Foreign Investment (A)

Elizabeth May: Madam Speaker, I rise in continuation of a question raised in question period. I would like to canvas a number of the investments that have been made, particularly pertaining to the Prime Minister’s recent trip to China. We have been told there have been substantial pieces of progress for the Canadian economy. I think a lot of Canadians have questions on their minds now that we see quite a substantial increase in the direct investment, and that is the ownership of Canadian resources by enterprises owned by the government of China, in fact with boards of directors controlled by the Communist Party of China.

I want to make it clear that I certainly support the idea that we have better ties with China. This is not a statement about our relationship with China and the importance of raising human rights in Tibet and the situation for dissidents in Chinese jails. Our opportunities for raising these issues are enhanced with having a respectful, strong relationship. This is about how Canadians should respond to ensure that foreign investment reviews are clear, that the information is transparent and available and that there are national security reviews that go along with this, particularly where strategic Canadian resources, such as oil sands and uranium, are being traded with the People’s Republic of China’s enterprises.

I would like to put this into context. The hon. Minister of Natural Resources has said there is not very much investment from China directly in the oil sands. Of the $73.6 billion invested in the oil sands between 2007 and 2011, oil sands investment from China was approximately $12 billion, or 16%. This is not a small percentage.

The involvement of Chinese companies, particularly PetroChina, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and largely Sinopec have been strategic. In the case of Sinopec it has managed to buy a 9% share in Syncrude for a cost of just about $5 billion. It managed to have a seat on the board of Syncrude and be in a position to veto any decision that Syncrude might otherwise make to process the bitumen crude in Canada, thus creating Canadian jobs in Canadian refineries. That strategic advantage for Sinopec does not seem to have been studied in the way that I think Canadians would have expected.

When I asked this question in relation to the oil sands last week, the Minister of Industry claimed that back in 2009 “we improved the transparency”. This was in relation to my question about the national security aspects of this kind of investment. In fact, when we go back to the decisions in 2009, we find that the cabinet rejected the advice of the expert panel that had been put together in 2007. It was a competition policy review panel that had been mandated to review these arrangements.

According to the Canada Gazette of September 30, 2009:

The term national security should be explicitly defined and national security reviews should take place according to concrete, objective, and transparent criteria. This recommendation was not accepted…

In addition to the oil sands investment, we now have the Prime Minister coming back with a deal for uranium. This deal for uranium has much more lax accounting procedures than was offered in previous deals with China, which is why in the past Canada has not continued to trade uranium in China. The strategic concern is not just for what China would do with the uranium, but for China’s relationship with the civilian nuclear industry program in Pakistan and the potential for nuclear proliferation. These are strategic concerns.

I would like the government to tell Canadians exactly what national security review—

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry.

Mike Lake: Madam Speaker, I took note of the member’s questions, both last week and again this week. Both questions are important in light of tonight’s debates.

Last week, she asked the minister about foreign security provisions in the Investment Canada Act. The minister responded that the national security aspect was included in the law in 2009. Unsatisfied with the answer, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands stood up in the House yesterday and asked the following. She said:

Mr. Speaker, last week I put a question to the Minister of Industry relating to the Chinese takeover of Canadian resources.

He said I was unfamiliar with the Investment Canada Act changes of 2009. 

She went on to say:

In fact, the Canada Gazette of September 30, 2009 said:

Then the member quoted from the Canada Gazette, just as she did now:

The term national security should be explicitly defined and national security reviews should take place according to concrete, objective, and transparent criteria. This recommendation was not accepted— 

Then the member said today, “close quote”.

The trouble is, if you read the Canada Gazette it is not a closed quote. It actually goes on to say something else. The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands was wrong for two reasons. First, she was quoting from a summary of comments and responses to the gazetting of national security provisions in the summer of 2009. She was not quoting from the regulations themselves. Further, she cut the quote in half, as I just mentioned.

The full quote from those comments and replies is as follows. The Canada Gazette states:

4) The term national security should be explicitly defined and national security reviews should take place according to concrete, objective, and transparent criteria. This recommendation was not accepted since national security threats are dynamic in nature and, therefore, constantly evolve. Neither Part IV.1 of the ICA nor the Regulations define the term “national security” since future threats to national security cannot be predetermined and any such definition may limit the government’s flexibility to respond to future threats.

That is the complete quote.

However, that does not mean that national security provisions do not exist. How do I know that? Because they are not hard to find. We just have to grab a BlackBerry or an iPad and go to If the hon. member wants, after we are done here she can come over and I can show it to her on my iPad. They have been there for more than two years. I would ask the member to go and read that section of the website and the associated regulations before getting up to ask her next incorrect question.