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Investment Canada Act Report Faces Opposition in Parliament

The CIUA previously published an occasional paper analyzing the Investment Canada Act in December 2020. The paper outlined a series of China-related considerations relevant to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology (INDU)’s study of the Investment Canada Act. 

The final report from INDU (including a series of recommendations from the committee’s study) were released on March 26, roughly ten months after the standing committee adopted the motion on June 1, 2020. The committee made nine recommendations for further consideration by the Government of Canada (and/or the House of Commons). Notably, the report calls for all investment transactions originating from a “state-owned/state-controlled” firm to trigger both a national security review and net benefit test, legislation mandating the yearly review of investment thresholds, and increased public disclosure of the review factors considered (in the review process) and conditions levied on investing firms by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. 

The ruling Liberal Party issued a dissenting opinion within the report, stating that “[they] are dismayed that the safeguards adopted by the Government of Canada in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic neither seem to have been fully understood nor were accurately reflected in the recommendations adopted by a majority of the members tasked with shaping and approving the content of this Committee Report.” They issued notes for six of the nine recommendations, with five deemed “redundant” or “unnecessary” given the existing capacity of the Investment Canada Act and recent updates to the national security review guidelines.

The House of Commons debated the report on April 27, although a motion to adjourn the debate was passed after a rather limited discussion. Liberal, NDP, and Green Party members (plus three independents) voted to adjourn the debate, while the Conservatives and Bloc (plus one independent) voted against the motion. For these reasons, it is unlikely that any measures recommended by the INDU report will be adopted in practise by the Liberal government.

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