such, signatories to this petition find it incumbent upon the Government of Canada to act to better protect animals. Moreover, animals are often significantly affected by natural disasters and yet are seldom considered during relief efforts and emergency planning.

It is for those reasons that I submit this petition urging the government to support a universal declaration on animal welfare.

Public Transit Safety
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition urges the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to amend the Criminal Code to better reflect the growing incidence of violence against public transit, school bus, paratransit and intercity operators.

Over 40% of bus operators have indicated that they have been physically assaulted in their careers and that this needs to change. In 2008, there were 2,064 reported incidents of assault committed against transit workers and, as such, the signatories of this petition ask that the government take action to address the alarming and very dangerous escalation of violence against transit operators by amending the Criminal Code so that they are legally recognized in the same fashion as peace officers.

Aerospace Industry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of 250 workers in local 1751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers who work at Air Canada's maintenance and overhaul units, as well as members of their families. The petitioners are calling on the Minister of Finance to ensure that Air Canada or its subsidiaries comply with the Air Canada Public Participation Act, which requires that Air Canada maintain three operational centres in Winnipeg, Mississauga and Montreal. At stake are 23,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Copyright
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House and present a petition brought forward by many people across Canada who are concerned about the government's very unbalanced approach to copyright, particularly its provisions on digital locks, the technological protection measures.

It is one thing to have technological protection measures on copyrighted works to ensure they are not stolen or pirated, but to put technological protection measures in place to erase the rights that Canadians would otherwise be able to enjoy would interfere with the rights that Canadians have, rights that are defined under Canadian parliamentary tradition. Serious questions are being raised about its effect on education and the development of further arts.

Many of these petitioners are concerned that what will end up happening is the locking down of content that Canadians have paid for.

I would like to present this petition and call upon the government to recognize that we need a balanced approach on the digital lock provisions under Bill C-32.

Bullying
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of constituents, mostly from Edgerton and Chauvin in my constituency, who note that bullying is becoming a very significant problem in Canada. Particularly with the new communication methods, including the Internet, email, cell phones, et cetera, bullying is becoming easier for people to carry out.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to consider introducing legislation that would target putting an end to bullying.

Veterans Affairs
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to offer a petition that was presented to me by President Elsie Hetherman of the Pickering Veterans Association. It is very fitting, given the rally that will be here on the Hill on November 6.

We were presented this petition by dozens of second world war and Korean War veterans, and so its significance is not to be underestimated.

The hundreds of veterans from our communities of Pickering, Ajax, Markham and Scarborough call upon the government to enact the new veterans charter and other federal acts, programs and regulations. They ask that the government reintroduce legislation to recreate all lost programs, benefits and certain legislation, including that which is contained in the Pension Act, and place a regulatory moratorium on the reductions to VAC.

They also wish to emphatically renew the mandate of the veterans ombudsman, Colonel Pat Stogran, and implement legislation guaranteeing the veterans ombudsman is always a veteran and his office is independent from the agency.

We understand that there are several other grievances but in light of November 11, I think this is very timely.

Seeds Regulations
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise on behalf of constituents in the Okanagan who are tabling a petition with regard to Bill C-474. They have concerns with respect to the seeds regulations and support amending the seeds regulations to require an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.

Breast Cancer
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today. on behalf of all Canadian women who are over the age of 40, to present a petition calling upon the Government of Canada to work with the provinces and territories to improve screening practice to reduce breast cancer mortality.

On the weekend, I attended the 2010 National Conference for Young Women Living with Breast Cancer. The guest speaker at that event was Yvonne Jones, the leader of the Liberal Party in Newfoundland and Labrador and the leader of the official opposition. Yvonne, who is just 42 years old, has just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer diagnosed in women in their forties accounted for an estimated 16.5%. or one in six of all breast cancer deaths. There are approximately three million Canadian women in the 40 to 49 age category. Mammographs, mammography and screening for that group for 10 years would save 2,100 lives.

However, significant differences exist across jurisdictions. They include policies regarding the screening of women 40 to 49 in high risk women. Breast cancer screening programs offered by Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador do not accept women age 40 to 49, while in British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alberta with a referral, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island do. Nunavut does not have an organized screening program at the moment

The women who signed this petition at the conference, and there will be other petitions coming, are asking the federal government to establish funding and programs so that all provinces and territories have an organized screening program, that women aged 40 to 49 be eligible for free-of-charge breast screening to begin at age 40, and that all women be able to self refer to each province's screening program.

