Hon. Iean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce):
Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I should in the first place thank the hon. member for Edmonton West (Mr. Lambert) for some of his comments on the importance of Bill C-201. So many people have stated that the bill was a pip-squeak or nothing, etc., that it is good to hear an hon. member acknowledge the importance of the concepts involved and admit that the application of that bill will be quite difficult. I am one of those who have said so on many occasions since the beginning of the debate. In fact, the consideration of takeovers from an administrative point of view would be so complex, that if the government had wanted to go any further, it would have been reluctant to do so, due to the tremendous administrative task involved. I therefore thank the hon. member for Edmonton West for having used this argument in my stead,
July 4, 1972
because I tried to do it several times without much success, I confess. However I am not going to go as far as the hon. member for Edmonton West concerning the debate on the constitutionality of Bill C-201 nor concerning the point he raised as to whether the way of taxation would not be better to defend the Canadian interests than that of the examination of takeovers. I do not agree with him either concerning his request to get the opinion of the provinces. As I said in committee, provincial politicians have excellent channels of communication with the people and when they want to say to the federal government where to go or what they think of certain federal initiatives, they usually find a way to do it without our having to show them the proper way. So, if some provinces have not said in public all that they have told the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Gray), it is because they did not want to reveal their attitude. What they have said in public was what they wanted the people to know regarding their position.
Nor do I follow the hon. member for Waterloo (Mr. Saltsman) in his analysis of Canadian federalism as regards foreign investment. I shall only keep to the two amendments now before us, and to remind hon. members about them, I shall read them. The amendment of the hon. member for Fundy-Royal (Mr. Fairweather) aims at changing clause 2(2) concerning factors to be considered in rulings on the approval of takeovers. The hon. member for Fundy-Royal suggests the following addition and I quote:
after consultation by the Minister with each province that is likely to be significantly affected . . . the effect of the acquisition on the industrial and economic policies of each such province.
In other words, should we accept such an amendment, the federal government would have in each case of takeover to consider the effect of that acquisition on the economic and industrial policies of each province "significantly affected" by the said takeover.
Amendment No. 18 which we are also considering provides that the minister, in conducting a review of a takeover, and I quote:
-shall consult with the appointed representative of the province or provinces concerned with the proposed acquisition.
These two amendments are joined for discussion.
In committee, Mr. Speaker, I tried to indicate the reason why it was impossible for the federal government to commit itself to formal, compulsory consultation because this would be giving in a significant way to the province or provinces concerned an explicit or implicit right of veto over a takeover.
I indicated however that the government was committed to a maximum of consultations, of informal consultations having to do specifically with a particular takeover, and also general consultations having to do with takeovers as a whole with respect to policy.
In committee, we also adopted an amendment that has become sub-clause (2) of clause 13, if I remember well, which does away with the obligation that the minister had previously of securing the consent of the parties concerned in a takeover before consulting the provinces.
Foreign Takeovers Review Act
Because of representations made by some provinces and of opinions expressed by some members of the committee, the matter was put aside.
The bill in its present form empowers the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce to consult with the provinces in future cases of takeovers. However, subsection (2) of clause 13 does indicate the following:
on such terms and conditions and under such circumstances as are approved by the Minister.
In other words, the Minister is free to consult with the provinces or not, according to circumstances.
The amendment proposed by the hon. member for Fundy-Royal-again it must be re-read if it has not been done already-is not very accurate on certain points which I wish to emphasize to some extent. Unfortunately, he did not do so himself when he moved it. I am very sorry he did not have the time to do it. That was on June 26. He did not tell us then whether or not the consultation with the province or provinces concerned would be compulsory. He did not say anything about that, at least not according to his remarks. If the hon. member for Edmonton West thinks that the hon. member for Fundy-Royal made himself clearer than I think, than I claim he did, then he should point it out to me.
According to this amendment, we do not know whether the consultation will be compulsory or not. Does the hon. member know?
Subtopic: FOREIGN TAKEOVERS REVIEW ACT