House of Commons Hansard #214 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Language Skills Act
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Language Skills Act
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, February 27, 2013, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Foreign Investment
Adjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance tonight to follow up on a question I asked before Christmas concerning the takeover of Nexen by the Chinese company, CNOOC. That has actually happened. CNOOC officially took over Nexen on Monday. As we know, it was a $15.1 billion deal, and it was very controversial in Canada. There was a lot of interest in that deal, and it was finally completed on Monday. It is China's largest foreign acquisition ever.

We know the deal generated a great deal of discussion and debate over how much foreign state-owned control there ought to be of industries in Canada, for example, in the oil and gas sector, which is what Nexen is in, and particularly how much foreign state-owned control of our resources in Canada is acceptable. A lot of people felt very strongly about that issue, and they still do.

Although the deal is done now, it does not mean the debate is over. The debate certainly continues. Many Canadians are still concerned about the lack of clarity from the government in terms of how it is going to decide in the future on proposals to take over Canadian companies.

There really is a need for greater clarity on investment issues like this, which impact billions of dollars in investments. They affect our economy, and they affect thousands of Canadian jobs, as we have seen in the Nexen case and others.

The Conservative government's “make it up as it goes approach” is really not acceptable to most Canadians. While Canada must remain open for business, we should not be for sale. Canadians want to have clarity about our foreign investment policy. They do not want a minister who makes decisions late on a Friday night after having some sort of seance or using a Ouija board, or whatever it is. The decision on Petronas came at almost midnight. Canadians do not want decisions made by a Prime Minister who decides on a whim.

The Conservatives have promised for years to bring greater clarity and transparency to this process of reviewing foreign investments, but like so many other issues they have failed to deliver. I think Canadians are disappointed by their performance on issues like this.

That is why the Liberal Party continues to call for more clarity on what constitutes the net benefit test, which is the test that any proposed transition has to meet under the Investment Canada Act. It also calls for greater transparency regarding the issues that are being discussed between the companies and the government. The government could at least tell us a little about that. There should be disclosure of any conditions that are attached to proposed deals. We do not have any idea because the government has not told us what conditions they imposed on CNOOC. What kind of transparency is that from a government that has been promising it for years? It does not make much sense.

We need stronger enforcement mechanisms to make sure the conditions that are imposed are lived up to. We need a clear role for affected provincial governments. We need specific ways in which the public can actually have a chance to express their views. We do not have those things.

I think this shows how confused the Conservatives are when it comes to this foreign investment file. Today the Minister of Industry was in Spain speaking on foreign investment, asking for people to come and invest in our wireless sector. He is basically admitting what a mess he has made of that sector, and what a mess he has made with the spectrum auction rules. We have seen no interest from any small companies in becoming the kind of big companies that could compete and create a better, more competitive system in Canada for wireless.

Foreign Investment
Adjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party and I welcome him to the file. I thank him for his interest in international trade and in particular for his interest in foreign investment in Canada, something very important for the future of our country, and in particular the CNOOC-Nexen deal, which certainly did raise a lot of interest. I think the government handled it as well as any government could.

We look at foreign investment with a different opinion, quite frankly, than the former Liberal government had during the hon. member's time in government. Not one single foreign investment deal was turned down by the Liberal government. That is certainly not the record of the Conservative government.

I know my hon. colleague follows politics, but he got a little mixed up on the Ouija board, because that was actually Mackenzie King. When he was not using the Ouija board, he was talking to his dog, which was another Liberal Prime Minister.

In all seriousness, foreign investment in Canada is important. It is important to the future of the country. It is important that we do it correctly. I disagree with the hon. member's opinion on whether or not we are doing it correctly.

I want to talk a little about Canadian opportunities for growth, expansion and foreign investment. Much of that investment will come from China or from the Asia-Pacific Rim, and it certainly would be the wrong signal to send if we turned that investment away with the first big deal that China was going to make.

The other issue the hon. member wants to ignore is the fact that we have managed to sign a FIPA with China, one of 24 FIPAs that we have signed. That is something his government was not able to do in its time in office and something we were able to do to protect Canadian investment in China and give our companies the same rules and the same protections that Chinese investors automatically have in Canada. We have a clear set of rules for investment in both directions.

