Mr. Gordon Ritchie (Dauphin):
Mr. Speaker, before the dinner hour I was pointing out that the oil and gas industry had brought to western Canada an estimated one million in population, or 20 per cent of the population of the west. With our period of high unemployment during the last two decades, I was posing the question where these one million would have found a living, whether in Toronto or Montreal. Certainly, without United States capital the oil industry would not be nearly as far advanced as it is today.
Then, again, I pointed out that recent discussions have been going on in this House and the country at large over the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline. Looked at in a dispassionate way, it seems that the best route for bringing oil and gas from the Arctic is down the Mackenzie Valley and into continental North America. Construction of this valley pipeline really depends upon whether Alas-
June 5, 1972
Foreign Takeovers Review Act kan ecologists can convince the United States government that a pipeline through Alaska is not in the best public interest.
In view of the efforts of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce and other people involved, including those who build tankers and people on the west coast and in the United States who need oil, it is likely the Alaska pipeline is the one that will be chosen. What about our own position? It is considered that a $5 billion pipeline is clearly beyond our capacity as a nation to build on our own in the immediate future. This seems to be another example of what will happen without foreign investment because it will be a considerable time before a pipeline is built down the Mackenzie Valley.
The 13 Liberal rebels have expressed dissatisfaction with the government's proposed legislation. They consider it weak and inadequate. These hon. members are all from Ontario, the province which has benefited most from foreign investment as shown by the Ontario government survey. This is also the area which has access to large amounts of Canadian capital.
The proposed takeover committee implies massive government scrutiny of Canadian business. There is great concern professed in respect of what the private sector is doing, yet almost half our gross national income is being spent by the three levels of government. It is time the government reconsidered what it is doing. Surely there is now less leeway for the private sector to have initiative on its own. Presumably, in respect of foreign takeovers each company will be required to manufacture and trade in the interests of the country.
The greatest difficulty is, of course, that the committee will be almost completely political. We will have the same situation as under Bill C-176, the marketing act, where the government will determine where the agricultural industry is to be located. We already have, in the Canadian Dairy Commission, a body that locates industry using politics rather than the market as the determining factor. This new act also will allow the government to decide where industrial activity will take place in Canada. In view of the regional character of Canada, it seems to me past experience has shown that industrial activity will take place in those areas which have the largest representation in Parliament, and this means central Canada.
The necessity of the committee always making decisions with politics foremost in mind is the main weakness of this board concept. Surely the demand on the members of the committee will be so great that it will only make a superficial examination of takeovers. With all the questions involved, such as how many jobs will be created, will Canadian management be employed, will money be spent on research and development, and will export markets be developed-all very nebulous and difficult to answer-I do not think a committee could more than superficially examine any particular problem. Every new company hopes it can accomplish these things but only time will tell whether they are successful.
If the committee functions in any sort of meaningful way in attempting to assess any proposition, it will be years behind in that assessment. It will have many of the
problems which face the Russian state planners. It seems likely that this committee in practice will not function unless it is willing to assume a very large role in the Canadian economy. It certainly is a vehicle by which discrimination against the peripheral parts of the country could be carried on. I hope that when the bill reaches committee many of these aspects in relation to the potentially very powerful committee will be thoroughly investigated. At that time we will have an opportunity to discuss how the committee might best function.
Subtopic: FOREIGN TAKEOVERS REVIEW ACT
Sub-subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR CONTROL OF FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF CANADIAN COMPANIES