The problem right now is that women cannot do that until they are 50 years old. Therefore, we are calling upon the federal government to work with the provinces and territories to improve screening practices to reduce breast cancer mortality in our country.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Procedure and House Affairs
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, earlier, a Conservative member tabled the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of the legislative committee on Bill C-49.

The problem is that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs delegated the negotiation of this membership to the four whips. Our practice has usually been that for us to consider that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has adopted the decision of the four whips, the whips must have signed off on the report. This takes the place of adoption by the committee. But the Bloc Québécois whip has not signed off on this report, and in my opinion, this means that the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has not been adopted by the committee.

My point of order does not have to do with the content of the report—I have not seen it—but I think that this sets an extremely dangerous precedent for a practice that, up until now, has been accepted by all of the parties and the chair.

I therefore request that the tabling of this report be withdrawn until we are certain that the four whips have signed off on the document.

Procedure and House Affairs
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I do not have any information regarding the status of this report, which was simply tabled in the House. However, I will look at it shortly to see whether the hon. member's complaint that the report is not acceptable has merit. If that is the case, I will get back to the House.

The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons on the same point of order.

Procedure and House Affairs
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we certainly await your judgment and, if there is any way we can clear up the House or the Bloc's concerns, we should be happy to work with them on that issue.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Takeovers
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, since the recent takeover bid for Potash Corporation raises concerns about the adequacy of the foreign investment review process under the Investment Canada Act (ICA), the Government of Canada should take immediate steps to amend the Investment Canada Act to ensure the views of those most directly affected by any takeover are considered, and any decision on whether a takeover delivers a “net benefit” to Canada is transparent by: (a) making public hearings a mandatory part of foreign investment review; (b) ensuring those hearings are open to all directly affected and expert witnesses they choose to call on their behalf; (c) ensuring all conditions attached to approval of a takeover be made public and be accompanied by equally transparent commitments to monitoring corporate performance on those conditions and appropriate and enforceable penalties for failure to live up to those conditions; (d) clarifying that a goal of the Act is to encourage foreign investment that brings new capital, creates new jobs, transfers new technology to this country, increases Canadian-based research and development, contributes to sustainable economic development and improves the lives of Canadian workers and their communities, and not foreign investment motivated simply by a desire to gain control of a strategic Canadian resource; and that the House express its opposition to the takeover of Potash Corporation by BHP.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to debate this important topic. I will be sharing my time with the member for Windsor West.

New Democrats believe it is time here in Canada that we took strong stands on the issue of foreign investment and, in particular, that it is the Prime Minister's job to make sure Canada benefits from foreign investment. The litany where this has not been the case is a tragic one: Inco, Alcan, Falconbridge, Stelco, Nortel. These Conservative fire sales have not benefited community. Instead they have left workers out in the cold, having been thrown off the job despite promises made by both the government and the companies involved.

Think of the communities of Sudbury, Timmins, Hamilton, Miramichi, Kenora, Thunder Bay and Vancouver Island, whether it is mining or whether it is the wood sector. In many others, workers have been left without an income for their families. That has been the consequence of the government's unwillingness to stand up to these multinational corporations, which come in here and want our resources, want to make a play in the global market and want to put our jobs offshore. They have any kind of nefarious plan up their sleeves, and the government has gone for it hook, line and sinker. That is until the people of Saskatchewan rose up and joined in a chorus to say no, and we are thankful that they did so because the government has left local economies deflated, people without their jobs, pensions attacked and collective agreements shredded by these companies.

The NDP is not opposed to foreign investment, but it wants to ensure that it is good investment, investment that creates jobs in innovative areas, that promotes sustainable practices and that produces other benefits that Canadians are looking for.

When it comes to selling major Canadian companies, we believe that Canadians need to know how the sale will benefit them. But that will not happen as long as the Investment Canada Act is not amended.

Right now, decisions are made behind closed doors. Government does not have to tell us. We are just supposed to take its word for it when it approves these takeovers, and frankly, Canadians are left in the dark when it comes to the future of their natural resources, their jobs and key industries in our economy.

Ottawa does not have a good track record on this, when it comes to the question of trust. In the last 25 years, between the two governing parties, they managed to reject only one bid while they rubber-stamped 13,500 takeovers and investments.

The conditions that the government claims it is putting in place clearly are not enough. They are just as quickly ignored as they are put down on paper. The government's signature, it turns out, does not really mean much when it comes to defending Canadians' interests.

