House of Commons Hansard #35 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was investment.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Timmins—James Bay is absolutely right.

When we look at where assets like Nortel started from, they did not start on their own. I spoke earlier about vision, about being able to see where we want to be down the road. Nortel is a prime example of where the federal government was involved right from the beginning. The federal government helped to develop it, helped to get it on its feet and going.

What we see on the other side of the House is a Conservative government that says, “Don't worry about it. Let the market take care of things. Leave it wide open. Don't worry about. The market forces will take care of it.”

Adam Smith is their hero, but Adam Smith lived hundreds of years ago. Things have changed a bit since the day when people went around in horse and buggies. We have changed. Technology has changed. Our needs have changed.

Leaving it wide open really destroys it and allows big multinationals to come in and basically take what they want and leave the rest. That does not benefit people in northern Ontario.

What I am hearing is that allowing large foreign nationals to come into northern Ontario without checking what they are going to do eliminates the vision that a Canadian government should be providing. The Conservative government is not providing any vision.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is just a comment.

I would like the debate in this House to be factual. It is not often that that is not the case.

I want to reference the Stelco situation, which the member may not know about. Stelco was in bankruptcy and was looking for a buyer for a number of years. It was threatening to close down and everyone would lose their jobs.

U.S. Steel came along to bail it out and purchase Stelco. U.S. Steel ran into some difficulties. We had an agreement through the investment plan to allow U.S. Steel to buy it and it would guarantee employment. U.S. Steel did not follow through on that, and we have taken it to court on that. We have followed through on the commitments made.

In addition, members should know that the steel union did not comment on the buy American piece because those restrictions on structural steel in the U.S. had been in place since 1971 and had not changed. In fact, the president of the steel union for North America is actually a Canadian.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I just want to tell the hon. member that I will be in Burlington this weekend and I am looking forward to seeing his fine city.

As far as Stelco goes and the two locations, it is important to note and I did mention it, that the minister actually did write a demand letter asking them to open both locations, or demanding that they open both locations.

What we are looking at is how effective the minister was. They complained about the softwood lumber agreement saying, “We are spending all our time in court and we are not getting any action”. The Conservatives basically gave away the softwood lumber industry to the United States, and we had to kowtow to the Americans on that one.

All of a sudden they are saying that being in court is not such a bad idea when it applies to them. What are the actions? One of them opened up, the other one did not. There are Canadian jobs that do not exist in the steel manufacturing sector because of the government.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to ask a question of the Liberal member who just spoke. I would have liked to know how he distinguishes between foreign investment and foreign ownership.

During questions and comments, I was able to share some thoughts, but I talked mainly about the position of the Bloc Québécois, which will support the NDP motion.

The motion contains names of companies that have been affected by foreign takeovers. Many of these Canadian companies were subject to foreign takeovers that ultimately had a disastrous impact on the Canadian economy.

The Conservatives' economic policy is easy to define. It is based on doctrine and blind dogma, not on tangible, measurable realities.

To the Conservatives, foreign investment automatically means more modern equipment and increased productivity. To the Conservatives, putting a stop to foreign ownership means putting a stop to economic growth. Yet we know that this is completely false.

Unfortunately, though, as we can see from the examples in this motion, sometimes foreign ownership means closures, layoffs and breaking agreements with governments.

We support the NDP motion for several reasons, but since I am short of time, I would like to mention one in particular. The other parties talked about the resources of some of the companies that were named. I want to talk about telecommunications, because it is also mentioned in the motion. In committee, we are analyzing Globalive's purchase of a portion of the spectrum. The CRTC considers Globalive to be foreign interests that go beyond the allowable limit of foreign ownership.

What happened was that the government sold Globalive spectrum licences for $442 million without knowing whether the company qualified for licences. The industry minister testified before the committee. I would like to read a short quote that says a lot: “Before issuing spectrum licences, Industry Canada must confirm compliance with these ownership and control requirements.”

Long before the CRTC made its ruling, spectrum licences had been sold to Globalive, but no verification had been done nor had the CRTC been asked to weigh in. The CRTC made its ruling and the Minister of Industry issued an order to make everything quasi legal. We know full well that this is a roundabout way of opening the door to foreign ownership and liberalizing telecommunications.

The chair of the CRTC also testified. He proposed two rules to liberalize foreign ownership:

Here is the simple approach consisting of two rules that we propose: First, no foreign entity should be allowed to own, directly or indirectly, more than 49% of the issued voting shares of a Canadian communications company. Secondly, no foreign entity should have “control in fact” of a Canadian communications company.

The CRTC's position is clear. Major companies also testified in committee. A number of them are completely in favour of liberalization.

Others, such as Bell Canada, agree—in part, not completely—with the chair of the CRTC that foreign ownership of the issued voting shares be limited to 49%.

With respect to communications, the first bill introduced stated very clearly that it was a matter of sovereignty and identity. Given the convergence of telecommunications, it becomes difficult to separate telecommunications and broadcasting. That is why the Bloc Québécois introduced a private member's bill in the House calling for the creation of a “QRTC” a Quebec radio-television and telecommunications commission precisely to protect what the Conservative government does not want to protect with regard to foreign ownership: sovereignty over identity and culture for Quebec.

The Bloc is in favour of this motion.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the supply proceedings.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #37

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Italian-Canadian Recognition and Restitution Act
Private Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-302 under private members' business. The question is on the motion.