July 4, 1972 (28th Parliament, 4th Session)


Hugh John Flemming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Flemming:

My opinion of the effect of this legislation on my native province is well known. I am afraid it will establish a barrier against the in-flow of capital into my province. I have expressed this view in committee and I have expressed it privately to the minister. In our part of the world we need such an in-flow of capital. New Brunswick is neighbour to the State of Maine and the New England States of the United States. They buy our goods, our livestock, our forest products, our products of the sea, things which are surplus to our own requirements. The New England states are closer to us than the markets of central Canada. I am not going to argue about what took place 105 years ago. No one knows what would have happened had those two provinces in the centre not united with the two important ones in the east to make up Canada. But we started a course of sending our goods east and west rather than north and south. In a way, perhaps, we were working against geography and the trade pattern which existed at that time, because my native province was trading very freely with the United States during that period. The province was very prosperous as, indeed, were all the Atlantic provinces.
The point to which I should like to draw the minister's attention is this. I understand the difficulties which are bound to arise in the course of the administration of this bill. I believe I am conscious of the minister's determination, and I have no reason to say I am not conscious of the government's determination, and I have no reason to say I am not conscious of the government's determination, to do some screening for the benefit of the country at large. In the event that certain propositions are likely to be definitely detrimental to Canada's interest, I would be the last person to say that action should not be taken. At the same time, I trust the minister is concerned to assure that takeovers whose effect would be desirable are not prevented simply because someone may say that such and such a company or corporation would then be owned by an outside interest. I do not intend to go into that subject, either, this afternoon. I would merely point out that the bill emphasizes the word "control" rather than "ownership". I have always believed that the really important aspect is management, the manner in which management performs relative to the community in which the business is located and to the country of which it is a part.
It is only a few weeks ago that I stood in this House and told the story of the success of an enterprise in my province which grew from a very modest beginning with the help of the government of which I was a member. Its bonds were guaranteed by that government. Today it has plants in England and in Australia; it has grown to be a tremendous international food processing company. I refer to McCain's Foods. The assistance which the government gave to that company to enable it to expand has been well justified because it has contributed to the development of the part of New Brunswick in which its major operations are centred. No unemployment problem arises there; men and women know they can always get a job at McCains. There are 1,600 people working in the province

and another 3,000 on the payrolls in connection with various activities which are not confined to Canada. Some of these activities are in Australia, others in Britain, but there has been a continual story of progress and success.
I pointed out to the House that this company produced to the government figures showing the amount of French fried potatoes being imported into Canada. It then told the government they could be manufactured in Canada and there was a market for them. As a result, we guaranteed their bonds and it never cost them a cent. My point is that had it not been for the great market to the south of this country, this company would never have existed.
I am not one who is fearful about who owns a business; what I am concerned about is who manages the business, that the business obeys the laws of the country, that it pays the prevailing wage rates, and that it contributes to the community. As for the matter of ownership, it seems to me that only in the most drastic situation should you interfere with the flow of capital coming into this country. I am not arguing that it should not be interfered with, but from the point of view of the national interest it would be well carefully to examine the situation. This is what the minister says his staff is going to do. The hon. member for Halifax-East Hants (Mr. McCleave), speaking on behalf of our party, has accepted the minister's suggestion concerning an acceptable amendment and I do not propose to differ. Naturally, I also accept the suggestion. The fact that the minister understands the views of opposition parties and is prepared to recognize those views should gratify All members of the House since it indicates that at least one occupant of the front benches is prepared'to listen to us, that our words are not falling on deaf ears. Some members of this House do not speak very often because they feel that no one pays any attention to them. Today, there has been a change in the situation; the minister is paying attention and is going to accept an amendment, and to me this is very stimulating.
At the disposal of the minister are the collective views, knowledge and experience of all 264 members of this House. As I say, he has recognized those qualities and is going to accept an amendment. I have had enough experience to know how difficult it is for ministers of the Crown to accept amendments put forward by the opposition, since the government seems to think that the opposition are going to crow about it until they are blue in the face. In this particular case, I am glad the minister has been big enough to take note of the representations that have been made. I am convinced they will be of benefit to the country, and I hope they will make his duties of administration a little less difficult.
Before concluding, Mr. Speaker, I may say I sincerely believe in consultation. I started out by saying that it was difficult to pass statutes of uniform application that are still fair. According to the minister there are going to be informal consultations, and the provinces will be consulted. Their views will be considered and so will certain other matters that affect them as well as the central government. In view of that, it seems to me we might hope that Bill C-201 will be of benefit to this great country of Canada. I see you are about to stop me, Mr. Speaker, so I
July 4, 1972

will conclude by saying that I appreciate the interest the House has shown in what I have had to say.

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