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

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for Kingston and the Islands when he concurred that this was a tragedy for all of those affected. That is absolutely the truth.

When he talks about the issue of the foreign investment review, it is interesting that it is something that does get reviewed on a very consistent and regular basis in terms of limits. The first issue is that this was a sale from one American company to another. The second issue is that it did not meet the financial thresholds. When we get to that stage, no matter what we might even try to consider doing today, it would not help those workers in London, Ontario, whether they be direct employees of EMD or otherwise.

Our Foreign Investment Act does handle this issue reasonably responsibly. All we need to do is look back and note that we have, certainly on a couple of occasions in the last year, turned down some applications because we did not believe they were in the best interests of Canada.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

London North Centre
Ontario

Conservative

Susan Truppe Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. members from both sides of the House join me in expressing disappointment that operations at London's Electro-Motive Diesel have ended. My heart goes out to all those affected, especially the families and the workers.

However, my constituents, all Londoners and all Canadians deserve the facts. Our government never gave a tax break to Caterpillar. Rather, it was a capital cost allowance increase for the entire locomotive industry, an increase that all parties, including the NDP, supported at committee.

I am proud to be a Londoner and I have stood in this House on numerous occasions to point out the many achievements of organizations and businesses in my community and will continue to do so. However, I must say that I am exceptionally disappointed by the actions of the opposition, particularly the NDP member for London—Fanshawe. We on this side of the House take real action to sustain and create jobs in our community and strengthen our city's economy. Time and time again, the opposition has provided empty rhetoric aimed at tarnishing the achievements of businesses and organizations in my great city of London, Ontario.

Throughout today's debate, we have discussed investment policies and other factors that have an impact on the Canadian economy. However, I find it strange and unfortunate that the NDP has no apparent interest in the economic performance of this country and my city of London. Any discussion we might have about job creation in London and across Canada would benefit from evidence showing how federal investments have been working. Actions, not empty rhetoric, are the solution.

In August, I was pleased to participate via teleconference in a job summit hosted by the mayor of the city of London, the job summit that the NDP member for London—Fanshawe did not attend. This summit brought together political representatives from all three levels of government, businesses and other stakeholders from across the city to discuss how together we can strengthen economic growth in our city.

Recently, Statistics Canada reported that London's unemployment rate dropped almost an entire percentage point, creating 1,000 new jobs in our city during the month of January. Nationally, some 610,000 more Canadians are working today than when the recession ended, resulting in the strongest rate of employment growth by far among the G7 countries.

Since being elected to represent my constituents of London North Centre, I have been pleased to deliver nearly $20 million in federal investments to businesses and organizations in my riding. It is a shame that the member for London—Fanshawe fails to acknowledge the millions of dollars in investments our government has made in Western University located right in the heart of London North Centre.

What do these investments mean for businesses and institutions in our city? Ted Hewitt, former vice-president of research at Western University, had this to say:

By providing researchers with the tools they need to develop innovative ideas, treatments and technologies that benefit us at home, we are able to continue to enhance--

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to correct something that has been said in the House. The member opposite said that there was an economic teleconference with the mayor of London and I did not attend. What she failed to say was that I was out of the country and that I sent a staff person to that conference.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

That is not a point of order, that is a point of debate.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

February 9th, 2012 / 12:40 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was out of the country and two days before the conference I received information that there was going to be one so I directed my staff to attend. I cannot return on a dime from an overseas trip to accommodate a last minute conference. I want the member to apologize--

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order please. Resuming debate. The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will finish reading the quote that I started:

--the country’s research reputation on the global stage.

Our government has supported London's arts community by investing $30,000 in London's renowned TD Sunfest, $15,000 for London's Heritage Council Doors Open London program, and $25,000 for the London Fringe Festival.

Our government has invested in seniors and the disabled in my riding of London North Centre and all Londoners by investing $3.2 million in the centretown project. This initiative will create jobs for Londoners and offer 72 affordable housing units for low income seniors and the disabled.

Our government has supported job creation for London's youth by investing nearly $500,000 in job skills programs at Youth Opportunities Unlimited, $471,000 for a job skills program at Leeds Employment Services, and $17,220 for a job skills program at London's Pathways Skill Development & Placement Centre. All of these excellent organizations are located in my riding of London North Centre.

Londoners are hard at work in almost every aspect of everyday life of Canadians and those living abroad.

