House of Commons Hansard #184 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was hamilton.


Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, we agree to apply the vote and the NDP will vote in favour of the motion.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 11th, 2015 / 6:35 p.m.


Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals agree to apply the vote and will be voting yes.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Massimo Pacetti Independent Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have no problem proceeding in this fashion. I will be voting in favour.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Scott Andrews Independent Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, I agree to apply and will be voting in favour.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


André Bellavance Independent Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will vote in favour of the motion.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will vote in favour of the motion.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, we agree to proceed in this fashion and we will vote yes.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Manon Perreault Independent Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will vote in favour of the motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #350

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from February 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-625, An Act to amend the Statistics Act (removal of imprisonment), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Removal of Imprisonment in Relation to Mandatory Surveys ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-625, under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #351

Removal of Imprisonment in Relation to Mandatory Surveys ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

I declare the motion adopted.

Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

(Bill read second time and referred to a committee)

It being 6:46 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from December 4, 2014 consideration of the motion.

Takeover of StelcoPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.


Adam Vaughan Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support the motion in principle. The situation in Hamilton is one all of us should be paying close attention to. As steel mills close and as infrastructure spending, in particular, is not spent in the country, there is a direct correlation between the two.

If the government had not cut infrastructure spending by almost 89%, perhaps some of the companies in our country that are producing steel, and in particular the workers and the communities where that product is manufactured and is so critical to the local economy, those steel mills would not be going quiet.

That is why the integrated approach to our economic development, which includes building cities but using steel to build those cities, is so fundamental to the policies that are central to my reason for being in politics, but also central to the reasons for the motion in front of us.

A deal was struck to try to save Stelco and to put Hamilton back on a path toward a more prosperous future, but apparently it did not work. The details of that deal need to be tabled immediately. That is part of what the motion seeks to do.

The protection of those pensions is tough to do through this motion. In principle, we understand the need to do it. We understand how not only the lives of the people impacted are so critical but we also understand the expectation in Hamilton and in Southern Ontario of how those pensions integrate themselves into the local economy and help with the diversification of the local economy. When all that disappears, it is not simply a steel mill going quiet. It is a town going quiet. We cannot allow that to happen.

The way to preserve and present a better opportunity and future for the City of Hamilton is to work with the workers, with the investors in the plan, and with the cities that want to consume the steel as they build great places to live, work, play and invest. The way to do it is to work together. Instead, what we get is a quiet, secret deal in the back rooms. They throw up their hands and say, “It's the economy. It's the free market speaking”, and then the calamity arrives. We do not get a proactive and integrated approach to solving the economic challenges that confront communities like Hamilton.

Be assured, a Liberal government, the next government, will work very hard not only to protect the rights of workers but to protect the economy in southern Ontario. Having a strong Hamilton feeds into a strong Oakville, feeds into a strong Oshawa, and a strong manufacturing base that deals with the strong economy in this part of the country.

The loss of the steel mill, throwing up its hands and not getting engaged as a government is simply unacceptable, and is not right. Therefore, it is not just the anxiety of pensioners we are measuring in the motion and not just the measurement of a city and a local economy that feels it has been abandoned by the federal government, it is all of southern Ontario. It is the entire manufacturing base of the country.

We cannot just extract minerals. We must also process those minerals. We cannot just process minerals for foreign markets. We need to employ those minerals, particularly steel, in the construction of not just an economy but of southern Ontario's cities and all of Canada's cities.

The approach of the government, which is to pretend that a deal is a deal and therefore it must be a good deal and not to provide follow-up, oversight and discipline to that process, is what is failing the manufacturing sector in southern Ontario. It is what is failing cities in our country.

The cut to infrastructure spending, the abandonment of pensioners in Hamilton, walking away from industry in southern Ontario, none of this is good economic policy. It is why we are now experiencing a trade deficit. It is why youth unemployment is so high. It is why property taxes are rising so quickly, particularly around the Golden Horseshoe. The government claims to be cutting taxes, but in fact is downloading on cities. There is no integrated economic strategy for individuals, for industries or for cities in this part of the country.

Imagine if transit was being supported and built. Where would the steel come from? Imagine if new homes were being built. Imagine where the steel and other resources would be coming from. Imagine that the St. Lawrence River and the St. Lawrence system and the bridges that crisscross it were being rebuilt instead of the debate being deferred and the thumbs being twiddled on the other side of the House. Steel would be used. Hamilton would be happy. The pensioners would feel secure in their retirement.

