House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 41st Parliament, 1st 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

3:40 p.m.

Cambridge
Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Minister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in the House today as Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and I welcome this opportunity to share our government's solid commitment to the people and businesses in the London area.

I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

As member of Parliament for Cambridge, North Dumfries, I know that the global economic downturn was felt particular hard in southern Ontario, but our government responded in a very big and immediate way. In 2009, we created the Federal Economic Development Agency for southern Ontario, or FedDev, as we prefer to call it, to help the region recover from the effects of the global economic downturn and set the foundation in place for future prosperity.

Since that time, we have been working with communities, businesses and residents all throughout southern Ontario to help reshape the region's economy and achieve a sustainable and prosperous future. This, of course, includes the London area where, to date, we have made investments in about 69 projects, almost 70 projects, totalling more than $61 million.

Our government took immediate action by targeting funding through programs, such as the recreational infrastructure Canada program and the community adjustment fund, to create jobs and grow the economy in the short term.

As the economy began to turn, we expanded our programs. We refocused and provided resources to invest in projects designed to enhance the growth and competitiveness of local businesses and the communities in the area for the longer term.

Through FedDev, our government committed funding for the Canadian manufacturers and exporters. I can tell the House that 10 manufacturing businesses in the London area applied and benefited from $330,000 to help them improve their productivity and reach out to global markets. Unfortunately, the NDP voted against this kind of funding.

We also invested $8 million in the construction of the International Air Freight Transshipment Centre at the London International Airport to help diversify London's economy, to help bring products, including supplies, to companies like EMD and to help businesses in the area export their wares, but, of course, the NDP voted against that type of funding too.

In 2010, FedDev announced a new suite of initiatives designed to push the envelope of innovation and to ensure that southern Ontario would continue to grow and attract the smartest minds, the most skilled personnel and talent, as well as build and bring to market the most promising products and ideas. This is the key to securing a sustainable and prosperous economic future, not just for the London area but throughout southern Ontario.

Our strategy begins with young people and it ends with fresh ways of thinking, novel approaches to the challenges and opportunities that we face, and exciting new innovations. We know the importance of encouraging our youngest minds to explore the benefits of pursuing an education and a career in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics field. That is precisely why we designed the youth stem initiative. Through the youth stem program, we are helping to expand the educational outreach that teaches our young people that science is not only fun but also provides meaningful and, in many cases, very high-paying careers.

That is also why, under this initiative, the Prime Minister announced up to $2 million for Let's Talk Science, a London-based charitable organization that delivers science learning programs to children and youth helping them discover the world and pick a career in science, engineering and technology. The NDP voted no on that kind of funding. This is an investment that will have an impact, not just across Ontario but into our future as, so far, over a million children in southern Ontario have had a positive exposure to this program.

However, that is not all. We also committed close to $200,000 that will help the London Regional Children's Museum provide hands-on programs aimed at helping children learn about science and discover careers in the scientific field. This project is not only drawing visitors to London but those visitors are spending money in London.

Our investment of more than $985,000 for the London-based Partners in Research is helping the organization expand its interactive science-based teaching programs all across southern Ontario, linking researchers with students from grades five to twelve, our future leaders. Unfortunately, the NDP members voted against that type of funding too. However, we are confident, regardless of their obstruction, that these investments will create future leaders and that more new inventions, discoveries, innovations, technologies and processes will be sold to the world, helping that local economy and our national one.

We are also working with post-secondary institutions and not-for-profit organizations to support skills and leadership development and foster innovation and productivity. Through the graduate enterprise internship, we are building a talent pool of highly-skilled workers, something we often hear from the NDP as being needed.

To continue on this theme, from grade three through to graduation and beyond, we launched another initiative called the scientists and engineers in business initiative. Again, we are working with not-for-profit organizations and post-secondary institutions in southern Ontario that offer programs and services or fellowships to improve the success rate of stem related start-up businesses.

