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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Willowdale (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Negotiations with the European Union December 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, we could engage in a much longer debate about softwood lumber between Canada and the United States, but for the purposes of the discussions with the European Union, I take the point as a very valid one and it is an excellent example of our need to diversify our markets.

My colleague also mentioned phytosanitary issues. We know that is also a question for some of our Canadian agriculture and agri-food sectors as a non-tariff barrier. It is one of the examples of why the CIDA negotiations with Europe are very interesting. It is because they are not just the trade in goods. These discussions are comprehensive and they are there specifically to address some of these issues like the non-tariff barriers and these regulatory aspects that have created challenges for some of our producers. I am very pleased to see that. I know my colleague is also very pleased to see that those issues are top of mind. Among the Canadian negotiators, they know full well these are of a concern to us.

The European Union provides an extraordinary market for a large number of Canadian farmers and people involved in the agri-food business. I thank my hon. colleague for raising this issue. It is one on which we do agree.

Economic Negotiations with the European Union December 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I will do my best to answer all four questions.

I would love to see a copy of the legal opinion to which he refers and I look forward to reading that.

Outsourcing is a good thing. This is an opportunity for Canadian companies to become even more globally competitive. I do not see Canada as being a destination for low cost labour. We want Canadian jobs but we want good Canadian jobs and we want to ensure those Canadian companies are able to participate in the global environment.

If there is another country that has a specific type of opportunity that Canada does not offer, then, yes, outsourcing where it makes a Canadian company with those revenues that come to Canada and which also employs other Canadians so they benefit from the success of that company. The short answer is that there are a number of cases where outsourcing is important. I understand the concern for Canadian jobs but ultimately successful Canadian businesses enhance the opportunity for Canadian jobs and, if a certain amount of outsourcing is part of that game plan, then it is a good idea.

I would also like to address the question about supply management. The position of the Liberal Party is clear. The position of the Conservative Party is clear. All parties in the House have made it very clear that they support supply management. Yes, I believe it is on the table. I was never told that it was not. We need to understand that the European Union lives in its own glass house in terms of agricultural subsidies and in terms of other support for certain agricultural sectors. We also know that it will be a little bit difficult for anyone at that table to point too many fingers. I will also say that there are a number of agricultural sectors in Canada, such as beef, pork and some of the other crops, that do not participate in supply management and--

Economic Negotiations with the European Union December 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I rise to speak today in support of the negotiations for a comprehensive economic and trade agreement, a CETA, between Canada and the European Union.

Dialogue on CETA began in 2009 and the fifth round of negotiations concluded recently here in Ottawa. According to all stakeholders, the meetings went very smoothly and more quickly than expected, and we hope that CETA will be complete by 2011.

Comprising 27 member states, with a total population of nearly 500 million, the European Union is the world's largest single market, foreign investor and trader. As an integrated bloc, the EU represents Canada's second largest trading partner in goods and services.

Before discussing the details of CETA, I should point out that we in the Liberal party want multilateral WTO-led trade negotiations to continue, and we want Canada to push harder in promoting multilateralism. We do, however, recognize the practical constraints and difficulties inherent in this. Therefore, if it is impossible to move ahead with multilateral agreements for the time being, we encourage Canada to focus on bilateral agreements, which will enable us to increase our trade with other countries. It is our belief that if the details of these bilateral agreements are properly worked out, that they will not be an impediment to the adoption of future multilateral agreements.

Canada is a nation that supports free trade, indeed one that was founded on trade. Our origins are those of a trading nation, starting with fur, wood and minerals. We have only moved forward from there.

Trade accounts for a significantly greater portion of our overall economic activity than many other nations. Indeed, 80% of our economy and millions of Canadian jobs depend on trade and our ability to access foreign markets.

There are always those on both sides who will advocate for the protection of certain sectors or industries. Some of that is based on some very valid concerns. However, increasingly the idea of protectionism does not recognize global realities. The Liberal Party has in fact called for Canada to embrace and build on the concept of global networks.

This CETA is indeed far more comprehensive than any traditional free trade agreement. It promises so much more. It offers a more comprehensive arrangement, even, than NAFTA. This is critical because trade as we speak of it is now so much more than just the exchange of goods.