Instead, what we get offered are things like income splitting. Income splitting does not work if one's pension disappears. In fact, income splitting gets worse if one's pension disappears and the city's economy starts to disappear with it.

It is time for a rethink on how we build this country. Simply building perfect budgets, which the government still has failed to do as it has yet to balance a budget, does not necessarily build a stronger Canada. It certainly does not build stronger cities.

We have to rethink this model. It starts by supporting places like Hamilton and by supporting motions like the one in front of us. However, it will not be finished until we get back to the real job of the government, which is to build a strong country, which takes building better provinces, which is a focus on building strong cities, but when we get down to it, it is actually building strong communities, which we know are comprised of people who can retire in dignity, can work with pride, and can contribute to the construction of a great country.

We have not seen any of that with the approach the government has shown to Hamilton and that is wrong. It is time to change that attitude. Unfortunately, the only real way you can change that attitude is to change the government.

We support this motion in the interim. We support its principles. Most importantly, we stand by the people of Hamilton, the retirees of Stelco included. It is time to protect the investment this country has made in the steel mills in Hamilton and Stelco, in particular. It is time to stand up for Hamilton, stand up for cities, and more importantly, stand up to the government, which has ignored this crisis and is only making it worse by its indifference.

Takeover of StelcoPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with mixed emotions that I stand today to speak to this particular motion by my good friend from Hamilton Centre.

I want to congratulate the president and executive of USWA 1005 who fought tooth and nail for the last number of years, along with us in the NDP. Both locally and nationally, the NDP have spoken out on this since the deal was initiated in 2007. I was elected to this House in 2006, and for that many years, from 2007, we have been trying to get the essence of that deal put before the public.

The motion that comes from my friend calls for the government to apologize to the Hamilton community and to our country for approving the U.S. Steel takeover of Stelco because it failed to provide a net benefit.

Members will know that any foreign takeover bid requires a review that looks to a net benefit for Canada. It also calls for that particular deal to be made public. With respect to the acquisition of Stelco in 2007 and the 2011 out-of-court settlement, both of these documents and materials, the evidence that supports them, should be made public.

What is the possible reason for so much secretiveness in this particular arrangement? The tidbits of information that USWA was able to get came from the United States, of all places. There was a court action in the United States where some of it was made public. We turned to the United States to get information our own government would not provide.

The final part of the member's motion would ensure that employee pensions are protected, including amending the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act.

A number of years ago, around 2008-11, I was our party's critic who dealt with pensions. I proposed a piece of legislation to the government at that time. I did not table it in the House, but I went to Ted Menzies, the parliamentary secretary of the day, and said to him that I had a bill that would put the pensioners at the head of the line as secured debt in cases of bankruptcy and insolvency. These are deferred wages, very clearly the property of the workers.

At that time, in fairness to Mr. Menzies, he said he would take it to others in the cabinet and see what he could do. Ultimately, the government said no, it was not prepared to do it because it had some concerns.

Let us imagine today, in the situation that Stelco is in, if that had been passed. It was also proposed to the government prior to Nortel's debacle. As we know, it had somewhere in the area of $6 billion of assets, and the pensioners' pensions were cut 37%. Not only that, 450 people, who were on benefits, who were not employable, lost everything. There was certainly room for a change.

There is so much to talk about in this particular circumstance. This particular company, under the name of Stelco, in 2004, already went through CCAA protection. At that time, there was a tremendous push-back from the people of Hamilton and the USWA, in particular, against the move. There was $545 million in long-term debt and a $1.3 billion deficit in the pension fund obligations at that time.

When we moved forward from that, Stelco came out of that, and millions of dollars went to the person who represented the company, who went back to the United States. It was somewhere in the area of $50 million when there was a debt of this nature.

Then we had several suitors for the company. I recall meeting with the vice-president of a company in Russia at that time. It was a mining company 800 miles north of Moscow. It built hospitals for the workers. It paid their taxes for them.

In that part of the world they were having trouble with abuse of vodka. Circuses were still part of that culture at the time, so they started a circus training school. In other words, they had a commitment to the workers and they offered to come to Hamilton. As I recall, they offered a $350-million investment in the plant in Hamilton. They offered to assume the debt and pay off the pension debt.