While it is important for small and medium size businesses to have access to skilled and well-trained workers who generate new ideas, we also recognized that they needed access to research and development capacity to help get their ideas tweaked, perfected and into the marketplace. Therefore, we recently announced the applied research and commercialization initiative. This initiative is helping small and medium size businesses partner with our colleges and universities. This helps businesses to grow, students to learn and local economies to compete. The NDP voted against that type of funding. The NDP stood in the way of the University of Western Ontario getting a $750,000 investment under the first round of this initiative, but it is now eligible for another round of funding that we just announced.

Through the technology development program, we invested more than $19.5 million in the Southern Ontario Water Consortium, including funding to help the University of Western Ontario, the City of London and local industry partners on a testing site for water treatment technology. This project will not only bring innovative water related technologies to our local market, but the global market is estimated to be $400 billion. The NDP voted against that type of funding.

We have programs for venture capital to help businesses grow and compete on a global scale. That is why we set up the prosperity initiative.

I could go on and on but I think I have made my point. It is very clear that our government and the Conservative members on this side of the House support the investments in and around London, as well as across southern Ontario, despite the obstruction of the NDP.

However, we continue to look for more people, businesses, applicants and organizations to work with us to seize even more opportunities and benefits for London. It is through these programs and our investments in projects in the London area and throughout southern Ontario that we will ensure that our region can make the most of every opportunity to improve its innovation, productivity and competitiveness. Our approach continues to be supporting jobs and growth for families, businesses and communities, in particular London.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised to hear this kind of discourse, since we are talking about jobs in manufacturing. I understand that the member wants to promote his portfolio, but he is forgetting an important fact: people are losing their jobs, high-paying jobs, and no one is talking about that. I am completely stunned.

I would like to bring the member back to the motion currently before us and ask him what tax breaks do for large corporations, considering how those corporations use them. They take off with the money and move the jobs to the United States.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are of course terribly disappointed with the outcome of this particular company in London. This is part of the changing economy that is happening around the world.

We acted as quickly as possible. In fact, we were there to help through the knowledge infrastructure program. We added 127,000 square feet of additional space for classrooms in order to teach the skilled workers that we need in this country. New Democrats voted against that. They voted against Fanshawe College. We also put almost a quarter of a million square feet into the University of Western Ontario. What does the member think our universities and colleges do? They support the workers of tomorrow. That is exactly what we want to do.

New Democrats complain that these are not good projects and they vote no for every one of them. However, I am looking at a picture right now depicting the member for London—Fanshawe, who voted against all this money, proudly displaying a picture of a cheque worth $96 million. She voted no for it in the House and then bragged about it on her website.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Before resuming questions and comments, I would ask the minister and other hon. members not to use props while speaking in the House.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Guelph.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know my friend opposite has a wonderful way of deflecting questions that are asked of him, but I would ask him not to in this instance.

He speaks of all these one-off investments, and I acknowledge that these investments have been made. Yet I hear at committee, particularly the agriculture committee, that our researchers and innovators are heading south. Why? Because there is no clear strategy by the government for investment, innovation and commercialization.

My friend may not be open to that prospect, but it is the truth. Business expenditure on research and development by the government's own investigation has gone down to 1% of GDP. It used to be almost double that. The average in the OECD countries is 1.6%. Everyone who has come before committee has said they have a deep concern about investment in innovation and commercialization. That is also why our jobs are heading south. I would ask the member to explain that, please.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to. I probably misunderstood the first part of the question. I thought the member suggested that our scientists are heading south and that is completely false. We have a brain gain in Canada.

With respect to innovation and the expenditures by businesses on research and development, the member is correct. However, unlike when the member's party was in government and did absolutely nothing for this decades old problem, this government set in place a science and technology strategy in 2007. We have built buildings and research capacity across our nation. We have put funding toward equipment for those buildings and for the people who use the equipment in those buildings. That is why we have a brain gain. The NDP voted against it every time.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak about the motion moved by the member for London—Fanshawe. Our government has always said that it was going to focus on the economy. That is what we have done, and that is what we are going to continue to do. It is what Canadians are most concerned about, and we are on the right track.