The Conference Board of Canada refers to this as integrative trade, the combination of services trade, global and regional value chains, investment and sales by foreign affiliates, flows of people, knowledge and technologies, electronic trade in goods and services, and the linkages between goods and services.

From the Conference Board of Canada:

Instead of asking where to create an entire product or service, businesses now ask where is the best place to locate each unique activity, business function or task: design, engineering, manufacturing, marketing, after-sales service, etc.

Value can be added at each stage of the value chain, and services are integral to the effective functioning of the entire value chain itself. People and the movement of people, knowledge and ideas are in turn integral to the whole.

We Canadians are awfully proud of RIM, the makers of the BlackBerry. It is an excellent example of a globally integrated product. Its hundreds of parts come from all over the world. Again, quoting from the Conference Board of Canada:

Research in Motion's Waterloo factory specializes in new product introduction. This includes building and testing prototypes and scaling up manufacturing of new models ready for market. Then, to reduce manufacturing costs, the company outsources manufacturing to partners in Hungary and Mexico. The company's partners then sell Hungarian-made BlackBerrys to customers in Europe and Asia, and Mexican-made ones in the Americas. Along with the physical BlackBerry, consumers worldwide buy related contracts for data and voice service. As a result, RIM receives service revenues from the wireless carriers—translating into a “meaningful portion” of RIM's revenue. The company also has one physical store in the US, and it provides global after-sales technical support from Canada (Halifax).

This is an example of the foundation of the Liberal Party's emphasis on global networks, that we should increase exchange and co-operation in areas such as financial services; transportation and logistics; higher education, research and development; energy, natural resources and sustainability; health care and health promotion; innovations and best practices; food safety and security; culture, entertainment and tourism; immigration; and so importantly, labour mobility, the exchange of people, knowledge and ideas.

The future of Canada in this competitive world must embrace the new global realities. Our future is not just trade in goods. It is trade in goods, services and services linked to goods, as well as in the value chains associated with all of those together.

Our future is not just in exports across borders to end users. It is in those highly integrated value chains of exports and imports that can cross borders, sometimes many times.

Our future is not just selling products across borders to foreign markets. It lies in finding where we can best contribute in the various value chains, where we in Canada can benefit from other inputs from elsewhere and in embracing the opportunities presented by both.

CETA is good for Canada, because it will allow a much greater level of exchange not only of goods but of services, people, knowledge and ideas. It will allow Canadian enterprises to diversify beyond the United States, upon which we are much too dependent and whose long-term economic strength is questionable.

We must diversify.

There will be challenges, and Canada does need to watch for areas of particular concern to Canadians.

Canadian agriculture and agrifood enterprises, farmers and processors, stand to gain a great deal from increased access to such a large market, but there is major public opinion in Europe against genetically modified organisms, GMOs, much of which is not based in science but is nonetheless very emotional. Canada needs to work at educating the Europeans on this issue.

Public procurement may be contentious, and we must be willing to have a full debate on the pros and cons of opening or keeping closed public procurement at different levels of government. There are legitimate concerns in this area.

As far as the arts and culture are concerned, there needs to be a focus on the debate pitting protectionism against expansionism. There will be a debate on the breadth and scope of future developments in this area.

We have to be careful.

Intellectual property protection—copyright, infringements and patents, specifically in relation to medicines and the life sciences—is already a focus of debate, and Canada is being told that its credentials are not sufficiently solid in this regard.

It is a rare occasion when different parties in this House agree on something. The pursuit of a CETA with the EU is one of those.

We Liberals will continue to be vigilant to ensure that the government does not bargain away too much and that we do not sacrifice some of the things that we Canadians hold dear. We will also hold the government to account in terms of ensuring that full advantage is taken of this deal. We offer to work together to see that the agricultural sectors, SMEs in all sectors, arts and cultural sectors and other Canadian enterprises get the help they need to take full advantage of what a CETA with the EU can offer.

Economic Negotiations with the European Union December 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I would like to ask the member opposite a question.