That has to change.

The chairman of Sherritt International, Ian Delaney, said, and I quote, "Canada has squandered its title as the centre of global mining finance.”

Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives would intervene when Inco and Falconbridge were in trouble. They made no effort to help them, to work together or to ensure that the companies would be successful and jobs would be protected.

They simply left it to the foreign investor to come walking in with every kind of siren call and every kind of promise, and they signed off on it. We have to wonder if they even looked at the paper they signed.

However, I will tell members one thing. When the pink slips went out and people saw that signature and had to go home to their families and tell them they had lost their jobs after they had been offered hope by the government, which said it was approving this foreign investment so that we would have a better economy, that was a tragic day and each of those families has suffered as a result. We are talking about thousands of people who are facing a very cold winter as a result.

We have to fix this. If we just think about the thousand workers who have been laid off at Stelco, in Hamilton, I think members will know what I am talking about.

We have an act dealing with foreign investment that is not working. Let us be crystal clear about this. It is not working. Of course when we raised these complaints, the government just simply railed on with its ideological phraseology instead of taking to heart the kinds of implications that are meted out to people in this country by these decisions.

That is why, as a result of all this, the people of Saskatchewan said no. If they had not been able to watch what happened in Sudbury, in Timmins and in the forestry communities across this country when takeovers took place, they would not have been so concerned. However, they saw the record of the current government and they said we cannot let that happen here with potash. That is what they said.

Dwain Lingenfelter, our NDP leader in Saskatchewan, raised these issues forcefully in the legislative assembly. I have to say that the government there, at the time, ridiculed the idea that there should be any concerns about a foreign takeover. That is just exactly what we saw here, in fact, when we raised questions. The Prime Minister sloughed it off by saying, “Oh, well. It's just an Australian company taking over an American company. Who cares?” That is virtually what he said. Who cares? It turns out that the people of Saskatchewan care and the people of Canada care. That is why we need to take action here today. That is what this is all about.

Several provincial premiers from all parties have come out firmly against it. Members of Canada's business community have publicly warned the Prime Minister, and this is not the first time they have done so.

Dick Haskayne, the University of Calgary board chair emeritus, for whom its business school is named, also a Potash Corporation shareholder, says he is absolutely opposed to this takeover. He says it is an issue of giving up a large inventory of our strategic natural resources. Once those resources slip through our fingers, they are gone for good. We are not going to get them back.

Today we are moving a motion that would help Canadians believe that their government is acting in their best interests and that would give a little political common sense to a government that blindly upholds free market values.

We can amend the Investment Canada Act, make the process more public, more transparent, more accountable and demand that governments prove that there is in fact a net benefit at the end of the day.

How do we do this?

First, our motion says to make the process more public. Second, commit to transparency so that Canadians can see the full reasoning. We are still completely in the dark as to the reasoning behind the decision of the government on potash so far. Finally, be clear about what that net benefit is: jobs, technology, research and development, sustainable economy. Let us make sure that the list with the specifics is public and available to Canadians, because if the government is not going to police these companies, Canadians will be able to police these companies and make sure the benefits are there.

It is good discipline, and there are some very good managers in some of these companies here in Canada. They are trying to do the right thing, but often their head office somewhere far away, motivated by shareholders who want to squeeze every dollar out of the global operation, end up saying to the Canadian manager, “Sorry, we are shutting you down”. If he or she is able to point to the agreement with the people of Canada, which is public and the Canadians are watching, this can have an impact. It is moral suasion backed up by law, and that is what we need.

We are calling on this government to prove that there is a net benefit, first by making the process public and second, by committing to transparency so that Canadians can see the reasoning behind any decision. Lastly, we are clearly defining what we mean by “net benefit”: job creation, technology, research and development, a sustainable economy and so on.

Multinational bids on our natural resources are not about to stop anytime soon.

The NDP believes it is time the Conservatives understood the difference between hostile foreign takeovers that are nothing more than an attempt to control our natural resources and foreign investments that create jobs, innovation and sustainable practices for our country.

I will close with this, as the motion does.

Our motion calls for the House to reject the proposed takeover of the Potash Corporation as proposed by BHP. We think governments should be obligated to clearly demonstrate that the foreign investments will benefit Canadians and that the sanctions are there if they do not.

That is the import and content of our motion. We hope all members of this House will join in supporting it, because that way we can move forward with good foreign investments and reject the bad ones.