Nathan on foreign investment vs foreign takeovers

Nathan spoke to a New Democrat motion calling for greater transparency and accountability in the review of foreign takeovers.  The process so far has no clear rules and has repeatedly failed to protect the public from job losses. Just one day earlier, in a surprise move, the Federal Government blocked the takeover of Potash Corp by Australian company BHP Billiton – but problems with the process remain serious.

Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley, NDP): We know for a fact that foreign investment is not always the same thing and can have multiple results. It is uncertain. There is foreign investment that creates jobs. In the NDP motion talks to foreign investment that creates opportunities for our economy. We are a trading nation and the New Democrats recognize that. We recognize that foreign capital can enable companies to do more, to go out and seek opportunities that they otherwise could not get at. However, foreign capital that takes away jobs, shuts down head offices and puts people out of work is not what I would determine good foreign investment.

We have this process in place, this act in which all of these takeovers are governed by, but it protects nobody except the narrow interests of the investors of those taking over the company, and these companies are truly global in scale.

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In our motion, the first request we make of the government is to make the hearings public. What sitting member can turn to the people of Saskatchewan and tell them they are not allowed in the door to hear what is going to happen to one of their most significant economic drivers, that they should trust the member and that the power is going to reside in the hands of one person, the minister, as if the minister has this divine inspiration to make the right call and understand all the facets?

I guess the government is saying that people are just too dumb to understand, that they do not have the right to access these hearings. What a bunch of malarkey for a formerly grassroots movement, which was the Reform Party, to come to this place with such arrogance. I use the word carefully but significantly. To say that the Canada Investment Act needs no public disclosure whatsoever, that the good people of Saskatchewan, or Sudbury or Kitimat have no right or capacity to possibly understand what is being discussed is arrogant. It is arrogant to suggest that only the minister can have any influence over this decision and that is the way it has to remain.

The NDP is calling for more certainty today. It is saying that when companies step forward, looking to truly invest in Canada, in the true sense of the word invest, to enable communities to become stronger, to put more jobs into our marketplace, to put food on the table, because that is what investment should do, they must have clear and accountable guidelines. It should not be in the hands of one minister, not behind closed doors where deals are being made and the people are told to stand outside and wait patiently for the inspirational powers of intelligence of the current minister or whomever the minister may be. That is wrong.

We can do better. We can attract foreign investment and do it on terms that are favourable to the people of Canada, to the communities on which this would have the most impact, not just the investors on Wall Street and in London but the people whose lives often depend on these companies and their strength.