He knows very well that the Liberals are very supportive of this agreement, but there have been some legitimate concerns raised, partly because people are not necessarily sure of the details of what is being negotiated. We hear issues raised in the media, and I am hoping that the member opposite can speak to two specific issues.

Where are we in the negotiations in terms of water and water services, particularly at the municipal level? That is an issue that has been raised, and if he could add some specifics as to what may be being negotiated, that would be very helpful.

As well, on the larger procurement side, we know that public procurement is on the table. We also recognize that there are Canadian enterprises that are poised to take advantage of those opportunities in member countries of the European Union, but there have been legitimate concerns raised about how far we will go in offering up public procurement at different levels of government here in Canada, where there may be some concerns about local jobs and concerns about flexibility.

I am hoping the member opposite can answer both of those questions.

Business of Supply November 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I do not even know where to start with that one.

I am proud to be a member of a party in which we are allowed to have dissenting opinions. I am proud to be a member of a party where that is allowed to show. I am proud to be a member where we are not only allowed but encouraged to engage in substantive debate on some of these tough issues.

I hope that my colleagues in the New Democratic Party understand that although I personally may have some issues with the specifics in the motion, that does not mean there is not support for the motion. It means that at least one of us is willing to offer constructive suggestions, to engage in debate--

Business of Supply November 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, how I welcome that question, because the fact that there were no refusals addresses two of the points that I made in my speech.

One is that it reinforces how the Liberal Party very strongly welcomes foreign investment. That is a fundamental truth.

The other one is that when the process was undertaken, unlike apparently this one where the minister himself suggested last night that the department was not involved because the department did not come up with the recommendation, in all of those others cases, I can assure the hon. member that the department was very much involved in all of the discussions.

In fact, there were a lot more potential acquisitions which in those discussions did not proceed, because the acquirers were not led down the garden path to believe that they might actually succeed, and did not spend all sorts of time and money in order to get there, only to be told no at the last minute. At least in the process undertaken under a Liberal government, some of those acquisitions did not happen because of very good and extensive, substantive discussions prior to engaging in the process.

Business of Supply November 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to continuing the discussion about how to elaborate fully on the criteria for net benefit, which the country so desperately needs. I do encourage much greater transparency in the process, as do all Liberals. We do support that, absolutely.

Personally, I have some concerns about the extensive list of required benefits, simply because from my business background, I do understand that in some cases there may be significant benefit in some areas but not necessarily in others.

It speaks exactly to the problem that we do need to clarify the criteria of net benefit. They may not all be cumulative. They may not all have to be there at the same time. In some cases, being able to accomplish one may prevent a business from accomplishing all of the others. It is in the nature of international businesses and the nature of foreign investment.

I appreciate the effort absolutely. There are some details in the motion that I personally struggle with, but I think the hon. member knows that my heart is in the right place.

Business of Supply November 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am not rendered speechless very often, but I am somewhat taken aback by the fact that one of the members from Saskatchewan has finally spoken and has had the nerve to refer to an incident that was in fact proved to be completely wrong. The member for Wascana was shown to have the utmost integrity and had nothing to do with any of the allegations. With all respect, the member opposite should be very, very careful about raising allegations that have been proved to be untrue.

I will also address the concern there might be in the process of the Investment Canada Act. The member opposite is absolutely right, in that I happen to have some significant familiarity with the legalities of Investment Canada rules. He knows very well there are not the restrictions he is pretending to hide behind. He also knows very well that of all of the people who do have an obligation during that period, members of the cabinet and the Prime Minister have the largest of those responsibilities. For the Prime Minister to stand in the House and suggest erroneously two things, that Potash Corporation was an American controlled company which is absolutely false, and that in his view an Australian company taking over an American company did not matter to him, one, is completely false and two, showed an immense amount of bias that was completely improper on behalf of the Prime Minister. It has sullied the process.

Business of Supply November 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to resume my comments on the motion on the Investment Canada Act, in particular the current issue under discussion about the recently declined offer by BHP Billiton and the takeover of Potash. It is not completely a no. We are well aware of the fact that there are 30 more days for further developments.

I am pleased to rise again after my initial remarks and I will take the opportunity to repeat a couple of things, although I will do so in French.