In October, Quantum5X Systems, a fantastic small business in my riding, received a federal grant of $50,000. What has it done? Recently it signed a contract with the National Basketball Association for the utilization of wireless microphone technology developed by Londoners to mic up players in the league.

I recently visited a remarkable small business in my riding, Voices.com. Voices.com is an innovative technology firm that recently developed an app that will allow toddlers to learn the alphabet in a fun and exciting way.

I also was pleased to recently visit a dynamic tech company in my riding, Big Viking Games. Founded in 2011, Big Viking Games was the result of a shared desire to create “audacious awesome-sause and epic ridiculousness on Facebook & Mobile platforms”.

Synergy Manufacturing, a small business in my riding that manufactures windows for homes and businesses, has doubled its employment numbers thanks to our government's economic action plan.

McCormick Canada, located in London, produces 100,000 pounds of honey.

Londoners working at the Labatt brewery company in my riding of London North Centre produce 1,029 bottles and cans of beer every minute.

New York City will have 2.5 billion gallons of safe, clean water thanks to London's Trojan Technologies.

Employees of London's Brose Canada ensure one in three cars are safer and more efficient.

Two thousand tonnes of CO2 will not be in the air we breathe tomorrow thanks to the 100 new jobs created for Londoners at the London plant of the German Solar Corporation, KACO new energy, Inc.

Billions of dollars are traded on the New York Stock Exchange thanks in part to the design team at London's Cyborg Trading Systems. There is a number one best selling app for that created by the designers at the Big Blue Bubble Inc.

When it came time for the opposition to take real action by supporting our government's investment in Londoners and all Canadians, it said no. What exactly did the opposition say no to? It said no to extending work sharing agreements by up to 16 weeks so that companies could avoid layoffs. Since February 2009, work sharing has protected 300,000 jobs.

The opposition said no to extending the targeted initiative for older workers to support training and employment programs for older workers who have invaluable knowledge and potential. This initiative has helped over 10,000 Canadians since 2007.

The opposition said no to the arts community by opposing the children's tax credit, which delivers up to $500 for parents across the country who enrol their children in arts, cultural, recreational and development activities.

The opposition said no to our government's new family caregiver tax credit, which provides $2,000 for caregivers of all types of infirm dependent relatives, including, for the first time, spouses, common-law partners and minor children.

The opposition said no to the hiring tax credit for small businesses, which provides a one year EI break for 525,000 small businesses across the country, reducing payroll costs for new jobs and encouraging hiring.

Since we introduced Canada's economic action plan to respond to the global recession, Canada has recovered more than all of the output lost during the recession. What did the opposition say to this? It said no.

Where was the NDP when thousands of unionized workers across the province of Ontario were negatively impacted by the dreadful social contract the Ontario NDP government introduced in the early nineties? Where was the NDP when the disastrous Ontario NDP government caused Ontario's economy to take a nosedive in the early nineties? That party was saying no to Ontarians with an all-time high tax reckless plan that cost our province thousands of jobs.

Do members want to hear some irony? The author of this motion, the NDP member for London—Fanshawe, was a cabinet minister in that disastrous Ontario NDP government.

When the doors closed at EMD it was a sad day for London, a sad day for Ontario and a sad day for Canada.

However, today's NDP motion is empty rhetoric. While the opposition continually says no to Canadians, our Conservative government has stood up, and will continue to stand up, for Canadians by taking real action to create and sustain jobs, strengthen our economy and provide a low tax environment. Canadians deserve real action. That is exactly what our government has done and will continue to do.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, we said no to $60 billion in corporate tax cuts to profitable corporations that did not create a single job. Those corporations are sitting on $83 billion in capital without making any investments into Canada with respect to workers, training or equipment. Taxpayers make investments in these corporations, but these corporations are not investing back.

With respect to these important businesses that the member referenced, if a company from the United States tried to undermine those businesses by buying them and disenfranchising their workers, would she indeed make a fuss? Would she indeed step up to the plate to make sure that the workers and businesses were protected? Or would she, like the government, fail to support the workers of this country?

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, like most Canadians, we understand that international trade is a kitchen table issue. It is a matter of fundamental importance to the financial security of hard-working Canadians and their families. After all, trade accounts for 60% of our annual GDP. One in five Canadian jobs is generated by trade. The benefits to Canadian families are clear. When we trade, prices for goods and services go down, wages, salaries and our standard of living go up. Businesses are able to hire more workers. Foreign investment creates jobs.

