Mr. Max Saltsman (Waterloo):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to support the amendment incorporating the principle that there should be consultation with the provinces on matters related to foreign takeovers. I say that because, too often, this principle has been neglected. When we discussed this bill in committee, the question as to whether provinces should be heard arose. I was assured, and had reason to believe, that the provinces had been consulted regarding this bill and that there was some kind of agreement regarding foreign takeovers.
Our experience since then has shown that there has not been any consultations with the provinces and that this bill, whatever its value may be, is a bill that has been introduced by the federal government without consultation with the provinces. Throughout the discussions on foreign ownership and takeovers, the federal government did not appear willing to become involved with the provinces on this matter. I think that was regrettable. In the final analysis, one of two things must happen if there is to be a policy on foreign ownership. Either the provinces must agree to it, or the provinces will be confronted with it. The federal government, in acting, will need to go over the heads of the provincial governments and appeal directly to the people of Canada.
Foreign Takeovers Review Act
I realise that the insistence upon consultation with the provinces may create difficulty for the federal government because many provinces are strongly opposed to any restrictions on foreign ownership, and takeovers in particular. British Columbia does not seem to be happy about the idea, neither does Alberta. The Mantimes are too desperate to look any gift horse in the mouth. The debate over foreign ownership appears to arise mainly in a couple of the prairie provinces and in the great province of Ontario. This being the case, it would be a great error to try to slide into a policy without consulting the provinces. Sooner or later a conflict is bound to arise between the federal government and one or more of the provincial governments should the federal government intend to act at all. Before we can advance further, it may, I suggest, be necessary to bring about a polarization of opinion on the question of foreign ownership.
Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether, in your wisdom, you might try to do something about the acoustics in the chamber.
Subtopic: FOREIGN TAKEOVERS REVIEW ACT