What we need is a strategic vision and a great deal more leadership for Canadian resources. We know that Potash Corporation represents resources that are extremely important, not only for Saskatchewan, but also for the entire country.

Yesterday evening the government, the minister and probably the Prime Minister made a decision, and we all thank the hon. member for Wascana, who is a special member, one of the 14 members from Saskatchewan, but the only one who worked very hard for the people of Saskatchewan and indeed for all Canadians. He is the one who demonstrated that foreign ownership of Potash Corporation would turn out to be a very bad decision because of the strategic importance of the company.

The 13 Conservative members from Saskatchewan had nothing to say. Nothing at all. In the midst of all these discussions and knowing the clear views of the majority of citizens in Saskatchewan, the majority of Canadians, the Premier of Saskatchewan, the Premier of Alberta, the Premier of Manitoba and so many others, the 13 Conservative members from Saskatchewan said nothing, and sat back and did nothing. But that is not necessarily their fault. What is really disappointing for us is that it is clear that the Prime Minister's Office controls everything.

Some members cannot even speak and cannot even act in the best interest of their constituents, the people of Saskatchewan and the people of this country. That is really unfortunate. Our country has a very serious problem right now if certain members of Parliament cannot speak and cannot defend the interests of the people who elected them.

It is a little awkward having a speech that gets broken up by question period and significant events. Therefore, I will reiterate a couple of concerns that I raised at the beginning of my speech.

There is value in foreign investment in Canada but it is important to have a clear delineation of what net benefit means in this country. We in the Liberal Party are very supportive of foreign investment. People have said a number of times over the last couple of decades that there have only been two, this being the second, proposed foreign investments that have been refused. The first one was based on security issues. During the Liberal government and the Conservative government before that none had been refused.

In past Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments, the Liberals have indicated sincere and enthusiastic support for foreign investment. What we are now seeing is the complete lack of transparency and understanding in this process of what on earth net benefit means.

We have a Prime Minister who has completely flip-flopped in the space of two weeks in terms of what his own personal preference might have been. We have a minister who said in his announcement that the department made no recommendation. How on earth could the department not make a recommendation when it has so many people who are talented and hard-working? How the minister could say that there was no recommendation is beyond comprehension. It really speaks to the control of this kind of decision-making within the Prime Minister's Office.

The larger concern is that it completely muddies any understanding of what net benefit is in this country. Of all of the proposed acquisitions that we have dealt with over the last couple of decades, there have been a number that did not go through. They did not have to go through the formal process and did not have to be denied but there was enough involvement by members of the department and back and forth discussion with potential buyers.

In a number of cases acquisitions did not go through because that was clarified and made clear to the potential acquirers before they wasted their time and money going through the entire process.

We have seen now that this complete lack of clarity has allowed a company like BHP Billiton to go this far, only to be denied. Had we had a much clearer definition of net benefit to Canada, it would make foreign investment more likely. This is the point I very much want to stress. For those of us who are very strong supporters of increased foreign investment, this potash arrangement should not be seen as anything other than an issue related to a very distinct, strategic resource. This is not to be taken as an indication of Canada's overall enthusiasm in welcoming foreign investment.

What we do need is for potential foreign investors to know what the rules are before they waste time and money proposing acquisitions and investments in Canada. Although I do not support all of the aspects of today's motion, I do support a significantly greater level of transparency. Not only do we support the provision of a significantly greater level of detail in terms of what net benefit actually means, but we call on the government to provide it.

In that regard I want to mention the incredible work by the member for Wascana who has worked tirelessly in support of the best interests of Saskatchewan. I also want to mention the noticeable silence on the part of 13 Conservative members of Parliament from Saskatchewan. I have a real concern about the level of control by the Prime Minister's Office and the silencing of members of Parliament. On the commercial side, I want to stress that we do encourage foreign investment, but we are turning it away by being unclear in what we require in terms of net benefit.

I welcome any questions and look forward to having continued discussion with my colleagues.

Business of Supply November 4th, 2010

Madam Speaker, clearly that pricked a little bit of a nerve over there, and I can imagine why.