The powers that be took the decision to go to U.S. Steel instead. The end result is the workers of Hamilton are paying a terrible penalty for that decision. It is certainly not a net benefit to the 8,000 retirees who are looking at losing somewhere in the area of 20% of their pension, if not more, depending on where the market is, if that were to be shut down. Clearly, the outlook they are facing is that the company wants to sell so it wants to divest itself of those obligations to make the company saleable.

We have to sit back and wonder, where was the government when it had an obligation to protect the workers and the investors in Canada when this deal was put together? Where was the government when it was supposed to be standing up for the workers of Hamilton? Is this a model of what other companies can expect, to be sold down the river because the government is not prepared to stand up for its own workers in its own country? It is shocking when we consider that the government will not share the information with its own citizens. It is beyond comprehension.

In 2008-09, U.S. Steel laid off 700 workers in Hamilton. It had made a commitment that it was going to sustain and maintain employment. In 2009, it shut down most of its Canadian operations and locked out workers in a labour dispute in Hamilton. It shut down the blast furnace in 2009. If one understands the workings of a blast furnace, if it is shut down for any length of time it is ruined. It cannot be used again. By shutting it down, officials were signalling to the people of Hamilton that they were walking away from Hamilton.

At one point the Canadian government looked at the deal, whatever it says, and said that U.S. Steel did not live up to it, so it was taken to court. For a moment in Hamilton we started to say maybe the government is starting to consider supporting the workers in this community. As the court proceedings went on and we were led to understand we were going to be successful, there was an arrangement between the company and the government to end the lawsuit.

For the people who were out of work, they would have received past wages for the time they would have been off the job because it violated the agreement. Instead of going to court, getting that resolution, there was a private deal made that did nothing for the workers in Hamilton. There was a token payment made to some people in Hamilton. Monies that were paid were a very small portion of the obligation of over $1.2 billion to the pension plan.

Going back to the original motion, at the very least the government should be apologizing to the people of Hamilton and to the workers at U.S. Steel, formerly Stelco. Conservatives need to make public those undertakings. Even with the bad taste that people have in their mouth about all of this, they are still are trying to somehow understand what has happened. They should be given the opportunity to look at the undertakings between U.S. Steel and the government with regard to employment, steel production and the ongoing funding of the pension plan, which was not done.

I am saddened that we find ourselves at this place in time. Again, I want to commend the member for Hamilton Centre. We have been in the House probably 40 or 50 times over the last eight years speaking out on this. The government has not been listening and it is very evident.

Takeover of StelcoPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


John Barlow Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to address the concerns raised by the member for Hamilton Centre regarding U.S. Steel's acquisition of Stelco in 2007, a transaction that was reviewed under the provisions of the Investment Canada Act.

In debating the motion today, it is important to bear in mind the actual application of this investment regime and review process set out in the ICA. We should also acknowledge the important amendments our government has made to the ICA to ensure that it continues to effectively attract investment that is beneficial to all Canadians.

In the first section of the Investment Canada Act, the law explicitly recognizes that foreign investment results in increased capital and technological benefits for Canada, which in turn encourages economic growth and employment opportunities in Canada. It mandates that investments be reviewed for their likely net benefit to Canada when they exceed certain monetary thresholds. For a reviewable investment to proceed, the Minister of Industry must be satisfied that the proposed investment is likely to be a net benefit to Canada.

The act focuses on those investments that are likely to be most influential on the economy, usually in the order of 10 to 20 transactions per year. These transactions, although they are all significant, can vary in size. They vary by sector, from natural resources to utilities, from wholesale to retail. They each present their own merits that warrant careful consideration and scrutiny. Therefore, the minister must examine each proposal on a case-by-case basis.

In coming to a decision, the minister must consider the six net benefit factors that are clearly articulated in the act: first, the effect of the investment on the level and nature of economic activity in Canada, including the effect on employment, resource processing and the utilization of parts, components and services produced here in Canada; second, the degree and significance of participation by Canadians in Canadian business; third, the minister must consider the effect of the investment on productivity, industrial efficiency, technological advancement and development, product innovation and product variety in Canada; fourth, the effect of the investment on competition within any industry or industries in Canada is considered; fifth, the compatibility of the investment with national, provincial, industrial, economic and cultural policies must be weighted; and sixth, the contribution of the investment to Canada's ability to compete in world markets.

