Mr. Steve Butland (Sault Ste. Marie):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to deal with the contents of the bill after having proposed a couple of amendments, one of which I thought would be acceptable. It was not.
The bill is kind of ironic because on one hand it is suggesting that we open the doors for investment, particularly American investment. On the other hand through the cultural components of the bill, it will be as good or as bad as the next minister will be. If he or she chooses to use the anti-avoidance clause of this bill, it could have some teeth.
On one hand we laud that aspect of it but again it will very much depend on the desire and whim of the next minister. If that minister chooses to be Canadian culturally oriented it may in fact be a positive.
On one hand we are saying we must protect and if one were suspicious one would say on the other hand the bill says we should open the doors, Americans come on in. There will be no review of investment whatsoever.
This is dealing particularly and specifically with oil and gas but I think we would be loath not to bring in the whole mandate of Investment Canada. There have been
10,000 cases come forward for review by Investment Canada. The number that has been turned down is absolutely zero. Not one of those 10,000 was turned down.
Immediately one has to be suspicious. Canadians are probably not aware of this. I am sure when they hear the number zero for 10,000 they will immediately become concerned. They will say foreign investment is required. American investment is required but at the same time a complete open-door policy is not acceptable to us.
On the one hand we are saying let us open the doors for American investment. On the other hand we sign a free trade agreement which does just the opposite. In fact Canadian investment in the United States is outdoing American investment in Canada.
What is the reason for that? Free trade has encouraged Canadian investment in the United States and discouraged American and other investment in Canada.
I read an article just yesterday on North Carolina. They are doing a booming business there since free trade because it is called a right to work state, which means there is no minimum wage. There were tragedies beyond telling in North Carolina where these people work in factories, resembling the Maquiladora in Mexico, with absolutely no health and safety standards. In fact just two weeks ago we read about people trying to escape from a poultry factory and could not get out when there was a fire because the doors were chained.
There is no such thing as a workmen's compensation board. If in North Carolina your body breaks down because of the work load, so what? You are on your own. You are on the scrap heap. There are human tragedy stories that are in Canadian newspapers, Canadian publications, for all of us to see.
On the one hand we are saying: "Americans, come on in". But on the other hand it is really a discouragement. Why invest in Canada? This Investment Canada mandate says no reviews are necessary, absolutely none. There used to be a threshold of five. It had gone up to, I
June 7, 1993
do not know, around 152 million and now there is no threshold at all. That must give all of us concern.
The debate comes up from time to time as to how much foreign ownership is acceptable. We do not wish to discourage foreign ownership but without any review in place it is not acceptable. I think Canadians reject that.
As for unresolved investment issues, I used this at second reading but I think it is worthy of repeating. This comes from a supporter of the government, an economist who supports government policy: "Canadian negotiators were not as successful in other areas of negotiation with the United States. For one thing, Americans continue to refuse to abdicate their rights to apply extraterritorially to American subsidiaries operating in Canada". In other words the U.S. government reserves the right to apply American laws to subsidiaries of American companies operating in Canada. It does not need to have any due regard for Canadian law even though they are operating in Canada. This plays right hand in hand, arm in arm with trade policy.
All the trade harassment that is going on is based solely on American trade law and whether the Americans are applying trade law correctly or not. It is very easy to apply and it is very easy to get through their Department of Commerce, very easy. Their rules are there to protect industry. Our rules are here to uphold the law. We are great law-abiding citizens and we have put down Canadian law to be fair to everybody. We want to be fair to everybody, but in particular we want to be fair to the United States and to Americana investors.
We say that this legislation cannot be dealt with in isolation. It is part of a much larger package that has taken away from the Canadian government the ability not to restrict but the ability to have any say. It has taken away its jurisdiction over investment in Canada. All of these bills continually circumvent the Canadian identity, the Canadian sovereignty.
Not being against investment, we have grave concerns about the bill in isolation because it is a part of a much larger package. That is why we are opposed.
As I said earlier, it is ironic. There is the temptation to applaud the cultural components of the bill. We believe there is an anti-avoidance clause and we hope that that will be implemented, but once again that will be as good or as bad as the next minister would want it to be.
For that reason we will be opposing the bill.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: SPEAKER'S RULING