I can absolutely imagine why, because when those people campaigned, they certainly did not campaign on the promise to stay silent. They certainly did not promise to stay quiet when the best interests of Saskatchewan and the best interests of Canada were at stake.

This was a situation where people of Saskatchewan, including the premier of Saskatchewan, were overwhelmingly saying that this would be a problem, and 13 Conservative members of Parliament from Saskatchewan were only able to sit on their hands. This is not criticism of them personally; it is a criticism of the atmosphere in the government that simply does not allow dissent, does not allow any other kind of debate, and I am very concerned about the fact that we have 13 members of Parliament who simply were unable to speak on behalf of their constituents.

I will go on to another question. When the Minister of Industry yesterday made his announcement, he said something I found rather extraordinary. He said the department, which he heads, made no recommendation. I might be not quite right, but if I remember correctly, the words were “the department made no recommendation”. This is the Investment Canada Act. This is the Ministry of Industry. This is part of its job and there are some extraordinarily talented, hard-working people in that department. For the last number of weeks there has been a great number of people focused on this. This is one of the biggest issues in Canada today, if not the biggest issue facing Canada right now in terms of what the ministry and what the department had to decide on. How is it possible, after all that time and guaranteed a significant amount of work by some very capable people, that the department made no recommendation?

I would suggest that is another example of the need by the government to control its message, to make sure there was no message before the Prime Minister made a decision. Let us not kid ourselves. This was very much from the Prime Minister's Office. This was not the Minister of Industry's decision on his own. But to deny the fact and to say that the entire department did not make a recommendation, I find extraordinarily hard to believe. It is another example of the deterioration of the entire governance process in this country that the people who we have working in government, supposedly on a non-partisan basis, to give advice to the government on an acquisition this significant for Saskatchewan, and for Canada as a whole, that those capable people apparently made no recommendation. We have to seriously question the role of the Prime Minister's Office and the minister in taking upon themselves alone the entire decision-making process in this regard.

I would also like to ask a question about net benefit. This does speak to the motion. I am not in agreement with all parts of the motion that is being proposed, but I do support significant portions of it that do call for greater transparency. We do not know what the government thinks net benefit means. In that regard, I would like to stress that I, as a representative of the Liberal Party, support foreign investment. We very strongly support foreign investment. Indeed, as other members of the House mentioned, we have had a great number of acquisitions in the last couple of decades, whichever government was in power, whether it be Liberal or Conservative. This will only be the second refusal, the first one having been based on national security.

There have been a number of other acquisitions that did not proceed, not because there was an open door without any restrictions, but because the process that we had undertaken had established certain examples of what would be required. So in those discussions the members of the department were able to suggest to the proposed acquirers that they were not going to meet the net benefit test and therefore the acquisitions did not proceed. So it is a mistake to say that no acquisition was ever refused. However I would say that within that context, the ones that were approved were an indication of just how open we are to foreign investment. That is a very important process. It is a very important thing for the Canadian economy.

However, we do have to determine the parameters and the criteria associated with net benefit. We do have to make this clear not only for ourselves, not only for the departmental workers who work so hard to help these processes along, but we also need to clarify the criteria of net benefit specifically in order to encourage foreign investment.

A potential acquirer, no matter where it might be in the world, will look at Canada, and this one is an even more egregious example because it is such a big acquisition and we have had no description of what net benefit is, none. A potential acquirer somewhere else in the world could look at Canada and say it is a wonderful place to invest. It has a wonderfully educated population. It has great winters. In all seriousness, it has a tremendous investment climate. However, a potential acquirer would have to wonder what would be the decision at the end. If the potential acquirer does not know what the criteria are, for example, if it does not know that it needs to maintain a head office in Canada, if it does not know for sure that it will need to maintain a certain number of jobs, if it does not know that there are going to be certain other requirements, it will be that much more loath and less inclined to even start the process for a potential acquisition in this country.

We, as Liberals, are very concerned about the need to establish much more detailed definitions of what net benefit means. That would in fact encourage foreign investment because right now we have a government decision that negates all the efforts of the department, that does not clarify what net benefit means and thus creates more confusion than there was to begin with.

Madam Speaker, I will continue this speech after question period.