Evidence of meeting #65 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was patent.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Stephen Susalka  Chief Executive Officer, Association of University Technology Managers
Kenneth Porter  Vice-President, Intellectual Property Management, Innovate Calgary
James Hinton  Intellectual Property Lawyer, Bereskin & Parr LLP, Advisor, Council of Canadian Innovators, As an Individual
André Léonard  Committee Researcher

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Thanks very much.

Lloyd's logic is completely wrong.

I was on the veterans affairs committee for many years. The Liberals were in opposition. I can remember when Peter Stoffer was in opposition and all they did was question the decisions that public servants had made, and I was along with him questioning the decisions they had made. We're just talking about a different department and the decisions they make. That is your job as a member of Parliament, in my opinion.

Yes, I agree that they can't tell us all the details and dotted lines to all the different companies, because that would be under their non-disclosure agreement. However, we can question the officials on how they are satisfied with their decisions on whether or not this is a state-owned enterprise and on how the department ascertains that. That is completely within our realm as committee members, and they're not giving away any secrets about how they do that.

The other thing that's interesting is the question how it is that this company has basically backed off any acquisitions in the United States but was able to conclude one here in Canada. Again we can't get the specifics, but maybe the department can help us understand how they look at this.

I'm quite happy with Brian's amendment. It's fine. We're trying to deal with a serious issue, which is companies that try to maintain that they're a private company or whatever they want to describe themselves as, but quite likely, when you look at all the dotted lines, are owned in part by the Chinese government.

The vulnerability this leaves us with is that when the banks—whether it's the government or a bank that's run by the government, however the enterprise is set up—decide they need their money back, they want their money back. We've seen examples of that in the United States as well, in which the Chinese want their money back. I think they're having to go to get money from Russia or other countries; I don't know where they're getting their financing from.

These are the problems, and especially in this case we cannot leave people who are in nursing homes high and dry because China decides they can deploy their capital somewhere else and get a better rate of return. When we're talking about health care and about some very murky ownership structures, that is the job of this committee. I'll leave it at that.

I accept Brian's amendment, because it's trying to accomplish what we're trying to do, and yes, this is a more generic way of going at it. I'll leave it at that.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

Earl.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Speaking to the amendment, you have departmental officials coming in and you make it so broad as to talk about undertaking a review of the Investment Canada Act. I'm wondering whether we can be a bit more specific with respect to investments by perceived state-owned enterprises, so that our discussion is on what we really want. Otherwise we're going to sit here for an hour and we are going to hear the overall story about the Investment Canada Act, and all the different.... I'd like to see it focused.

I'm wondering whether there's a way of making it a bit more focused, or whether your intent was simply to have a broad discussion and then ask questions about the specifics that we're interested in.

I ask that question to see whether or not you think it's worthwhile or whether it makes the study too restrictive.

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Quickly, I appreciate the intent. The only thing we would be careful about, though, and the reason I would say no, is that with private equity firms, we don't know who really owns them. We'd get into a bit of that. “Non-democratic” then becomes a kind of mug's game related to some of these kingdoms and so on. Actually, they're quite sincerely some of the more important philosophical questions we ask.

I appreciate the sentiment and where it's coming from, but I think we can have some good research done beforehand and hopefully avoid that. I would just say to keep it simple for this, and hopefully that will be enough to get our colleagues to get this done.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Then I'm okay without adding to the amendment.

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thank you. I appreciate it.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

Before we go to Frank, I have a question for the analyst or the clerk. We may not have the answer. Is there something down the line that's already going to compel us to look at the Investment Canada Act? Is there a review coming that we don't know about, such as with the Copyright Act, where we know we'll have to do a review?

10:40 a.m.

André Léonard Committee Researcher

I'm not aware of it, but I know that under Bill C-44, the threshold that you were talking about is going to increase from $800 million to $1 billion. For transactions over that threshold there has to be a review by the Minister of Industry.

I've done some research on that before. Since the act has been in existence, only one demand that was over the threshold was refused, and I think that was in 2009.

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

It was MacDonald Dettwiler.

10:40 a.m.

Committee Researcher

André Léonard

Yes, and it's refused if it's not in the best economic interest of Canada.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

All right.

We're going to move to Frank. We're still debating the amendment.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Well, I would like to start even a little further back. We had decided at some point that committee business would be done in camera. There are some issues here that I'm uncomfortable talking about in public. Was there a request that we not be in camera for this particular discussion? Is that why we're not?

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

Right now this is just a motion, so committee business would be actually—

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Maybe I'm misunderstanding this. To discuss this motion, should we not be in camera? There are some things here I'd like to express that I'm not—

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

No. If we adopted the motion, for instance, then we would go in camera to figure out what the specifics are of that motion.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

If we're choosing to discuss the details of a motion, and there are some interesting points I want to get into, I can still....

Let me ask this, then. If it's not supposed to be, I can ask that we go in camera. I have that right. Do I understand that correctly?

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

You do, and then we would have a vote on that. I'm just going to point out that we have about two minutes left. I don't know where we're going with this at this point. We have two minutes left.

June 6th, 2017 / 10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

I have things to say about it, but I'm not going to discuss it. I'm not comfortable. I'm just not comfortable.

I think I agree with what you're driving at, Brian. I like the idea. It's not something that I came, quite frankly....

Before I say, “Okay, let's just call a vote”, I'd like to think about it and reflect on it. You've made a good suggestion. There are things I'd like to share with you, but I'd also like to reflect on it first. You've made a suggestion to change this.

The way it stands right now, I was against this motion for exactly the reasons that Lloyd pointed out. I don't think it's our business, as overseers, to go into the nitty-gritty. If they follow the rules and we don't like the outcome, it's our job to look at the rules, but it's not our job to say, “Did you follow the rules?” We have to take, as overseers, that they're following the rules. If you're concerned that they haven't followed the rules, that's a different kind of conversation.

If you're concerned that the rules aren't right or the rules haven't been looked at, that's something I'm more open to doing. That's actually our role. We're not here to micromanage the process.

I came in here against this motion as it stands. What you're suggesting, Brian, is radical. It's not just a tweak; it's a different perspective, which I'm more open to.

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

If it was radical, it would be ruled out of order, and it's not. I have permission, and it's a friendly amendment, so—

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Excuse my language. I didn't mean to say “radical”—

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

I shouldn't interrupt, I apologize.

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

It's okay, Brian. I didn't mean to say “radical”. I was just saying that it's a shift I didn't perceive. I don't mean radical, and I'm not saying you're out of line. It's just the way I was looking at it, but I am open to—

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

It's the first time I was called that.

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

I'm not surprised about that either.