Mr. Jim Manly (Cowichan-Malahat-The Islands):
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have the opportunity to make a few remarks on this fourth group of amendments and to indicate my support, as well as that of other New Democrats, for Motion Nos. 19 and 20. Motion No. 19 was moved by the Hon. Member for Winnipeg-Fort Garry (Mr. Axworthy), and Motion No. 20 was moved on behalf of the Hon. Member for Essex-Windsor (Mr. Langdon).
Investment Canada Act
Both of these motions relate to Clause 6 of the Bill which reads:
There is hereby established an agency, to be known as Investment Canada, to advise and assist the Minister in exercising his powers and performing his duties under this Act.
Both of these motions are intended to ensure that this agency known as Investment Canada will have a degree of independence and will be able to perform the functions for which it is intended. While Investment Canada is supposed to assist the Minister, we believe that the assistance the Minister needs must be of a very broad nature.
Motion No. 20 reads:
That Bill C-15, be amended in Clause 6 by adding immediately after line 14 at page 5 the following:
"(2) The Agency shall have the power to ask for policy directives from the
Governor in Council as it deems necessary."
Very simply, we on this side of the House believe that Investment Canada should be able to appeal to the entire Cabinet rather than be completely under the thumb of the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion (Mr. Stevens).
Clause 7 of the Bill states that the Governor in Council shall appoint a person to be the president of the agency, to hold office during pleasure. Clause 9 points out that other officers and employees of the agency will be appointed in accordance with the Public Service Employment Act. The president will be appointed by the Governor in Council. We hope that the president will not simply be another patronage pay-off to another Tory hack.
We urge the Government to implement its promise that there will be an all-party committee of the House that will vet senior appointments such as this to ensure that we do have a president of Investment Canada who will have an independent mind, a broad grasp of the issues and an understanding of the implications of Investment Canada, particularly with respect to investment by non-Canadians Ih-a great many areas. Some of those areas that are particularly sensitive include culture, energy and resource development.
We believe it is necessary to appoint someone of independent mind, with a broad capacity to be aware of the implications affecting these many areas. That person should be able to receive advice from employees in the agency, because many concerns will go far beyond the scope of the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion.
Although there are 40 Cabinet Ministers, far too much power is already concentrated in the hands of the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion. A number of Ministers, such as the Minister of State for Forestry (Mr. Merrithew), do not have their own departments and we believe that if we are to have 40 Cabinet Ministers they all should have some real power. That is the reason for our Motion No. 20 that would give Investment Canada the right to appeal to the entire Cabinet.
Bill C-15 will increase the power of the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion to a dangerous level. We have already
May 2, 1985
Investment Canada Act
seen how the views of the Minister are not necessarily those of his Cabinet colleagues. For example, he was completely opposed to doing anything to help the Domtar situation, yet some of his Cabinet colleagues who were closer to the situation and more sensitive to it saw that there was a need for Government action in this area. Thankfully, the Minister was overruled.
Our Motion No. 20 simply provides that the agency will be able to go directly to Cabinet. This is particularly important when we are dealing with non-Canadian investment in such areas as culture or energy. I see we have the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (Mr. Fraser) with us this morning. I would be interested to hear his opinion on this amendment. Would the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans like the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion to have the absolute discretion about investment in fish processing plants and aquaculture? Does he agree with leaving that absolute discretion in the hands of the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion, a person who knows absolutely nothing about the field with which the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is concerned?
We want to see a more independent agency that has access to Cabinet at times of real concern. If the Government follows our suggestion and appoints a person of some independence of thought and mind, if the Government follows its own promises and establishes an all-Party committee to vet senior appointments like this, then we would not simply have just another Tory hack, another patronage pay-off, but someone who might have some legitimate concerns that he or she would want to take to committee. I urge support for Motion No. 20.
Motion No. 19 moved by the Hon. Member for Winnipeg-Fort Garry spells out the powers of the Minister that this agency is supposed to assist. Those powers, as spelled out in this motion are to help:
-the Minister in exercising his powers under this Act, to secure notifications and conduct reviews of investments by non-Canadians under this Act, and provide to other relevant federal Departments and agencies information about means to stimulate investment by Canadians in Canada.
These powers are very important, Mr. Speaker. We believe the intention of the Bill should spell them out.
Investment Canada should have information about notifications of investment. The Investment Canada Agency should be able to look at and examine these investments and determine whether or not they really are in the best interests of all Canadians. It should be able to conduct reviews. While we are abolishing the Foreign Investment Review Agency, there will has to be an element of review even though Members opposite might not like it. There still has to be somebody charged with the responsibility of ensuring that investment is for the benefit of Canada. There should be somebody charged with coordinating information and making sure that other government Departments are responsible. This fits in very well with our Motion No. 20 that would give Investment Canada direct access to Cabinet. It should have access to other federal Departments and be able to call them in to make sure that any
investment is co-ordinated to serve the best interests of all Canadians.
What we want is to strengthen Investment Canada so it can serve the real purposes of all Canadians. This is not a good Bill. We are not happy with it. We would like to see it improved in certain key areas, by strengthening Investment Canada, by giving the Agency access to Cabinet and by spelling out the powers and duties of the Minister that Investment Canada is supposed to assist. We do not want the Minister simply to have carte blanche for his open door policy. We want to see some vestige of a review process, and we want to see wherever possible that Investment Canada will have the option of going to Cabinet when it has a concern, and not be completely under the thumb of the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion.
Subtopic: INVESTMENT CANADA ACT