Potential investors provide business plans which can be supplemented with undertakings to support their contention that their investment represents a net benefit to Canada. The minister then carefully considers the application in light of the net benefit factors I have just described.

It is worth recalling that the present investment review framework under the ICA has evolved over time, as Canada has responded to changing sources of foreign investment in the world economy.

The Foreign Investment Review Act was passed by Parliament in 1973 and its broad scope reflected an ambivalence toward the presence of foreign investment in the Canadian economy. In clear recognition of the importance of foreign investment, Parliament replaced the FIRA with the ICA in 1985.

The ICA explicitly welcomed foreign investment by increasing the threshold for review, removing the minister's investigative powers and reducing the time it took to review applications. This has made the process more predictable and more welcoming for business.

Since that time, both the global investment landscape and the policy framework to respond to it have evolved. The capital and technology needed to spur economic growth comes from an increasingly wide group of investors, and it is important for Canada to maintain its attractiveness to a wide range of foreign investment from around the world.

At the same time, our government has been vigilant in ensuring that foreign investment in Canada actually benefits the Canadian economy and hard-working Canadians. To ensure the act remains effective in a globalized world, the government has introduced several targeted reforms to the act to keep Canada's investment review regime up to date in the face of new and evolving economic realities.

First, in 2007, our government introduced guidelines on investments by state-owned enterprises in recognition of the reality that investments by foreign state-owned entities were unique in nature. A policy statement in 2012 provided added clarification to those guidelines.

In 2009, our government introduced national security review provisions into the ICA. We also made changes to increase the threshold for net benefit reviews from $330 million to $1 billion and to adjust the basis for calculating the review threshold from asset value to enterprise value. This change will more accurately capture the value of businesses operating in the modern economy.

Finally, economic action plan 2014 introduced amendments that will, among other things, give government greater flexibility to provide information on key decision points in the national security review process.

The ICA is just part of our broader economic agenda. Indeed, since day one, we have been cutting taxes for job-creating businesses. In the past five years alone, we have delivered tax reductions to businesses totalling more than $60 billion. We have reduced the federal general corporate tax from 22% to 15% and lowered the small business tax rate to 11%. We have also extended the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment through 2015.

I can tell everyone that Canada now offers the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the entire G7. The competitiveness of Canada's business tax system was lauded by KPMG, which concluded that Canada's total business taxes were the lowest in the G7, more than 40% lower than the United States. Importantly, where the ICA is concerned, growth and foreign direct investment in Canada has been the strongest among the G7 countries over the course of this recovery.

Canada's economic success is due in no small measure to a framework our government has put into place. This framework improves access to capital, technology and global expertise. With that framework in place, we are confident Canada will continue to attract foreign investment that will benefit all Canadians.

Takeover of StelcoPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to Motion No. 537, which has to do with the takeover of Stelco by U.S. Steel.

Before I begin, I would like to commend the hard work done by the member for Hamilton Centre, for whom I have a great deal of respect. He has a lot of experience and served as minister of correctional services in the Ontario legislature. He is also very passionate about defending the rights of workers, so I was not surprised to see him move such a motion in the House. He believes in it. It is very important to him.

Motion No. 537 by my colleague from Hamilton Centre urges the government to do three things: first of all, to apologize for approving the U.S. Steel takeover of Stelco on the grounds that it has failed to provide a net benefit; second, to make public the commitments U.S. Steel agreed to under the Investment Canada Act in respect of the acquisition of Stelco Inc. in 2007, and the 2011 out-of-court settlement, concerning employment and production guarantees and maintenance of the employee pension system—and I will come back to this part later—and third, to take action to ensure employee pensions are protected, including amending the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

I would like to take a moment to explain the first point of the motion moved by my NDP colleague. I will then talk about the third part of the motion, because it applies to a similar situation, one just as upsetting, that happened in my riding over five years ago.

Let us look at what the first point is all about. Why ask the government to apologize for approving the takeover of Stelco by U.S. Steel because there was no net benefit? Let me give a little background on what motivated us to do that. Before it was called U.S. Steel, the company was called Stelco. It was a company that specialized in steel manufacturing that operated in southwestern Ontario.

