Hon. Marcel Lambert (Edmonton West):
Mr. Speaker, I think the minister has indicated that there is an ambiguity in the bill. I am sure he realizes that the people who put forward suggestions for these amendments are cognizant of certain features of the equipment leasing business that may have escaped himself and his advisers. It must be remembered that the forms of transactions possible are legion, and one cannot say that a leased business must be of a stereotyped nature, making it easy for the minister to determine from the beginning that the transaction should not be one to come under the legislation.
On the other hand, as one can readily understand, there is the need for non-eligible financial institutions, of which we have a great number in Canada, to acquire goods from Canadian companies for the purpose of leasing them to Canadian businesses. Because of the wording of the legislation, the minister knows that a subsidiary, or a participant in a syndicate with a non-eligible person, causes the whole group to become non-eligible. For instance, let us look at the equipment leasing organizations that provide equipment leasing facilities for a number of the chartered banks. They are in competition with Citibank of New York, through Mercantile, but the Mercantile Bank is able through its affiliates-not its subsidiaries-owned by Citibank of New York and operating in Montreal, to engage in very extensive equipment leasing operations. And remember that the transactions between Citibank and its affiliates in Montreal are not subject to screening by the minister, but on the other hand transactions engaged in for the Canadian banks, in the Canadian context, could be subject to screening.
The acquisition of the equipment from Canadian companies-and in a road-building firm, say, this is the whole of their business-would be a transaction that would be subject to the screen. The minister says no, but I am willing to put a nickel on it that this will be the type of practice that would go through the screen. This is what concerns me, Mr. Speaker, that the actual practice will not be what the minister says it is going to be, but a lot tougher. What is done is to make Canadian business operations competitive with foreign business operations so that Canadians will not have to go and lease in the United States.
What about our Canadian multinationals, our oil drilling companies? They are going to go abroad. They have to buy equipment and finance it. I would not be surprised if it became to the advantage of our Canadian multinational corporations operating abroad to acquire their equipment abroad because of these requirements. I have always tried to point out that Canadian companies operating offshore will find it to their advantage to enter into transactions in other countries instead of acquiring Canadian machinery. This will now not be subject to any screen or control. I am concerned that by creating difficulties in Canada we are making it much more difficult for Canadian business to operate.
Subtopic: FOREIGN TAKEOVERS REVIEW ACT