That, in the opinion of the House, the government: (a) should not make a decision on the proposed takeover of Nexen by CNOOC without conducting thorough public consultations; (b) should immediately undertake transparent and accessible public hearings into the issue of foreign ownership in the Canadian energy sector with particular reference to the impact of state-owned enterprises; and (c) must respect its 2010 promise to clarify in legislation the concept of "net benefit" within the Investment Canada Act.
Mr. Speaker, this is a very important debate today. To underscore the importance of the debate, I will read a letter I received last night from Calgary from one of the many Canadians who are concerned both with this deal and also with the lack of government action and irresponsible approach that it has taken thus far on a file, an application, that it knew about more than two months ago.
Part of the letter reads as follows:
I am a lawyer with over 25 years of experience in the oil, natural gas and petrochemical industry. Currently I am VP Legal and General Counsel for a pipeline transmission company headquartered in Calgary. ... I have grave concerns about the proposed CNOOC takeover of Nexen.
CNOOC is a state-owned entity. ... While CNOOC has promised to comply with federal and provincial health, safety and environmental laws, this commitment doesn't address the fact that the executives directing the Canadian subsidiary's actions reside in China, well beyond the reach of Canadian courts. The Sinopec case shows that Chinese state-owned entities will fight all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to avoid prosecution.
...selling our non-renewable natural resources to the highest bidder is not the answer [to the issues before us].
Please note, I'm not asking you to say "no" to foreign investment in the oil sands, but rather to say "no" to foreign takeover of the oil sands. Once these resources are sold to a state-owned entity, Canada will never get them back.
This is why this issue is so fundamentally important. Canadians are writing and phoning in saying that very clearly. In the constituency meetings we are having across the country, I know every member of Parliament has had people approach them about this deal. I certainly I have in my riding.
What the NDP is saying is that there needs to be public consultations on this deal. Before the government moves to rubber-stamp, it should consult the public. That is what we are saying today and that is where we are hoping to get support from all members of Parliament in the House.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with our terrific industry critic, the member for LaSalle—Émard. I will be looking forward to her presentation in just a few minutes.
The concerns that have been raised by that particular individual are not concerns that we only see occasionally but concerns being raised regularly right across the country.
It is only fair to listen to what the public knows so far of this particular application. An opinion poll just a few days ago indicated that about 70% of Canadians oppose this deal.
Mr. Speaker, you know, because you are very well versed in these matters, that the majority of chief executives who are polled are opposing this deal unless they can see stringent conditions. I will get back to that in a moment. There are real concerns about the government's ability to even put in place the kind of conditions that are required.
We are seeing concerns raised by the public and in boardrooms across the country. We have even heard concerns raised in the Conservative caucus.
For all of those reasons, the NDP is presenting a motion today that would allow for the type of considered discussion around this issue that needs to take place. We are saying that there should not be a rubber-stamp placed on this “without conducting thorough public consultations”; that the House should direct the government to “immediately undertake transparent and accessible public hearings into the issue of foreign ownership in the Canadian energy sector with particular reference to the impact of state-owned enterprises”; and that the government “must respect its 2010 promise to clarify in legislation the concept of 'net benefit' within the Investment Canada Act”.
That is what we have put forward. Certainly no Conservative member of Parliament could oppose a commitment that was made to Canadians both in a previous House and in a previous election campaign.
As we start this important debate today, I will recall for members on all sides of the House the unanimous support for the motion by our late leader, Jack Layton, two years ago and adopted unanimously in the House.
It stated that in the opinion of the House we needed to make public hearings a mandatory part of foreign investment review. The Conservatives voted for that.
More particularly, it called for increased transparency by:
(b) ensuring those hearings are open to all [who are] directly affected and [to the] expert witnesses they choose to call on their behalf.
—which the Conservatives and everyone else in the House voted for, and—
(c) ensuring all conditions attached to approval of a takeover be made public and be accompanied by equally transparent commitments to monitoring corporate performance on those conditions and appropriate and enforceable penalties for failure to live up to those conditions.
—which again, all members of the House voted for, and by—
(d) clarifying that a goal of the Act is to encourage foreign investment that brings new capital, creates new jobs, transfers new technology to this country, increases Canadian-based research and development, contributes to sustainable economic development and improves the lives of Canadian workers and their communities, and not foreign investment motivated simply by a desire to gain control of a strategic Canadian resource....
Every single member of Parliament, including every member of the Conservative Party there on that date in 2010, voted for that motion by Jack Layton. It was one of those rare occasions when there was a unanimous move by the House of Commons to direct the government to undertake certain actions.
Now it is two years later. Has anything been done to follow up on that motion passed unanimously by the House?