In addition to lower prices, trade also benefits families by providing more choice for goods and services.

Right now we are building better trade relations between China and Canada. Our government is committed to securing and deepening access to traditional markets, such as the United States, while expanding access to markets such as the European Union, Brazil and the rest of the Americas.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is almost like that old shtick by Johnny Carson of the great Houdini who had the answer to the question before he knew what the question was all about so that we could read that answer. It is a great shtick. It worked for Johnny for years.

I do not think for one minute that any Conservative takes a great deal of joy in seeing people put out of work. I thought that the intervention by my friend from London West was an insightful and fair presentation which gave his side of this particular situation.

However, after listening to the last speaker, it is apparent that this debate has just morphed into a political partisan attack. With respect to the impact on the community of London and those workers, the purpose of today's debate should be about what the Government of Canada can do to make sure that an American multinational company does not trade its operation here in Canada, act like a bunch of thugs and leave the country. I do not see what a partisan attack like that contributes to this particular debate.

Although I am sure the member has a prepared answer for this question because she knew what the question would be, I would ask other members of the government to try to contribute something to this debate for the good of Canadian workers.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the member is concerned about partisan rhetoric occurring in the House.

It was not a foreign takeover. Our government will continue to support foreign investment. It builds jobs and stimulates the economy.

I will quote Andrew Coyne, who wrote an article recently in the National Post, because we keep hearing that it is the government's fault and that we could have done something.

He stated:

EMD is not a Canadian company and never was. Caterpillar bought it from a pair of American private equity firms in 2010; they bought it from General Motors in 2005, who bought it from its Ohio-based founders in 1930... Caterpillar didn't buy the London plant. It bought the whole company... EMD never received any subsidies from the federal government; certainly not since Caterpillar bought it. Indeed, looking through the hundreds of pages of “grants and contribution” in the Public Accounts, it may be the only company in the country that didn't.

The Harper visit... was to promote a tax break for the purchasers of locomotives, not the manufacturers. The visit occurred in 2008, two years before the Caterpillar purchase.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I would encourage all hon. members not to reference other members of the House by their names but by their title or riding.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for York South—Weston.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Compton—Stanstead.

My heart goes out to the workers of the EMD factory. It is never ever easy when massive layoffs take place, in particular at a technologically advanced modern facility. It is one thing for a factory to close when it has old equipment or there are better competitors in the field. However, for a factory to close that has one of the most modern production facilities in the world beggars belief. It makes it very difficult to believe that this was not the plan all along.

This company has a myriad of patents on this equipment. They are worldwide patents. Nobody can build what it builds. It is against the law in most countries where these patents exist for anybody to copy this equipment. There are significant environment regulations about to hit North America that require railroad manufacturers and operators to make their engines cleaner, and ships at sea as well.

This company was on the leading edge of that technology. It was the only company that was going to produce this equipment efficiently, so that operators would not use a urea spray system to clean the air as it escapes. This means rail operators would not have to carry along a tank of urea. This company was on the verge of perfecting that technology. It is a crying shame that the technology and the patents have left Canada. Apparently the equipment is going to leave Canada, too. The expertise and the workers are disposable and have been shelved. The workers will be left to the devices of the EI system. People hope EI offices will not be closing in London soon because a lot of people are going to need them.

There is a United States connection to this disaster as well. President Obama has done what the Conservative government refuses to do. He has insisted that public money in the United States designated for public projects goes to American companies. That is not the case in Canada. There is a lot of public money being spent by all levels of government. However, it is only at the provincial level that there is any requirement whatsoever that the money be spent on workers in Canada.

The Province of Ontario currently has a 25% regulation. If it spends money on public transit projects, it has to spend 25% of the money in Canada on Canadian workers. That is not the case federally. The federal government spends an awful lot of money, though not as much as it should, on public transit projects in this country. Yet it does not guarantee that a nickel of it will be spent on Canadian workers. In fact, it encourages companies that operate in Korea and China to bid on those projects. The government hopes those companies get the projects because Conservatives think taxpayers benefit from cheap labour. The taxpayers are also the workers in London and they did not benefit by the notion of cheap labour.

