Ours is a 'foie gras' Parliament: Politics on TV, Sunday, Oct. 21 edition

Talking about the what the rejection of the Petronas deal augurs about Nexen and other foreign investment in Canada

Message of the day

“Canada welcomes direct foreign investment.”

Questions not answered

  • Will the government be providing additional clarity with regards to the criteria for foreign investment?

Foreign takeovers:

CTV’s Question Period spoke with Jim Flaherty about the rejection of the Petronas takeover of Progress Energy. Flaherty insisted the government believes in foreign direct investment, proposals have to be correct and certain conditions will be proposed from the minister. Flaherty reiterated that the minister weighs the net benefit test plus national security tests, and he that he believes Paradis’ office will continue to work with Petronas to address their concerns during the review period.

Kevin Newman then spoke to participants in the Canada 2020 talk on foreign investment, Wenran Jiang, Tom D’Aquino and Eugene Lang. Lang said the government has been signalling is is not happy with  investment rules and are likely drafting changes, which has affected the timing of these decisions, and that the CNOOC-Nexen deal is the most complex of any investment decision they have yet faced. Jiang pointed to communications issues the government was having with Petronas, and that Petronas turned down the request for a further extension in order to force the decision. Jiang added that when we invited Chinese investment, we didn’t stipulate the size or sector. D’Aquino said the Act provides room for negotiation with Petronas, and that a rejection of the Nexen deal will set back our relationship with China.

On The West Block, the Baker-Lee debate was held on what the Petronas rejection means for the CNOOC-Nexen takeover. Professor Ian Lee said we are seeing the emergence of a Harper Doctrine of “muscular interventionist conservatism” that has three components:

1. If you’re too big and will dominate the market, we’ll turn you down – as with the potash decision; 2. National security considerations – as with MDA;
3. If you’re foreign government-owned.

Senator George Baker said he believes the government will approve the Nexen takeover as well as the Petronas deal on review because there is no legal reason to turn down either application.

On CTV QP’s Scrum, Craig Oliver said the Nexen deal is different because Harper went to China and asked for investment, and CNOOC made a number of concessions that Petronas didn’t. Gloria Galloway said her sources say the Petronas decision was right down to the wire, and that they tried to find a way to make it work but couldn’t. Tonda McCharles noted the conflicting messages being sent to the Asian investment community, while John Ivison said we can’t learn anything from the Petronas decision to apply to Nexen, and that Canada faces a potential loss of billions in investment if we’re not open for business.

Vic Toews:

Newman spoke to Vic Toews, who told him that the government recognized the challenge of cyber-security two years ago with its initial investment of $90 million, bolstered by this week’s additional investment of $155 million over five years in order to do more. He wouldn’t comment on Huawei, but said that any domestic or foreign company that posed a security threat would be dealt with appropriately. With respect to the decision to repatriate Omar Khadr, Toews said he was satisfied he made the right decision and didn’t want to make the mistake of Khadr being dumped at our border six years later when our system couldn’t monitor him. He disputed that Khadr is “technically” a child soldier, but that he will be rehabilitated all the same.

Parliamentary Budget Officer:

After Jim Flaherty told Kevin Newman that the requests were outside of Kevin Page’s mandate because it was money not spent, CTV QP’s Scrum weighed in, where Ivison said he believes MPs will reclaim their position when it comes to monitoring spending, even if the government rejected the proposal for the budgets to be released on Feb. 1 so that it matches the estimates cycle. Oliver said that ours is becoming a “foie gras parliament” with bills being forced down MPs throats, and that maybe this fight will bring public attention to the declining power of parliament. Galloway agreed, saying MPs are being asked to make decisions in the dark, while McCharles said she’s not sure there is a political downside in taking the PBO to court because most people will dismiss it as a “process story.” McCharles said the downside comes when the government tries to smear Page in public, as he is earning the same kind of credibility as the Auditor General.

Walt Natynczyk:

Tom Clark spoke with outgoing Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk, who said he never would have imagined becoming the CDS when he first signed up at the age of 17, and that he’s cherished every moment. Natynczyk said that the Canadian Forces has transformed as a result of the Afghan mission, and that the challenge will be to institutionalize that combat experience to better prepare for an uncertain future. With regards to the Delisle case, Natynczyk said that the Forces are always looking at improving their security procedures. The extended interview not seen on broadcast, which includes a discussion on procurement and taking care of disabled veterans, is here:

US Ambassador David Jacobson:

Newman spoke to the U.S. ambassador David Jacobson, who said that the USDA inspectors going to the XL Plant next week are part of an audit that was planned long before the E. Coli issue came to light, and that the American government still has confidence in the Canadian meat inspection system. With regards to changes to the inspection system proposed under the Beyond the Border deal, it would not eliminate the second check but simply move it from the border to the plant where the meat is shipped to for processing. When asked about the Jeffrey Delisle spy case, Jacobson said Americans still have confidence in our intelligence system.