Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology

Elizabeth May: Mr. Chairman, is it appropriate for me to ask if I might have a chance to ask a question between rounds one and two?

The Chair: It’s my understanding that after round two there would be unanimous consent.

Would that be the case, Mme LeBlanc?

Hélène LeBlanc: We have many questions to ask.

The Chair: It has to be unanimous. No consent.

Dan Harris: Maybe ask again after the second round.

The Chair: Maybe we’ll ask again.

I’ll be glad to ask as many times as you allow me.

Elizabeth May: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks to members of the committee for allowing me a chance to ask questions.

Do I have five-minute time limit, Mr. Chair?

The Chair: Five minutes, that’s correct, Ms. May.

Hélène LeBlanc: Mr. Chair, can we make sure that the time allocated for the opposition is not used for this and that we would still have our time to ….

The Chair: That’s correct.

Hélène LeBlanc: Thank you very much.

The Chair: That said, that means I’ll have to stick very tight now to the five minutes. So for the questioners and the answerers I’m going to have to stick a lot tighter because we only have 27 minutes left.

Hon. Mike Lake: Just to clarify, where are we with questions?

The Chair: After Ms. May is done, then we’ll go to our third round. It will be Conservative, NDP, Conservative, Liberal.

Ms. May.

Elizabeth May: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I’ll attempt to use my time efficiently. Thank you witnesses.

I want to go back to the competition policy review panel and their advice before the amendments were tabled in 2009. I’m really going to ask questions specifically around the fact that these amendments through Bill C-60are attempting as I see it to bring greater clarity around certain concepts and to extend timelines for national security reviews.

What I want to know is if whether within Industry Canada, whether you received advice that it would be helpful to review and clarify the term national security which currently isn’t defined within the act?

Paul Halucha: It’s been something that has been mentioned by I would say think tanks and certain legal firms that represent foreign investors. Again in their efforts to have maximum certainty, they wanted to have a prescribed definition of it or a list the way that some other countries do like the United States.

Elizabeth May: Yes, I think the United States, the U.K., China, Japan and Germany that would have reviews that would be triggered by an actually defined term of national security.

What I’m wondering is whether Industry Canada, whether you’re aware of any studies in the Canadian context that, as you said think tanks have recommended this. It’s in the Canada Gazette from when the 2009 amendments were accepted that there were recommendations at the time that the term national security should be “explicitly defined and national security reviews should take place according to concrete objective and transparent criteria”.

Are you aware of any empirically design studies that would in any way question the benefit of having such defined terms and such transparent reviews?

Paul Halucha: I’m not. We don’t have any studies on that. I’d clarify, it was a policy decision by the government to not have a prescribed definition for national security on the basis that the types of threats that Canada could face from period to period can change. Given the evolving nature of threats, you wouldn’t want to have a definition of national security that precluded you from considering certain specific types of threats.

Elizabeth May: But you’d agree with me that other countries haven’t found a defined term to be an impediment to applying their investment tests in relation to national security.

Matthew Dooley: I would point that the United States, as a clear example, has an non-exhaustive list—it’s exhaustive in that it’s very long, but it’s non-exhaustive in that they can add more to it if they want to. I would argue that they don’t have a clearly defined definition for “this is national security”. What they have done is list their sensitive industries or sectors that they’re going to be concerned about and by the way if another sector comes up, as Mr. Halucha said, the threats change and they’ll add that to the list.

Elizabeth May: Yes, Mr. Dooley, you may find their list exhausting but it’s not exhaustive. In any case, it might be a model we can look at.

Those are all of my questions. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. May.