In 2004, Stelco declared that it had $545 million in long-term debt and a $1.3 billion deficit in pension funding obligations. Therefore, Stelco applied for bankruptcy protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

In March 2006, Stelco came out of Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act protection after selling off different production units. In 2007, in a transaction that was subject to review for approval under the Investment Canada Act, U.S. Steel purchased Stelco for $1.9 billion—$1.1 billion in cash and $800 million in assumed debt.

U.S. Steel undertook to maintain jobs and production and honour pension obligations by making $70 million in annual payments to the employee pension funds to return them to solvency by 2015. Based on that information, the federal government approved the takeover with the understanding that it would be a “net benefit” to Canada.

This is where the story takes a terrible turn. In 2008-09, 700 workers were laid off in Hamilton. That is certainly not a net benefit. There was also the shutdown of the majority of operations in Canada, which is certainly not a net benefit, and the 11-month lockout of the workers in Hamilton and Nanticoke. Then the federal government took U.S. Steel to Federal Court for failing to meet its undertakings on production and pensions. They settled out of court in 2011.

The company undertook to continue producing steel in Canada and make at least $50 million in capital investments to maintain its Canadian facilities. Then it started all over again. In 2013, almost 1,000 workers were locked out for four months. In 2014, U.S. Steel filed for bankruptcy protection, claiming an $800 million shortfall with respect to pensions, of course. Pensioners are still facing the possibility of having their pensions reduced by 30%.

My colleague from Hamilton Centre is right: workers and Canadians deserve an apology from the government for approving the takeover by U.S. Steel. It is obvious that what happened was not a net benefit to Canada. When we see such situations, it is also clear that the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act need a complete overhaul.

Only the NDP, with the decades of work that it has done in defence of the rights of workers and the middle class in Canada, will have the political courage to address these issues. We will begin in eight months.

Unfortunately, what the U.S. Steel workers are going through all too closely resembles what happened to F.F. Soucy workers in my riding. F.F. Soucy was bought out by the American company White Birch Paper in 2007. From 2010 until just recently, retirees were living under the threat of having their pensions cut dramatically. Workers aged 55 and under stood to lose up to 70% of their pension. That is huge.

The retirees had to wait until January 2015 for a judge to rule that they would receive the amounts they had been owed since December 2012. It is shameful that these retirees have been waiting since December 2012 to get what they are owed. The judge also decided that they would be paid 90% of their original pension. That was five years of stress and lost income for these retired men and women who were not guilty of anything more than earning an honest living under a legally negotiated agreement.

The representatives of the F.F. Soucy retirees are right. This case shows why the laws need to be strengthened to ensure that pension plans are given preferred creditor status in Canada.

I will support the motion by my colleague from Hamilton Centre, since too many events in recent history have proven that this motion is appropriate and necessary.

In southeastern Ontario, as in Rivière-du-Loup and all across Canada, there are too many transactions that provide no net benefit to Canadians and too many retirees who have seen their pensions suffer. This needs to change. I am proud to rise with my colleagues in the NDP who are showing, with Motion No. 537, that they do not just talk about their values, but they are also prepared to act on those values right now. Some colleagues are telling me that there are other cases, like Nortel. I would like all my colleagues to have a chance to speak. There are a lot of examples.

In the minute I have left, I would like to put this all in perspective. There seems to be this complete obsession on the right, which can be found across the country, but you hear it a lot on right-wing radio in Quebec, with denigrating unionized workers, and it has gotten completely out of hand.

We need to remind the public that these agreements came out of a completely legal negotiation process. When workers say that they are entitled to something, it is because they have a completely legal agreement. We need to remind the public of what happens in the communities affected. Take, for example, the 200 or so F.F. Soucy retirees who spent years worrying about losing 70% of their retirement income. Just imagine the stress of being in your sixties, having worked for 30 or 35 years and no longer being sure that you will get 70% of your income for your remaining years. Imagine that stress.

Communities and people who are not unionized—such as restaurant owners—have to understand that when hundreds of retirees suddenly see their income collapse because one party did not hold up its end of the pension payment agreement, that is bad for everyone. If, year after year, a retiree is afraid of losing 70% of his income or actually does lose 30% of it, will he still have discretionary funds to spend at cafés and restaurants every weekend? This has a direct impact on the whole community.