That is just with China. We have 23 other FIPAs with other countries to make sure Canadian investment abroad is protected and to encourage a clear set of ground rules for investment in Canada. To back that up, we have the Investment Canada Act.

The rules are clear, but we need to look at the opportunity not only for Chinese investment in Canada, but for Canadians investing in China. Canadian goods and exports rose by 15% last year to $19 billion. Not only that: our exports to China have nearly doubled under our Conservative government. A 15% increase in exports to any one country is tremendous. It is a huge asset to our workers and our manufacturers, and there are tax dollars generated through that trade.

We are looking at dynamic, high-growth markets, not just in China, but in other countries—in India, all the BRIC nations and the Pacific Rim countries, the mature economies like Japan and the growing economies like Vietnam, as well as other mature economies like South Korea and other growing economies like Indonesia and those countries that will continue to grow and continue to offer opportunity for Canadian businesses.

Foreign Investment
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for his comments and his welcome to the file, although I am sure he recognizes that the file of CNOOC-Nexen was not handled by the Minister of International Trade but was in the hands of the Minister of Industry.

I presume that this evening, as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of International Trade, he is here because his colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, is perhaps not available, and that happens sometimes. I have had that experience myself, as a matter of fact.

I am not surprised that he had quite a bit to say about trade, and that is fine, but I notice he did not really respond to the concerns about the net benefit test, for example, and the government's commitment in repeatedly promising to reform or change the Investment Canada Act, its commitment to revise and clarify it to provide greater transparency to all this.

He talked about a different approach from the one the Liberal government took. Maybe he could tell me in the minute he has to respond to my comments which of the deals that were approved during the time of the Liberal government with Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin had half the public interest or comment as the potash deal or the CNOOC deal, and which of them the Conservative Party or the Reform Party opposed.

Foreign Investment
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, perhaps my hon. colleague is correct in that at least one of us is responding to the wrong question, but the question that was on the order paper was on the FIPA, not on the CNOOC-Nexen deal. Therefore, I answered part of his question on CNOOC-Nexen just to set the record straight. However, the order paper question was on the FIPA.

The FIPA with China is important for the future of the country. It is tremendously important for our relationship with China, this huge emerging economy that is going to be a marketplace for Canadian exports and for manufactured goods, for raw materials and for resources. This is a tremendous opportunity.

I appreciate that the hon. member is not suggesting we should not trade with China because the New Democrats suggest that very thing. They look at China with its huge population and tremendous demand for resources and some of the largest reserves of foreign currency in the world and say that we should not trade with it, which is absolutely wrong. At least my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party understands that trade is important.

Canadian Heritage
Adjournment Proceedings

February 26th, 2013 / 7:15 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to come back to the question I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage. I wanted to know whether or not an important museum in my riding, Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum, would be given the status it deserves as a national Canadian museum. In response to my question, the parliamentary secretary gave some vague explanation that the Canadian government supports museums, and so on.

I would like to take this opportunity today to ask the government again if Exporail will be given the status it deserves and recognition as a national Canadian museum.

There are a number of reasons for giving Exporail the status I am asking for today, and there was even a motion to that effect a number of years ago. Exporail focuses on protecting and promoting our railway heritage. It is vital that we recognize Exporail in order to ensure the sustainability of its collection. This museum is responsible for preserving the Canadian Railroad Historical Association's collection of national interest.

It is important to note that Exporail is the largest railway museum in Canada and that, in the opinion of many museum professionals, it is one of the best museums in the world, if not the best. On July 21, 2011, Exporail celebrated its 50th anniversary, which coincided with the 175th anniversary of the advent of Canada's first public railway between Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and La Prairie 177 years ago now. This was the first public railway in Canada.

In order to ensure the long-term survival of Exporail's collection and the museum's participation in the festivities surrounding the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, it is vital that it be designated a national museum as soon as possible. That way, Exporail can make a significant contribution to this happy event planned for 2017. Such a designation will also show that Canada recognizes the railway's historic contribution to our country in a more official capacity. I would like to remind the government that the construction of a railway from one ocean to the other was one of the conditions on which a number of provinces joined the Canadian federation.

This is not the first time that this issue has been raised in this chamber since, on February 27, 2007, the House voted in favour of a motion to recognize Exporail as a national museum. Unfortunately, the government did not follow through and, in the months that followed, it contacted Exporail's management to say that it did not have the budget required and that it did not want to set a precedent by designating a museum outside the nation's capital as a national museum. However, a few months later, the government designated two other museums—the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg and the Canadian Museum of Immigration in Halifax—as national museums.