I should point out that I sympathize with the employees of White Birch Paper. We are continually reviewing the legislative framework of the Investment Canada Act to ensure that it is up to date and effective. I can assure my colleagues that our government is going to continue to bring in foreign investments that will provide a net benefit for Canada. In order to enjoy a full economic recovery, we must focus on our strengths. What does that mean? It means continuing to welcome foreign investors. Indeed, unlike the opposition, we understand the importance of attracting capital that will help our businesses to innovate and be competitive internationally. As the minister indicated earlier, in practical terms, during our first six years in government, foreign companies have invested approximately $270 billion in Canada in transactions subject to review. Moreover, $150 billion has been invested in terms of transactions not subject to review.

Why would the NDP be opposed to that? Because the NDP dreams of closing our borders, as is evidenced by the measures it proposes. While the opposition attempts to derail the economic recovery by constantly calling for new taxes, we are working hard. We have implemented tax credits, we have invested in skills training and infrastructure, and we have supported research and efforts to bring innovation to market.

We have invested $14.8 billion in order to stimulate job creation through infrastructure, $13.2 billion to support industries and communities, $8.3 billion on training and getting unemployed Canadians back to work, and $3.8 billion to advance the knowledge economy. That is over $40 billion in support for the manufacturing sector.

Finally, our government has eliminated tariffs on a broad array of products used by manufacturers. That reduces production costs for businesses and improves our capacity to go head-to-head with the competition on the world stage. The results have been unequivocal: approximately 600,000 new Canadian jobs have been created since July 2009. Canada is the only G7 country to have recovered more jobs than it lost during the economic slowdown.

Thanks to our world class economic action plan, we have established partnerships with the provinces in order to provide training and financial support to affected workers. All of these steps are being taken to keep our workers in the labour force and to assist in the transition to new jobs, if necessary. We will strengthen our economy by taking concrete action. The motion on the floor, however, is not an example of concrete action.

In this motion, the member laments the closure of the White Birch Paper plant and is concerned about what our government is doing for the forestry sector. To begin with, I would like to point out to my colleague that our Conservative government is extremely concerned about the state of the forestry industry and its workers, and that, just like her, we are extremely disappointed by the turn of events involving White Birch Paper and the closure of its Stadacona mill in Quebec City.

We are concerned about the state of the forestry industry.

That is why, in the midst of the global crisis, we reacted so quickly in order to implement measures to help businesses in the forestry industry, their workers and the communities they live in.

The forestry crisis is not an isolated problem; it is part of a global forestry problem. In Quebec, and elsewhere in Canada, the global economic crisis is only making matters worse and further exposing the vulnerability of the forestry industry. Many of our regional economies depend on this sector. In fact, more than a third of Quebec's regional municipalities are highly dependent on the forestry industry. In 2011, the value of manufactured products from the sawmills and pulp and paper mills in Quebec was nearly $14 billion.

Unfortunately, since 2005, Quebec's forestry product sales have dropped by 27% and exports by 35%. The situation is not just momentary; it is also a structural problem.

Traditional markets for the pulp and paper and softwood lumber sectors are in decline. Just recently in the United States, housing construction was only one-quarter of number the homes being built before the crisis. More than half of our wood products are exported and roughly 90% of our exports go to the United States. The rise of electronic media is another striking example of the scope of this crisis: the consumption of printed news is in decline—roughly 43% less than in 2005.

Competition from emerging countries, the housing crisis in the United States, and the strength of the Canadian dollar are the challenges facing our forestry industry. All communities and the industry have to adapt to the new needs of the market and to the new economic realities. Fortunately, on this side of the House, we believe there is a great future for the forestry industry. That is why we acted swiftly to help the workers and communities who have been seriously affected by this crisis.

I would like to talk about some of our government's initiatives in support of the forestry industry in Quebec and Canada. From January 2006 to February 3, 2012, our Conservative government supported 415 initiatives to either diversify the economy of Quebec forestry communities or support projects in the wood industry. This represents a total of $259.7 million in financial assistance and $800.2 million in total costs. The objectives of these projects were to improve productivity, develop markets and drive innovation.

