Mr. Speaker, the world has changed in recent years. It is a reality that all people in this place need to confront themselves with on behalf of their constituents. What I mean by saying that the world has changed is that there are more state actors or other countries that are becoming increasingly hostile to the interests of our country and our constituents.
As this is happening, we need to remind ourselves that our duty in this place is to protect our national sovereignty so that our constituents have bright, prosperous and safe futures, free from persecution, free from the influence of other nations that do not share our country's values of freedom, liberty, personal opportunity and diversity. These are all things we have to work really hard to maintain.
Maintaining and defending Canada's national sovereignty is a big job. There are a lot of different aspects. There is maintaining our national defence and our defensive capacity. The government really has not done a good job of that, frankly.
What we are debating today is whether we have adequate protections for our economy, in terms of protecting our national sovereignty.
When we think about hostile nation-states wanting to exert influence on our country, sometimes we are tempted to think about that problem in really Hollywood-like terms, with planes coming in and invading our country. We have, in recent days, had incursions into our airspace, which sort of proves my point further.
One of the big ways our national sovereignty has been threatened is by the lack of a legal framework and tools that prevent hostile state actors from influencing our economy in negative ways.
What I mean by that are things like being able to purchase major components of Canada's natural resources, particularly critical minerals like lithium, or even hostile state actors being able to own intellectual property on really important things for protecting national sovereignty in the future like, let us say, quantum computing.
We have a duty in this place to ensure that, with respect to nations that do not share our values but, in fact, show hostility, aggression and a desire to erode Canada's sovereignty, we put in place safeguards to prevent them from doing so.
What I think this Liberal government has done with this bill is to try to distract Canadians. They are trying to say “oh, here is a bill that might do some things”, but it really does not get to the heart of the fact that, as I have said, the world has changed and that, given that, we need to have very strong protections to ensure our sovereignty is protected. It needs protection in terms of hostile state actors influencing our economy or, in fact, even taking resources, intellectual property or other things back to their nations that could, in turn, be used to threaten our country and the people we all represent.
I do not think this bill is adequate at all. I want to talk about why, and what the government should be doing to protect our sovereignty, in terms of these economic measures.
Right now, if a state-owned enterprise, a company that is owned, in part or wholly, by another government, another country, wants to buy, let us say, a mine or something like that, that transaction should be subject to a review, both in terms of national security and in terms of whether this transaction is in the best interests of Canadians.
What this bill wants to do is take away the weak, inadequate process that exists right now, and instead of having it go through a cabinet process, where there are people from across the country, different portfolios, different lenses, looking at this, to put all that power into one minister.
I have a big concern with the government, given what it did with SNC-Lavalin. When the Prime Minister was confronted with a cabinet minister who did her job and said, “Whoa, I am not doing this”, he just shunted her aside and replaced her with a minister who was more acquiescent.
I am very hesitant to give the government, and particularly the Prime Minister, power here. Let us say he is under the influence of other nations or under lobbying influence, as we saw in the SNC-Lavalin scandal. If he is faced with that type of pressure again, I do not think he has the chops to stand firm in the best interests of Canadians because he has proven otherwise.
With this bill, the fact that issues would not go to cabinet waters down the process, which should be of grave concern to all Canadians. Certainly an amendment should be considered to remove that process. They should go to cabinet. I cannot understand why they would not.
The other thing to note is that because the world has changed, we know there are countries and state actors that employ this type of capital, like state-owned enterprises, to try to purchase major parts of the Canadian economy. There is a really high threshold in terms of dollar value for what would trigger a review under the current process. For certain countries, I feel that threshold should be zero.
There are some countries that we know are acting against the interests of Canadians and are arguably challenging our sovereignty. Any time those countries want to buy up some of our critical resources or critical intellectual property, there should be an automatic national security review to review whether this is in the best interests of the country. Then parliamentarians and the government can show accountability to our constituents and show that we are not just letting countries be hostile to our country by buying up parts of it. I think that threshold should be zero, and it should be amended in this bill.
There should also be a list of countries that have shown aggression and hostility to this country or to our allies so that they automatically get a review. If they are on this list, there is automatically a review for this type of transaction. That should also be an amendment in this bill.
The other thing to note is that the bill talks about just looking at acquisitions of companies. It is not looking at the acquisition of assets. What do I mean by that? I know there have been a lot of concerns about certain countries that have been hostile to Canada buying up farmland in Canada or buying up critical mines that produce things like lithium. This is of course a substance used in really important things like batteries. It is a really rare earth mineral, and it is important we retain sovereignty of it. If these hostile state actors are trying to avoid scrutiny by our government through a back door, there should be an asset review.
I want to circle back to why I do not think power should be consolidated in the hands of the minister. This week, our Ethics Commissioner said in an article, “The act has been there for 17 years for God’s sake”. He essentially talks about the Prime Minister, the cabinet and a lot of members in the Liberal Party not having a moral compass to know what is right and wrong, not holding the cabinet to account and letting this leader continue.
This is why the bill needs to be amended. There is too much power concentrated in a group of people who think they can get away with things that are in their best interest. When we are talking about maintaining national sovereignty, we need more safeguards and not less for these types of economic transactions.
In closing, I want to talk about what my colleague from Saskatchewan said. This morning, there was a report that said the Chinese Communist Party was directly influencing elections here in Canada. Our sovereignty is under threat, and we should be ensuring strict safeguards. We should be acknowledging the world has changed and that our constituents deserve greater levels of protection, and should be looking at how assets might be produced or taken from Canada and potentially used against us in the future.
I am worried that because this bill does so little and waters down the fiduciary authority of cabinet to look at these transactions, we are putting ourselves in a more precarious position as opposed to a stronger position, particularly given the ethical lapses of the government and particularly given the inability of the Liberal backbenchers to stand up and hold their ministers, who give contracts to their friends, to account. The Prime Minister has had two ethics violations. How is he still the leader of their party? Because of the lack of moral compass the Ethics Commissioner talked about, there need to be amendments to this bill.