Mr. David MacDonald (Egmont):
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Pepin), as well as other government members, joined in a chorus of apologies for the bill which is before us today. Last night the hon. member for Ontario (Mr. Cafik) took us on a global tour of not only the other provinces and their views, but also other countries and other legislation in this field. When one sees what other countries are doing in the field covered by this legislation, one wonders whether it is fair to say there is no place like home. On the problem of development, particularly in areas of regional economic disparity, it is true we face problems of development not only in economically and socially deprived parts of the country but we know that such development in Canada has been spotty, dominated often by one important economic group or foreign group. Surely, the spotty
and somewhat erratic economic development of Canada has occurred because there has never been a coherent set of guidelines for either foreign or domestic investment and development in Canada.
One of the major tragedies, if not the major tragedy, of the legislation we are discussing today is that the bill before us accepts the status quo. It accepts in both complacency and naivete a situation wherein complete sectors of our economy seem destined to remain in the present state. This is something which I do not believe members of this House, or indeed the Canadian people, should be forced to accept. When we deal with something as difficult and complex as corporate behaviour in a modern and complex society, we know that to some extent the corporate structure is parallel to government. It is parallel with the official levels of government. Particularly, it has the force of government. A corporation which employs most of the men of a town or a community within a province indeed controls and influences the lives of those men far more directly than any local, municipal, provincial or even federal government. Indeed, while governments very often deal with what people cannot do, corporations and employers often determine directly or indirectly what people can do.
So, it is not difficult to see why the entire issue of foreign ownership is such a particularly sensitive one. In many ways, those who speak of examining the directorships of corporations for Canadian representation, those who speak of full disclosure, are talking about examining the workings of corporate governments. Yet, despite the ruffled sentiments that this type of proposal causes, I believe we should be committed to these things because they are in the interests of Canadians. It is important for Canadians that the facts about corporate behaviour be known. The composition of directorates should be a matter of public record so that Canadian participation can be determined. I am disturbed by the fact that most recently the government, through the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, has written off so quickly the importance or usefulness of having increased Canadian participation in the board rooms. It has been suggested that just having Canadians as directors would not substantially alter the situation.
Subtopic: FOREIGN TAKEOVERS REVIEW ACT
Sub-subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR CONTROL OF FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF CANADIAN COMPANIES