In the U.S. there is a huge Amtrak order coming. Of course, if EMD wants to access that order, it will have to build the trains in the U.S. because of the U.S. protectionist stance. There is no such stance in Canada. It was easy to close the plant because Canada did not have to worry about whether federal money had any link whatsoever to Canadian jobs.

The folks who actually earned the benefit of that capital cost allowance, the $5 million that flowed through to orders to EMD, are in the process of renewing their entire fleet. CP is re-powering its older fleet of hundreds of engines. CN will follow shortly. GO Transit and VIA Rail will follow because those fleets are not environmentally sound.

They have signed a memorandum of agreement with the Minister of the Environment to re-power their fleets with more environmentally friendly fleets. Now they cannot have the work done in Canada. The plant is closed and they have to go to the United States. They will still get the capital cost allowance, the tax benefit to the Canadian owners is still there, but they will now have to buy that equipment in the United States because we did nothing about stopping it.

GO Transit, a provincially regulated, owned and operated heavy commuter rail system currently has 57 engines pulling its trains around Toronto. It is in the process of ordering many more because commuter rail is expanding in Toronto, in part with federal money. Every single one of those 57 original engines was built at the EMD plant. The shell was built elsewhere for some of them, but every one of those engines was built in London.

Now those workers can look as the money flows out from GO Transit. Every one of those engines has to be rebuilt within the next 10 years. Every dollar will now go to Muncie, Indiana or somewhere else in the United States where there is another manufacturer, because they cannot be purchased in Canada. Why not? Because the only plant that built locomotive engines in Canada has now closed.

There is no reason for this to happen. Ontario has a 25% buy Ontario policy. There is no equivalent buy Canada policy from the Conservative government because it prefers that the taxpayer be protected by being able to buy in China, Korea, or in this case, the United States. GO Transit is going to refurbish all of those locomotives very soon. It was looking at EMD because it was at the leading edge of companies providing the environmental protection that GO Transit has been ordered to provide by the minister of the environment in Ontario. Now it cannot do that.

The Province of Ontario has an air-rail link, a train from the airport. It uses diesel engines bought in Japan. Why? Because it said there was no manufacturer in Ontario. The Liberal premier of Ontario said, “we are going to waive our buy Ontario policy because there is no plant in Ontario that could build that”. There is, but there is some other business going on.

When GO Transit has to buy another 57 engines, the Province of Ontario will be able to say the plant is gone, so feel free to buy anywhere. If GO Transit has to buy from EMD because it has the best technology, then the workers in Muncie, Indiana making $16 an hour will be the ones to get the benefit of tens, probably hundreds of millions of dollars of our taxpayer money.

That is wrong. We have done a disservice to the whole transportation sector in this country. We had one of the best employers in the world, building the best engines in the world, at the leading edge of the best technology in the world. That employer has now gone.

CN and CP are Canadian companies and get the capital cost allowance. I do not know if VIA and GO get the capital cost allowance. Those companies now have to go elsewhere. The capital cost allowance does not generate a single Canadian job.

One of the speakers earlier suggested that EMD did not get a single tax break from the government. I did not realize that there was a clause in the $60 billion reduction in corporate taxes that said EMD is exempt from this reduction. I think it did get a pretty tax break, but now it has left the country.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I support this motion to amend the Investment Canada Act to ensure that foreign buyers are held to public and enforceable commitments on the net benefit to Canada and on the protection of Canadian jobs.

I support this motion because Rio Tinto Alcan ruthlessly locked out its employees in my region on December 31, 2011—New Year's Eve. Alcan was a jewel of Quebec and Canadian industry, but it was bought by Rio Tinto, an Australian-British company, and the corporate culture has changed a lot since then. Alcan used to have a lot more respect for its employees; that is not so these days. We saw that during collective bargaining, when the company did not want to make any concessions, and we saw it in the way it treated its employees.

Does my colleague agree that we have to amend the Investment Canada Act to resolve the problem the act currently creates?

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. If the Investment Canada Act had been strengthened, we would not see the demise of Electro-Motive Diesel and we would not be facing the possible problems in the member's riding with Rio Tinto.

This benefit to Canada is a no-brainer. It should be automatic. We should automatically be in a position where any time a foreign buyer wants to buy our stuff that creates jobs in this country, it should be automatic for the government to say, “Only if there is a benefit to Canada”. The size should not matter. The current government does not have that way of thinking. We in the NDP do.