Foreign Investment and Protection Agreement (FIPA) between Canada and China

In recent weeks, I have received thousands of letters and emails from Guelph and across the country who are concerned and opposed to both the proposed purchase of Nexen the Chinese State Owned Enterprise (SOE) CNOOC Inc. and the Foreign Investment and Protection Agreement (FIPA) between Canada and China.

In a recent Angus-Reid poll, nearly 60 percent of Canadians stated that they wanted the Federal government to reject the proposed takeover of Nexen by CNOOC and nearly 80 percent stated that no foreign governments should be able to control resources on Canadian soil. Like those polled and those who have contacted me, I am of the same opinion.

Canada is a trading nation, with economic wealth, advanced infrastructure and vast potential – all of which make Canada a natural and attractive prospect for foreign investors. Generally speaking, the Liberal Party of Canada recognizes that foreign investments play a very important role in the Canadian economy. Foreign investors bring knowledge, capability, and technology and can increase the productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of Canadian firms. These investments frequently help Canadian based companies to expand and create new jobs in Canada and Canadians have benefited greatly from opening the country’s borders to trade and investment. While the vast majority of foreign investments in Canada are carried out in an open and transparent manner by private or public Corporations, there are instances when this is not the case. One of which, is the proposed purchase of Nexen, one of the largest Canadian oil and gas producing company with an estimated 2.3 billion barrels of proven oil reserves in Canada, and if approved, would make it CNOOC’s third acquisition of a Canadian oil and gas producing company.

Firstly, it is not about private foreign investment, but rather about investments in and control of our natural resources by another government. CNOOC is one of three major Chinese oil producing SOE’s who dominate energy production in China and have significant investments abroad, the other two being Sinopec and PetroChina, all of which already have significant investments in Canada through acquisitions, mergers and partnerships. Since 2009, Chinese SOEs alone have invested more than $10 billion in Canadian energy corporations and projects and the recent purchase offer by CNOOC of $15-billion of Nexen is more than twice what Nexen is estimated to be worth ($6.7 billion). As a free market country, Canadians and corporations have the right to operate businesses and access market based financing to operate and grow whereas China is not a free market country and financing is controlled by state banks. Chinese state banks provide their SOEs with cheap credit which explains why all three SOEs have paid far more for Alberta oil sands assets than their actual market value, especially with respect to the Nexen offer, placing priority on the state over pricing. Further, SOE bottom lines are subsidized by their own government creating an unfair competitive advantage over private companies who do not enjoy the same financial support. Government conditions attached to the deal are not likely to be complied with any more than conditions attached to recent private foreign takeovers of other Canadian companies like Stelco and Inco. Further, there are hundreds of billions of dollars accessible to other private foreign and domestic investors willing to invest in valuable Canadian resources and resource development so foreign government investment funds are hardly needed. Have we already forgotten Canadian companies who themselves are sitting on about a half trillion dollars of capital yet to be invested by them as a result of the Conservative Government’s most recent ill-advised cor 

Supply management is Canada’s key to food security, sovereignty

Canada is a trading nation, one blessed with abundant and valued natural resources and a skilled workforce in every industry.

On average, we export 80 per cent of our farming and manufacturing production. While trade is important, we cannot negotiate away those agricultural institutions that give us a competitive advantage, which in many cases are the envy of the world, in order to simply increase our market access – most notably, our system of supply management.

Simply put, supply management is vital – not just to farmers, or rural communities, but to all Canadians. It is at once a buy local program and key to Canada’s food security and food sovereignty.

As we continue negotiations toward the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, and as we start our negotiations for entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is vital that we have this conversation, if only to ensure that Canadians understand the important role supply management plays in our economy and in our agricultural sector and to correct some of the commonly held misperceptions that are repeated by its detractors.

Over 40 years ago, a Liberal minister of agriculture, Eugene Whelan, oversaw the creation of several marketing boards that administer the supply management quota system instituted to provide stable, predictable prices for dairy, chicken, broiler hatching eggs, turkey and eggs.

