Peggy Nash calls for strengthening of Investment Canada Act

London and Alma plant lockouts put the spotlight on Act’s deficiencies

Ottawa / Jan. 3, 2012 – Peggy Nash, MP for Parkdale–High Park and NDP leadership candidate, renewed calls today for a strengthening of the Investment Canada Act.

Her announcement comes on the heels of major plant lockouts by Caterpillar Inc. in London, Ontario, and Rio-Tinto in Alma, Quebec. Both companies were taken over by foreign corporations through the secretive process provided in the current Investment Canada Act.

“Over 1000 workers are right now locked out by two companies, one of which has made very public its desire to dramatically slash workers’ wages and benefits by more than half,” noted Nash.

“Not only have these companies benefited from millions of dollars in Conservative tax giveaways, but the secretive nature of the Investment Canada Act means we have no way of knowing whether they are responsible for upholding commitments to Canada and our economy, or even if their current actions violate any agreements.”

“While the Act requires companies to show that a takeover will have a ‘net benefit’ to Canada, it fails to define what exactly that is,” Nash added.

“Canadians should worry that perhaps no substantial commitments were made to protect jobs, workers, and their communities before the sale of these companies was approved.”

“Leaving the Act in its current form is reckless economic policy, and further evidence of how the Harper government fails on job protection and workers’ rights.”

Nash argues that to ensure foreign investments delivers quality jobs to Canadians, the government should strengthen the Investment Canada Act by:

  • Reducing, the threshold for investments subject to review to $100 million;
  • Providing explicit, transparent criteria for the “net benefit to Canada” test, with an emphasis on the impact of foreign investment on communities, jobs, pensions and new capital investments;
  • Requiring public hearings that allow for community input into decisions on both the assessment of “net benefit” and conditions to apply to the investment;
  • Ensuring public disclosure and enforcement of all commitments undertaken by potential investors.

“I stand in solidarity with the locked out CAW members at Caterpillar and the Syndicat des Métallos workers at Rio-Tinto, and urge their employers to allow them back to work immediately and return to the negotiation table.”

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“I worked closely with Peggy Nash for many years, and saw her at work first-hand dealing with some of the largest, most powerful corporations in the world. She was always motivated by her determination to win a better deal for their workers, and for all Canadians.”

Jim Stanford

Economist and author
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