House of Commons Hansard #23 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was military.


Public SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec


Greg Fergus LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the comments made by my colleague, the hon. member for the riding of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, concerning the review of foreign investments that could be injurious to national security.

First of all, I would like to point out that direct foreign investment plays a positive and significant role in the Canadian economy. It contributes to research development, productivity, and globalization.

Trade and direct foreign investment go hand in hand. They link Canada to international value chains. Canada is open to investments that create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for Canadians. However, that cannot happen at the expense of national security.

The Investment Canada Act has an important role to play. On the one hand, it provides for the review of significant foreign investments for their likely net benefit to the economy. On the other hand, it provides for the review of investments that could be injurious to national security.

All foreign investment in Canada is subject to a national security review under the Investment Canada Act. The process is thorough and involves consultation with government organizations responsible for national security. The Allstream-Zayo transaction was no exception.

I can assure the House of full compliance with the Investment Canada Act. The act restricts the amount of detail that can be shared about specific transactions, and those restrictions are important because they prevent trade injury and protect national security.

It would be useful to look at how those in charge of reviewing transactions in accordance with the act operate. The act was amended in February 2009 to enable reviews of investments that could be injurious to national security.

Review processes and timelines are clearly established, and the act also gives the Governor in Council the authority to take any necessary measures to address problems that arise concerning national security.

The national security provisions apply to a broader range of foreign investments than the net benefit provisions.

The act also provides separately for the review of foreign investments for their likely net benefit to the Canadian economy. Net benefit reviews are limited to significant investments for acquisitions of control of Canadian businesses valued above the threshold set out in the act. For private sector WTO investors, the relevant threshold is $600 million in enterprise value. For foreign state-owned enterprises, that threshold is at a lower $375 million in asset value.

The net benefit review process is rigorous and involves thorough consultation with affected provinces and territories, as well as government departments or agencies that have policy responsibility for the sector involved in the transaction. Other bodies are also consulted. In addition, any person or group may submit its views in writing to the minister during the review process.

Public SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Madam Speaker, obviously our concern in this particular case is the sharing of sensitive information. While I am encouraged to hear that measures have been taken to ensure that there are controls in place, this is something that is not widely known. Unfortunately, it took media pressure to get to that kind of information, when in fact Manitobans, whose information is exposed as a result of this purchase, should have the right to know immediately once these kinds of changes take place.

Finally, we are essentially talking about the need to render the Investment Canada Act, and the agreements that come as a result of it, more transparent and strengthened so that Canadians know that their best interests are served and the concept of net benefit is a realistic one in terms of Canadians' daily reality.

Public SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite again for her questions and concerns.

I cannot comment on the specific case of this particular transaction, but let me reassure the member, as well as all Canadians, that the provisions in the law set out a host of evaluations to make sure that there is a national security component that is taken into account and there is an examination.

I can assure the hon. member that the government did that and followed the law thoroughly on the evaluation of this particular transaction, as it does for all transactions that fall under the purview of the law.

I can assure hon. members that the conclusion of that committee was that national security concerns were taken into account and that there was a net benefit for Canadians.

The EconomyAdjournment Proceedings

February 23rd, 2016 / 6:45 p.m.


John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today on a question I asked the Minister of Natural Resources.

What we are looking for here is some clarity on the framework of our energy and resource sector to hopefully reinvigorate confidence in our resource sector. We are really looking for our Minister of Natural Resources to step up.

Reports are predicting 185,000 job losses in the energy sector in 2016, with 125,000 in Alberta alone. We are well on our way to that statistic, with 22,000 full-time jobs lost in Alberta in January alone.

Alberta's unemployment rate has reached 7.4%. It is the first time since 1988 that it has been higher than the Canadian average. Predictions show that Alberta's unemployment rate will exceed 8% by the end of 2016. Certainly this is something that is very troubling to Albertans.

The Liberal government seems to have trivialized the importance of the natural resource sector, even though it makes up 20% of Canada's GDP and adds more than $160 billion to our economy on an annual basis. This is certainly not something to trivialize when we look at the job losses in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and across Atlantic Canada.

We heard today from the Prime Minister, as well as from the Minister of Finance, about an influx of $250 million for Alberta. I find that trivial. Albertans do not want a handout. They want to go work, as I am sure most Canadians do. It is quite clear that this is simply a way of appeasing Albertans with their own tax dollars, which is not something we want.

What Albertans are asking from the current Liberal government and the Minister of Natural Resources is a commitment to projects like energy east, commitments that will instill confidence and new enthusiasm in the resource sector, which will help not only Albertans but Canadians across the country.