Under the economic action plan—which the opposition unfortunately voted against—$1 billion over two years was allocated in 2009 to the community adjustment fund, including $212 million to Quebec. Of this amount, $119 million was allocated to the forestry sector. This fund helped Quebec mitigate the short-term impact of restructuring in forestry-dependent communities and create or maintain, under the Canada-Quebec agreements, thousands of silviculture jobs in Quebec's regions.

In 2010, our government also announced $100 million over three years for the temporary initiative for the strengthening of Quebec's forest economies. This measure to diversify and support communities affected by the forestry crisis addresses the issues affecting regions dependent upon the forestry sector.

Thanks to our government, significant funds have also been allocated by Natural Resources Canada to help the Canadian and Quebec forestry sector. Of note, in 2009, $170 million was allocated over two years to fund several other programs.

I am sorry, but my time is up. I hope I will be able to continue during the question and comment period and provide more information.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Claude Patry Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his speech, the hon. member mentioned some nice numbers and millions of dollars, but I would like him to explain to me the closure of the Dolbeau mill in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, the shutting down of paper machine number six. The small mills in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean have closed. The Conservatives say that they are investing millions of dollars. I would like to know why my riding is not seeing any of that money. People in my riding are not working.

What is the Conservatives' recovery plan? If they have so much money and they are investing it, I want to know what is being done in my riding.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for allowing me to pass on additional information that will surely be useful to him.

There is the transformative technologies program and there are the pilot scale demonstration projects, which support the development of new technologies and innovation in the forestry industry in areas such as bioenergy, new technologies and next-generation building systems.

There is the value to wood program, which supports research and the transfer of technology associated with value-added projects and which offers technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses in his riding that want to adopt new technologies.

There is also the Canada wood export program and the North American wood first initiative, which support activities to develop overseas markets. They promote the use of wood in non-residential construction in North America. I would also like to mention one last initiative and that is the allocation of $1 billion in 2009 to the pulp and paper green transformation program.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the very least we can say about this government, when it comes to the economy, is that it has shown neither prudence nor foresight regarding the economic crisis, since the Minister of Finance was the last person in Canada to realize and admit that an economic crisis had hit Canada. We are still grappling with this economic crisis despite the rhetoric we just heard from my colleague. I listened to him closely. Believe it or not, he spoke very highly of foreign investors—he sung their praises.

I would like to ask him how these foreign investments benefited the employees of Electrolux, a Swedish company—foreign investments? They pulled up stakes here and went to Nashville because that city offered them better conditions. Even in his own region, Chaudière—Appalaches, 100 jobs were lost at J. M. Smucker, the jam producer. My colleague from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean also mentioned that businesses are closing their doors. Thousands of jobs have been lost.

What is this government doing apart from announcing cutbacks to the tune of $8 billion?

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to be able to respond to my colleague regarding Chaudière—Appalaches. A recent study published yesterday predicts that there will be 40,000 new jobs available in Chaudière—Appalaches over the next three years. These new jobs will be located primarily in four ridings: Lévis—Bellechasse, Mégantic—L'Érable, Beauce and my riding, Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière. Coincidentally, these are four Conservative ridings. This demonstrates how concrete things can be done in our ridings when the focus is placed on economic development.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct some of the facts that the parliamentary secretary spoke to earlier.

He talked about the New Democrats being against foreign investment and I need to correct him on that. We are not against foreign investment. We support the right type of foreign investment, unlike the Conservative government which supports blind corporate tax giveaways and foreign investment that does not create Canadian jobs.

We on this side of the House brought forward a motion in the last Parliament, which the whole House supported, in which we stated that we needed to see changes to the Investment Canada Act. We just need to look at what happened at potash in my community of Sudbury where Inco was taken over by Vale, Xstrata, all of those things.