When right wingers go on and on about how unions are useless, that has a negative impact on workers and working conditions in the industrial sector. Ultimately, communities suffer. That is what people need to be reminded of. The right has a tendency to get completely hysterical when it comes to the basic rights of workers.

Takeover of StelcoPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.


John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to join in this debate today in response to the motion from my colleague regarding the acquisition of Stelco by U.S. Steel in 2007 under the Investment Canada Act or the ICA.

The motion calls for three things: (a) for the government to apologize to the people of Hamilton for approving the deal with U.S. Steel; (b) to release publicly the ICA commitments with U.S. Steel; and, (c) take action to ensure the pension benefits are protected.

My colleagues have clearly addressed, in both first reading and again today, why the government is against this motion. Therefore, I am not going to repeat a lot of the points that were raised by my colleagues. Rather, I rise today to speak to the importance of foreign investments to Canada's continued economic growth.

The motion suggests that U.S. Steel's current situation reflects a flaw in Canada's foreign investment policy, a suggestion that is simply not supported by the facts. Foreign investment is vital to sustaining Canada's strong record on economic growth and job creation. By introducing a competitive tax system and reducing red tape, our government has created an attractive economic climate for both domestic and foreign investment.

More competition means Canadians get goods and services at lower prices, workers can find higher-paying jobs, and Canadian businesses find themselves better equipped for success in global markets. Key to this strong business environment is Canada's foreign investment framework, promoting investments that are in Canada's interests. Indeed, the positive benefits of foreign investment are well-established. Let me outline a few.

First and foremost, foreign investment increases productivity. This is reflected in higher-paying jobs for Canadians.

Second, foreign investment provides new capital that Canadian firms need to grow and excel. New technologies and innovative business practices allow Canadian enterprises to compete on the world stage. Foreign investment is particularly critical for unlocking the full value of Canada's natural resources. It is also important for helping the manufacturing sector, which accounts for half of business research and development in Canada.

Third, foreign investment allows Canadian businesses to access the knowledge, capabilities and management expertise of world-leading businesses. This exposure can increase the productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of Canadian firms. Foreign investment also provides Canadian businesses with access to new markets. Foreign investment can provide an unparalleled opportunity for our exporters to diversify their sales by accessing the world's most rapidly growing economies. It is critical for integrating Canadian firms into global value chains. Many Canadian suppliers were initially selected for their proximity to larger firms. Over time, these Canadian companies have since developed their own leading-edge specialized skills and technologies.

To continue to realize the full benefits of foreign investment, Canada must maintain the economic conditions necessary to attract foreign investment. Canada's economic performance under this government has been very strong relative to other industrialized countries coming out of the 2008 global economic downturn. Canada has been widely applauded for having weathered and recovered quickly from the global economic downturn and foreign investors have taken notice.

Since that time, Canada has achieved one of the best job creation and economic growth rates in the G7. This achievement is all the more remarkable when taking into account the global economic uncertainty that we have witnessed over recent years.

According to Statistics Canada, Canada's economy was the first among G7 nations to recoup the employment losses recorded during the downturn. The ICA framework rewards initiative and innovation, and makes Canada an investment destination of choice for international investors.

Our government has kept taxes low for Canadians and for Canadian businesses, supporting job creation, growth and investment. We have introduced a successful formula for foreign investment by leveraging abundant energy resources with a capacity for innovation, a fiscally stable and predictable economy, and a competitive business environment. Our plan for jobs and growth has resulted in significant investments to promote innovation, foster research and development, and ensure that Canadians are equipped with the skills and training they need to succeed in a globalized economy.

Businesses operating in Canada also benefit from the advantages provided by our sound financial institutions, our highly skilled labour force, and our world-leading capabilities in science and technology. In short, we have put in place the foundation to make Canada a world leader today and for future generations.

In addition to these measures, our government is committed to open borders and free trade. History has shown that trade is the best way to create jobs and growth, and boost our standard of living.

Our government has worked diligently to secure access to new markets and increase exports of Canadian goods and services to global markets, providing new and diverse opportunities for Canadian companies.

In fact, when our government took office in 2006, Canada had free trade agreements with five countries. That was not good enough for a country where 60% of GDP and one in five jobs were tied to trade. We now have free trade deals with 43 countries, a record that includes the two largest markets in the world, Europe and the United States. We are pursuing trade and investment agreements with many more, including large markets such as China, India and Japan, and also as part of the trans-Pacific partnership.