We have spoken a great deal about what energy east will mean to Alberta, but what I was trying to highlight for the minister is how important this is not only to Alberta but to Canadians. For example, let us look at the hundreds in New Brunswick who have been laid off in Sussex due to the closure of the potash mine. If we were to proceed with energy east, a lot of those unemployed people in New Brunswick would be able to find jobs in the energy sector. That is just one opportunity we would have with energy east.

Instead, the Liberal government has told investors that it would rather support foreign oil imports than support Canadian workers and employers. It believes that the environmental record of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Russia are better options than Canada's regulatory regime.

Energy east can replace the need to import foreign crude into Quebec and Atlantic Canada with a secure source of Canadian oil. Currently, 630,000 barrels of oil are imported into Quebec and Atlantic Canada each and every day from places like the Middle East and west Africa, places not exactly world renowned for their environmental stewardship.

The minister recently announced interim regulations and indicated that more may be coming, which simply increases uncertainty, instability, and ambiguity in the sector. We are looking for more clarity from the Minister of Natural Resources on the approval process for critical infrastructure, like pipelines, and on whether the current Liberal government will be introducing a carbon tax.

What steps is the minister going to take to create stability and predictability and to encourage investment in Canada's energy sector and show that this is a good place to do business?

Also, if energy east passes the muster of the National Energy Board, if it passes the regulatory regime of the National Energy Board, will the government and the Minister of Natural Resources support energy east?

The EconomyAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Northumberland—Peterborough South Ontario


Kim Rudd LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Madam Speaker, our government understands that these are difficult days for the people of Alberta. For thousands of our fellow citizens, the precipitous drop in the price of oil has made these very trying times. Businesses are struggling, jobs are lost, and families are hurting. We have seen this boom and bust cycle before, but it does not make it any easier for those who are struggling. While there is no magic wand, there are things we can do both now and in the long term to weather this storm.

In terms of short-term actions, we are working with the province of Alberta. A few weeks ago, the Prime Minister moved quickly to fast-track infrastructure funding of $700 million. This will ease the immediate hardships and job losses in the energy sector.

In addition, when a region's unemployment rate rises, the entrance requirement for employment insurance is reduced and the duration of benefits increases. In fact, the duration of these benefits has increased in all four economic regions in Alberta.

The number of weeks available in hard-hit regions in Alberta has increased by 5 to the maximum entitlement nationally of 45 weeks. We have also put in place an interim approach for major resource projects already under regulatory review. We have committed to modernizing the National Energy Board.

We know that the sooner we restore public confidence in the regulatory process, the sooner we will see broad-based support for large-scale, sustainable energy products that will get our resources to market. Indeed, our government believes there is every reason for Canadians to be optimistic about the long-term future of our energy sector.

Also, there is every reason to believe we can achieve a brighter future based on a clean environment and a strong economy going hand in hand: a future built on innovation and adapting to changing times; a future utilizing greener ways to extract and develop our fossil fuels; a future with more sustainable ways to get our energy to markets at home and abroad; a future that makes greater use of renewable sources of energy; a future where energy efficiency plays a more prominent role; a future where we invest in clean technologies and green infrastructure; and, in short, a future where we engage Canadians on how to generate the energy we need while preserving the planet we cherish.

Our government is committed to doing both. Through the federation, we can engage in nation building by creating a visionary energy strategy that enables Canada to lead in the fight against climate change and truly position us as a global leader in a low-carbon economy.

The EconomyAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.


John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Madam Speaker, my concern is the $700 million that were announced before. There are no strings attached to that $700 million. To say that will help those unemployed in the energy industry is disingenuous. Liberals say that they believe there will be renewed optimism in the energy sector, but the fact is that there is no optimism in the energy sector. That is our concern right now.

She talked about climate change and a low-carbon economy. As part of the minister's mandate letter, he is also supposed to have a continental energy agreement. However, right now the United States and Mexico are not talking about a federal carbon tax. The United States has lifted its export ban on oil.

Canada is at a significant disadvantage when it comes to our competitive edge in the energy sector. If Liberals continue to have this uncertainty and do not have clarity, the competitive disadvantage will continue to be there.

Will there be a continental energy agreement and will there be a federal carbon tax that will further debilitate Canada's energy sector?

The EconomyAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.


Kim Rudd Liberal Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Madam Speaker, the livelihoods of thousands of families are dependent on the energy sector. I know every member of the House wants an end to the suffering in communities across the country that have been hit hard by low oil prices.

With the measures our government has announced, I am optimistic that we can rebuild the energy sector on a more sustainable footing, that we can restore the public confidence in the environmental reviews, while providing greater certainty for industry, and that together we can emerge from these challenging times to a future that is better and brighter than we could imagine.

I will disagree with my hon. colleague. Some oil producers and shippers have come to my office to talk me. They are optimistic and they are some of the best innovators in our country.

The EconomyAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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 6:59 p.m.)