House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jordan.


Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

10:10 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta


Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for bringing this concern to Parliament today, as has the member for Mount Royal.

Canada is deeply concerned by the Iranian government's continued disrespect for the human rights of its citizens, its destabilizing regional role and its nuclear proliferation activities.

I will say quite clearly that Iran clearly knows that Canada is no friend of Iran. We have the largest, strongest sanctions against Iran, going beyond what the Security Council has said.

Most recently, on January 13, we expanded existing sanctions by adding five entities and individuals to our list of designated persons. Prior to that, on November 21, 2001, Canada implemented a number of strong measures against Iran under the Special Economic Measures Act. These expanded sanctions prohibit all financial transactions with Iran or any person in Iran, adding individuals and entities to the list of designated persons and expanding the list of goods prohibited for export.

The member has raised the question of China. As a result of the sanctions that we have put on Iran, there is no direct energy sector relations between Canada and Iran.

Furthermore, all Canadian sanctions against Iran were drafted as broadly as allowed under Canadian law. There is no power in Canadian law to apply sanctions to non-Canadians outside Canada. However, the prohibitions apply to persons in Canada and Canadians abroad, and they apply to financial transactions carried out for the benefit of and on the direction of or order of any person in Iran.

Canada's concern about the nuclear, and not only nuclear activities but also human rights violations has been long-standing. As part of our ongoing efforts to promote respect for human rights in that country, Canada led the adoption of the resolution on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran in the fall of 2011 session of the United Nations General Assembly. This marked the ninth consecutive year Canada led this initiative. The resolution was co-sponsored by 42 member states and supported by 89 in the vote, with only 13 members voting against it. This represented the largest margin of adoption since Canada assumed the lead on this resolution in 2003.

I do join with the member on the opposite side in expressing the concern that she has expressed about the nuclear proliferation by Iran and the threat that Iran poses to the region. We will be working with our international allies, and that includes China as well, to ensure that sanctions are applied and that as much diplomatic pressure is put on Iran as we can.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

10:15 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the parliamentary secretary believes there is a problem, but I am astonished that he could put forth the notion that there is not an issue of concern when we have Sinopec, CNOOC and PetroChina buying from Iran and investing in Canada at the same time, the same subsidiaries in and out of the same pockets.

When we talk about nuclear issues, we know that we have just approved the sale of yellowcake from Saskatchewan to China under terms that the U.S. finds too shaky to meet the terms of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. We cannot track yellowcake adequately under these new rules. We, therefore, could be not only dealing with companies that buy the Iranian oil and prop up that regime, as China props up Syria, but we could also be in a situation where Canadian yellowcake makes its way into the Chinese nuclear program or even into the Iranian nuclear program. We cannot track these sales.

We have let the horse out of the barn without paying attention. In 2009, when we amended the Investment Canada Act, we should have put a clause in, as the experts recommended, for national security checks to be included. We have no protection. We are not paying attention.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

10:15 p.m.


Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, I want to make it very clear for the hon. member that we are concerned with what is happening in Iran, as she herself is concerned with the situation. However, our approach is to work with our allies. Of course we are aware that China is one of the larger customers of Iran going back before these sanctions were put forward and therefore diplomatically the pressure is being put on China from everyone to reduce the imports of oil into China.

The member keeps talking about China. It is India as well that is reducing its imports from China. However, this is working together diplomatically with all our allies to ensure that pressure is put forward on China and on other countries that are buying the Iranian oil to get them to come to the table and talk about the nuclear activities.

Right now as we talk the second stage of that conference will be taking place pretty soon in which all five countries, including China, will be talking with the Iranians in reference to their nuclear activities.

Science and TechnologyAdjournment Proceedings

10:20 p.m.


Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, Charles Townes, in describing the discovery of the laser, showed how much that discovery depended on a massive amount of research on atomic spectroscopy and the study of atomic beams, work seemingly of little commercial use.

This observation, reported in the journal Physics in Canada last summer, is at the heart of the debate on innovation in Canada.

The best-known Canadian scientific institution is undoubtedly the National Research Council of Canada. The NRC is behind one of the greatest symbols of Canadian scientific achievement, the Canadarm.

In March, the Minister of State for Science and Technology announced the dramatic restructuring of the NRC. In a speech to the members of the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa on March 6, he stated that the National Research Council of Canada “will be hopefully a one-stop, 1-800, ‘ 'I have a solution for your business problem’.”

The Minister of State for Science and Technology must realize that the NRC is more than just a one-stop Staples store. The National Research Council of Canada plays a crucial role in Canada's science culture. It is a symbol of our commitment to the advancement of science.

Between 2007 and 2012, the government gradually reduced core funding for the three granting councils: SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR. Social science research has been reduced by 10%, or $40 million, and health research has been cut by 4%, or $41 million, according to the memorandum submitted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers as part of pre-budget consultations.