We need to change the Investment Canada Act and that is what we are talking about now. Unfortunately, the Conservatives cannot see their own ideology of giving away billions of dollars to corporations that do not create Canadian jobs.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my colleague that during the global crisis in 2009, he undoubtedly voted against our government's initiative to help all Canadians, and that in last June's budget, he once again voted against this government's initiative concerning the second phase of Canada's economic action plan. We, on this side of the House, have nothing to learn from those members.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Cape Breton—Canso.

The citizens of London, Ontario, are hurting this week in the wake of Caterpillar shuttering the Electro-Motive Diesel plant, throwing 450 out of work in an economy where we found out at the same time that unemployment is up over last month to 7.6%, now approaching American levels of unemployment. This is a major blow to London and southwestern Ontario, an area of the country particularly reliant on the manufacturing sector and one that was particularly hard hit by the economic downturn, losing 250,000 good paying, full-time jobs during the course of the recession.

Workers at EMD started the new year to the news that they were locked out of their jobs. Caterpillar drew their line in the sand at a savage 50% cut in salary and benefit reduction. They shut the doors to the plant, locking out 450 workers and not a peep was heard from the Conservative government. The Prime Minister was willing to use it as a backdrop for an election announcement, but it would seem that, as soon as he pulled out of that station, he was more than willing to leave the London workers tied to the tracks.

When the employees at the factory needed help, he was nowhere to be seen, nor were his members or ministers. It is not that the company was losing money. Days before, it had posted record profits in the United States. Yes, it is true that EMD was not a Canadian company. Over the years, it changed hands and was an American company bought by an American company. While we may not have lost a Canadian company, we certainly lost Canadian jobs, contributing further to the declining manufacturing job numbers, which are down 2.5% from January 2011.

Commentators, like Postmedia columnist, Andrew Coyne, have argued that $16.50 an hour may not be $34 an hour but that it sure beats zero. On the face of that argument, he is correct and I imagine that he is not alone in that opinion. However, it is an argument that only someone who is gainfully employed can make. It is a truly difficult task for him or I for that matter to put ourselves in the shoes of the welder or assembler who works for a living, makes a budget in order to pay the mortgage on a home, makes car payments, buys groceries, pays for braces, soccer and university tuition, and maybe at the end of a paycheque can save a buck or two for a pension. That, coincidentally, the Conservative government is set to claw back.

Most Canadians do not need to wonder from day to day whether they will receive their full salaries. They can bank on it, make priorities and live their lives.

These are events that traumatize families and their children and the communities in which they live, and we must stop looking at them like statistics. We either decide to do nothing about them and hope to manage the rise and fall of what some dismiss as a few percentage points here and there, like the current government, treating families out of work like numbers to be moved around on a board, or we draft meaningful legislation and regulations to ensure that investment in Canada by foreign companies is sustainable and truly in the net best interests of Canadians.

Caterpillar went into the negotiations without any intention of conceding more than the severe cuts it was offering. It is very hard to believe that when it locked employees out of the plan on January 1, it was willing to ever open up those doors again, except to crate up the machinery and ship it south, despite assurances to the union that the company was not looking to move its jobs south. As soon as it was sure there would be no concerns of union resistance in Indiana, London was closed and it was gone.

In a January 17 editorial in Indiana's Muncie Star Press, the paper wrote, “London’s loss could be our gain, but we’ll take the jobs”. In fact, over the past few days and heading into the coming weeks, Progress Rail is holding job fairs in and around the Muncie area in order to replace the London jobs in its new factory. The Conservative government had three weeks after this editorial to do something, anything, to keep the jobs in Canada but it sat on its hands and watched the company walk out the door.

The Prime Minister claims, and his members parrot, that the Conservatives' number one priority is the economy, but with the closure of EMD and Papiers White Birch, I cannot help wonder whose economy. The Conservatives talk about the other parties being bad for job creation but they cannot back it up with anything except evidence that jobs are driving into Canada and then driving right back out, leaving communities in shambles.

If this were a new happening, we might be surprised, but the government watched as Stelco and Alcan wound down after a foreign purchase and stood idly by as Vale Inco laid off workers in Sudbury.