Our government will continue to attract the benefits of foreign investment to Canada by maintaining policies that support economic growth. Foreign investment review as part of the Investment Canada Act is a key part of Canada's economic framework. Our balanced approach ensures that foreign investment transactions are reviewed on their merits based on the long-term interests of the Canadian economy. Foreign investment has boosted Canada's productivity, created jobs, and enhanced research and development undertaken in Canada. These investments have also clearly demonstrated to the world that Canada is open for business.

In conclusion, our government has demonstrated its commitment to ensuring that Canadian businesses can compete in both domestic and international markets.

In order to prosper, create jobs, and maintain a high standard of living for Canadians, it is important to have modern policies in place that encourage trade and investment. Under our government, we will continue to attract world-class companies with high-paying jobs, leading to strong, sustainable economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians.

Takeover of StelcoPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.


David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, may I first thank all of my colleagues from all parties, across the aisle and on this side, for their participation and for taking this matter seriously. It is very important to the people of Hamilton, so I thank everyone for that.

Having said that, I have to say that there was not a government member who got up and said anything that was of any real value, other than a lot of rhetoric and reading out Conservative talking points about what they have done. Nowhere did anyone stand up and address the key issues we have placed before Parliament. Once again, it shows that these workers, employees, potential pensioners and those already on a pension are just not a priority for the Conservative government. Anyone who wants to question that should read the Hansard. Read Hansard and see what was not said as opposed to what was said.

On the other side of the spectrum, let me also thank my two Hamilton colleagues, the member for Hamilton Mountain and the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek. They both spoke very passionately and knowledgeably on the issue in front of us and on the harm and damage being done to these U.S. Steel workers, formerly Stelco workers, and members of Local 1005 USW.

If people are interested, a lot of the rhetoric came up about what happened with the pensions at Stelco back in the 1990s provincially. I urge anyone who wants to know the truth and the facts about that to visit the remarks of my colleague from Hamilton Mountain on December 4, 2014, when we first debated this. She went into great detail, spelling out exactly what is the truth and what is just a lot of myth, politics, and spin. I thank her so much for that.

I also want to thank my colleague from Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup so much for his passionate remarks. We can certainly tell that he gets this issue.

My motion asks for three very simple things. It is not that complicated. Number one, we asked for an apology, and we feel that we are owed an apology, because it is the government that makes a decision, under the Investment Canada Act, as to whether a foreign takeover can take place. That is a judgement call, and it is supposed to be based on whether there is a net benefit to Canada. There was no net benefit to Canada. There sure as heck was no net benefit to those pensioners whose pensions are on the line right now. Their whole quality of life is on the line right now. There was no net benefit for them.

This was a terrible decision at best. It is not unreasonable for the people of Hamilton to ask for an apology from the government for making this really awful, horrid decision that has led to this crisis in all of these hundreds and thousands of Canadians' lives. It is nothing less than that.

We asked the government to make public its secret deal that got us to this point. The Hamilton city council has asked for the documents. It has taken this so seriously that it has struck a special steel subcommittee. I believe it was today that Councillor Scott Duvall was re-elected as the chair of that committee. Councillor Sam Merulla is the vice-chair. That is how seriously the people of Hamilton take this issue.

We asked that the government make amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the CCAA, to ensure that in the future, pensioners go to the top of the list, not the bottom.

Here is the crime of this. One cannot relive the years it takes to build up a pension. To deny people the right to the pension they worked for is unacceptable in this country. It is immoral to do that to people, yet that is exactly what is happening here. It is not just the union workers. It is also the salaried non-union workers. Their pensions are on the line just as much.

This is unacceptable. We need to turn around and elect a government that is going to care about the people of this country by doubling the CPP, for example, rather than throwing people off pension lines in terms of the amounts they are entitled to receive.

This action by the government has caused countless heartaches and stress for all those people affected, and the government to this minute, has still not given Hamiltonians the justice and decent attention that they are entitled to.

Until the government does, we in the NDP and those of us from Hamilton will stand up and holler from the rooftops that this is wrong, and we want pensioners and Hamiltonians to attack it the way it deserves.

Takeover of StelcoPrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Is the House ready for the question?

Takeover of StelcoPrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


Takeover of StelcoPrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Takeover of StelcoPrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Some hon. members