Cuts to basic scientific research are leaving Canadian researchers with less and less money to pursue research that could contribute to advances in physics, chemistry and biology. Essentially, innovation is not getting any easier; rather it is becoming more difficult.

Eventually, underfunding for basic research will jeopardize the overall size of our scientific community. In other words, it will shrink, and this will reduce our chances for innovation.

The second outcome of this government's policy is that it will threaten technology transfers themselves between universities and the private sector. The marketing pipeline has two ends and if the source dries up, nothing can come out the other end. In other words, good ideas are needed before they can be marketed.

The third outcome of the government's science policy is that it will create a new brain drain in Canada. The vice-president of research at the University of British Columbia agrees. In Research Money he states, and I quote:

“We're now starting to lose talented mid-career researchers to the EU. The EU Framework program, France and Germany are all increasing their basic research envelope. Germany is increasing funding for basic research by 5%....These are huge increases in funding. They (European countries) can do targeted recruitment and the are making spectacular offers. That's my main concern. Canada has built a very strong university research community and I don't want to see it taken apart by foreign competition”.

My question is the following: will the $67 million announced in budget 2012 for restructuring the National Research Council be used to give severance packages to Canada's top researchers?

Science and TechnologyAdjournment Proceedings

10:25 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta


Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, our government has shown a strong and long-standing commitment to science and technology since the release of our science and technology strategy in 2007. The strategy recognizes the important link between knowledge and the capacity to innovate in the global economy. More important than simply having a strategy, we are taking action.

Economic action plan 2012 builds on this foundation, creating a comprehensive and forward looking agenda that will deliver high quality jobs, economic growth and sound public finances. It builds on our positive record of achievement to help further unleash the potential of Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate and thrive in the modern economy to the benefit of all Canadians.

By focusing on the drivers of growth and job creation, innovation, investment, education, skills and communities, we will solidify, strengthen and draw upon the Canadian entrepreneurial spirit as the driving force behind Canada's economy.

Supporting publicly-funded research is important to the government. Our government's spending on science and technology for fiscal year 2011-12 is expected to exceed $11 billion. Sadly, the opposition continues to oppose every investment that our government makes in science and technology. Our government's investments help support world-class Canadian research and help us achieve key social goals, such as improving public health, building a strong and vibrant economy and ensuring a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

However, we recognize that despite high levels of federal support for R and D, Canada continues to lag in business R and D spending, commercialization of new products and services and thus productivity growth. That is why we asked an independent panel, led by Mr. Tom Jenkins, to review federal investments in business R and D and provide advice on optimizing this support.

Through its response to elements of the Jenkins panel report, budget 2012 also announced a new approach to innovation that would more actively support business-led initiatives to better meet private sector needs. In particular, we will transform the National Research Council, or NRC, to refocus its efforts toward business-driven, industry-relevant applied research that will help Canadian businesses develop innovative products and services. The model being developed will be built on proven approaches used by successful global innovation players, carefully adapted to the Canadian reality.

In addition, economic action plan 2012 invests an additional $110 million a year in the industrial research assistance program, or IRAP, to better support R and D by small and medium sized companies.

Through these and other measures, we have taken action because we are committed to creating an environment where Canadian ideas and innovation can be turned into new marketable, competitive and beneficial products that result in jobs, growth and prosperity for all Canadians in the years ahead.

Science and TechnologyAdjournment Proceedings

10:25 p.m.


Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NRC plays an essential role in stimulating Canada's economy, but the NDP fears that the government is completely eliminating basic research from the NRC's mission statement. If there are no new ideas to fuel innovation, then there will not be any new computers or BlackBerrys to market, and Canada will lag behind countries like Germany, which is investing heavily in basic research.

At the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference I attended in February, Mike Lazaridis, the co-founder of Research in Motion and one of Canada's top entrepreneurs, made a passionate speech on the curiosity that fuels researchers and the need for every government to support basic research. He was clear: innovation is the fruit of allowing researchers to explore their curiosity.

I have a simple question: how does the government expect to stimulate the economy by eliminating basic research from the NRC's mandate? Does the government truly understand what fuels innovation?

Science and TechnologyAdjournment Proceedings

10:25 p.m.


Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the hon. member's question about the National Research Council and the encouragement of innovation in Canada, our government has a proven track record of action that we have continued through budget 2012. In fact, economic action plan 2012 invests an additional $110 million per year to the industrial research assistance program to better support R and D by small and medium-sized companies.

Economic action plan 2012 also proposes $67 million in 2012-13 to support the NRC in refocusing its efforts toward business-driven, industry-relevant applied research that will help Canadian businesses develop innovative products and services.

Together, these investments will help us create a comprehensive and forward looking agenda that will deliver high quality jobs and economic growth. I welcome any ideas the hon. member may have to help us build on our momentum.

Science and TechnologyAdjournment Proceedings

10:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.)