I mentioned a few items that we, as parliamentarians, must follow up on, and we must recognize Exporail as a national museum.

Canadian Heritage
Adjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I cannot say how excited I am to hear my colleague talk about celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary in his remarks. We have known that since the government decided it was going to make 150 a turning point, one of those times when we could celebrate all the people, places and things that have helped make our country spectacular, the NDP has been against almost everything that we have said in that vein. We talked about celebrating events such as the War of 1812. The NDP said that it was something we should not be celebrating.

When we talk about Exporail, here is the good news. I am even more excited to hear that the member wants to make Exporail part of a national museum because we recently announced the new museum of Canadian history. This was a $25 million investment that we were making in helping Canadians better understand their history. It was going to help repurpose the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Part of that is an opportunity for museums across the country, including the Exporail, to become part of Canada's national museum, part of that structure.

We heard, unfortunately, that the NDP has already said that it will not support the new museum of Canadian history, that it thought it was a waste of time. I hope the hon. member will do what he says he wants to do, work with us, work with his colleagues to help him understand how important it is to create a national Canadian museum of history network across the country, which could include Exporail, should it choose to come on board to this very important initiative.

He also mentioned some of the other things we did. He is quite correct. We have brought in two new national museums. One is the Museum of Immigration, Pier 21, in Halifax, which is a spectacular new museum. It was a great investment and we are very proud of that. The Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg is another great museum.

We increased funding for our national museums and through our economic action plan we have actually stabilized and have ensured that the funding is guaranteed going forward.

It is not just in our museums; it is across heritage. The Minister of Canadian Heritage has done some spectacular work in helping promote arts and culture across the country. We have made very important investments because we understand on this side how important it is to invest in arts and culture. It is an important economic driver in our country. It is responsible for thousands of jobs and a lot of economic activity.

Therefore, I am really excited to hear how important the member thinks Exporail is to his community, and it is. It is very important that we work to help people understand Canadian history. We can also work through the Museum of Science and Technology, which also has a responsibility in helping preserve our rail history.

Ultimately, I hope he will work with us, support the new museum of Canadian history, support that $25 million investment and ensure that Exporail becomes part of the national museum network. He is saying that he thinks that would be important for Exporail. It would be a good idea. I encourage Exporail and the member to work with us to ensure it becomes part of that network.

Canadian Heritage
Adjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to some of the comments made by my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Each time I hear a Conservative MP or a member of the government say that the NDP never supports government measures, I want to laugh. The measures the Conservatives are talking about are always hidden in a budget or in omnibus bills. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage to know that the NDP is not opposed to all of the measures mentioned by the Conservatives, when these are taken separately, but it does oppose them when they are taken as a package. I am a little disappointed to hear these same comments over and over.

In point of fact, the government spent $55 million to commemorate the War of 1812. An important battle of this war was fought along the shores of the Châteauguay River in my riding. Several historians in my riding claimed that this battle was merely a minor skirmish and that the government twisted history to praise the war. That is deplorable.

Let me say again that the House of Commons supported a motion recognizing Exporail and awarding it the status of a national museum. That is all I have to say. I am asking once again that it be awarded this status. It deserves it and it is important to my community.

Canadian Heritage
Adjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is clear to me that the hon. member is troubled by the fact that he has to vote against so many great initiatives that this government brings forward in our budgets and economic action plans, and I get that. There have been very many good things in the economic action plans when it comes to arts and culture, creating jobs and investing in communities, and I can understand why he would be troubled and upset that he is forced by his whip and his leader to vote against those things.

Here is a different initiative. If the member does not like the budgets, here is the new museum of Canadian history with a $25 million investment that will encourage museums across this country to become part of the national museum network celebrating Canadian history. It is a stand-alone bill, a $25 million investment that will obviously do good things for Exporail in his community. If he really supports that, I hope he will do what his leader and the critic has said and vote with us and not against us, as they have already said they would do.

I understand how upset the member has been. Here is his opportunity to do what the rest of his party will not do: support arts and culture, support his local museum, vote in favour of this bill, vote in favour of that $25 million investment and let all Canadians share in Exporail.

Canadian Heritage
Adjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:29 p.m.)