Members opposite might yet stand and argue that they stopped the sale of the potash corporation, but I feel it necessary to remind them that it was only after such a vocal backlash from the residents, the premier of Saskatchewan and Canadians across this country.

It was said at that time, and it is true now, that the Investment Canada Act, as it currently stands, does not give Canadians the confidence that their best interests will be served. It needs to be re-examined and modified so that there is a reporting requirement on the government rationale for approval or disapproval of a sale, as well as for the public disclosure of the commitments made by the purchasing company, be it jobs or investments. This public disclosure is necessary for accountability and enforcement of these measures to the benefit of the community where the purchase is taking place. This also works so that we know what concessions we have made on our resources.

We can take Sinopec and its investment in Syncrude, which gives them the ability to restrict the refining and processing of crude oil in Canada. A clause in its own contract allows a company owned by a foreign government to take jobs away from Canadians on a whim.

We are selling ourselves out because the government is not investing in our own jobs and it is standing back while other countries do it for it. Canadians want their country back. If the government wants to stand behind its mantra of hundreds of thousands of jobs created since the recession, Canadians must be reminded that these are part-time jobs, low wage full-time jobs or contract jobs. The members opposite should be reminded that they are more than welcome to try working and raising a family on that type of income. Otherwise, they will have to come to terms sooner rather than later with the fact that underemployment is unsustainable, as is their particularly laissez-faire approach to foreign investment and lack of real strategy on innovation.

Where is the government's strategy on foreign investment in Canada? Will it draw the line at all between investment and outright domination and expropriation?

Canada welcomes foreign investment but, presently, at what cost? We are walking into an unhealthy reliance on a branch plant economy, leaving us, especially southwestern Ontario, vulnerable to openings and closings.

The government is not standing up for jobs in Canada. Pilots in my riding have called and written to me to say that they and other airline employees, like the postal workers before them, are stuck between a rock and a hard place as they are being forced to take whatever deal is offered, facing the likelihood that they will only get a worse deal if the issue winds up in this House.

The Conservative government is not standing up for workers. By consistently ignoring opportunities to invest in green jobs and green technology, it is not just jobs right now that the Conservatives are falling behind on but jobs of the future .

A year and a half ago, I attended the opening of Canadian Solar Inc., an internationally recognized leader in the production of solar modules at its plant in Guelph, Ontario. Representatives from the City of Guelph and the Province of Ontario, who had invested in the program, were there and yet the Conservatives were nowhere to be found.

The business expenditure on research and development is but 1% of GDP, having dropped by almost half of what it was before the election of the Conservative administration, while the average business investment in research and development in the 34 OECD countries is 1.6%.

Concern has been expressed to me, not only by manufacturers but by those in the agricultural industry, that the government is only paying lip service to the challenges facing research, development and innovation. Band-aid and one-off solutions instead of a coherent plan to reach OECD levels do not provide the incentives we need to grow and develop companies here in Canada and to keep companies here in Canada, causing us to lag behind our competitors and leaving many forced to work the jobs that whistle-stop into Canada and disappear almost as soon.

I want my children to grow up and have the opportunity to work in Guelph. They should not be forced to trek west to work in the oil patch or to go south like so many researchers, nor should they be forced to work a job they are overqualified for in order to make ends meet. I do not want them to watch as factory doors close because the parent company from another country can get the labour cheaper somewhere else and likely union free.

Our economy is bleeding and the Conservative government is barely applying pressure to the wound. If it does not act soon, we will no doubt see more Electro-Motive Diesels walk out of our country, leaving nothing in their wake.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I came to this place from the private sector, it felt as though I had stepped into a time warp. It feels like it is 1988 all over again when we talked about the free trade agreement and how it would result in job losses to the United States.

I want to correct the member on a couple of issues. He said that most of the jobs created since July 2009 had been part-time and low paying jobs. According to Statistics Canada, about 539,000 of the new jobs created were in high wage industries and about 570,000 were full-time jobs. Those are pretty good numbers.

What are the thoughts of the hon. member on the benefits of free trade? Is he for or against free trade with our trading partners in the U.S.?