He knew then what we know now – that stability is essential in our modern agricultural sector. Across the world, governments recognize the unpredictable and volatile nature of agriculture and acknowledge the necessity of government intervention, in one form or another, in order to prevent adverse effects. Factors from international commodity prices to climate can have a detrimental impact on a farm, challenging its competitiveness and profitability.

Supply management provides a system whereby our domestic demand is predicted and controlled through a quota and the price is pre-set and adjusted to reflect the cost of production. This guarantees that hardworking Canadian farmers get a workable price for their produce. It comes at no additional cost to the taxpayer, and unlike other business risk-management programs or government subsidies, this support to the farmer does not come in the form of direct government payments.

It has often been said that farmers do not want to earn their income from a government cheque in the mailbox. Canada’s dairy, poultry and egg producers earn more than $10 billion in farm cash receipts and the industries provide almost 107,000 direct jobs to the Canadian economy and employ over 300,000 Canadians altogether. Across the country, 17,238 farms contribute $24.5 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product and pay $4.8 billion in taxes.

There is no doubt that Canada’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership can create new markets, yet admittedly, there is significant resistance internationally to our entry.

Critics at home and abroad argue supply management is an unfair trade advantage other countries don’t enjoy, either unaware or ignoring the fact that agriculture in countries like the United States, one of the more vocal opponents of supply management, rely heavily on government subsidies.

Critics also argue that supply management comes at the expense of the consumer and make the misleading argument that lower-income Canadians are disadvantaged so l  

Talking points on food safety cold comfort

What is disconcerting about the Conservatives’ continued attempts to explain away cuts to Canadian food safety is their reliance on the same, tired talking points.

In his letter to the editor, MP LaVar Payne refers to a “modernization agenda,” much in the same way his colleagues refer to the cuts as “searching for efficiencies.” Tragically, members of this government have a poor track record when it comes to budgetary efficiencies.

Three senior ministers in the current Conservative government were senior ministers in the Mike Harris government that made “efficiency cuts” leading to seven avoidable deaths from E. coli contamination in Walkerton.

Payne speaks to the evolving risks in food safety, yet fails to justify a weakening of regulations around one of our highest-risk food products – meat. Until this Conservative budget, meat imports were inspected separately, which is especially vital when one considers that only two per cent of agricultural and agri-food products coming into the country are inspected. While Payne speaks about “truth in labelling,” he doesn’t mention that the new complaint mechanism is a website where consumers will now be compelled to complain directly to the company. Anyone who has ever called a customer helpline will know attempting to have a complaint addressed can be frustrating and time-consuming at the best of times, so relying on the very manufacturer who exaggerated health claims or understated harmful effects in the first place is hardly an answer.

None of this is surprising from a government recently criticized for its lack of consideration for adequate and affordable access to safe and healthy food. Instead of speaking with, or even considering the recommendations of a United Nations food envoy, the government, true to form, attacked him and others who support finding a solution for the 2.5 million Canadians who cannot access nutritional, affordable and adequate food.

While Payne’s talking points are a great way to divert attention on an issue as serious as food safety, they are thin gruel for Canadians with allergies and dietary restrictions and they are cold comfort for Canadians who still remember Walkerton and the listeriosis contamination. 

Tories acting callously on food safety

Dear editor:

Kitchener Centre Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth is acting recklessly, putting his community members’ health at risk.

He is supporting legislation that will reduce food safety oversight and make major cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Canadians remember the devastating impact on many families from deaths caused by the listeriosis outbreaks. We know that more needs to be done to protect consumers, but in a callous and misguided move the Conservatives are making the problem worse.

They have decided to cut food inspectors and eliminate programs designed to proactively identify unsafe meat and other food products.

Bowing to industry pressure, Conservatives are also eliminating enforcement of product labelling in spite of widespread violations.

Consumers will now be responsible for determining whether companies’ claims about nutritional information, such as levels of cholesterol, sodium and sugar, are true. For those with serious health conditions like peanut allergies or diabetes, false claims could prove deadly.

Waiting for Canadians to get sick is not a food safety strategy.

Liberals are opposing these cuts because Canadians deserve to know that food they buy at the grocery store is safe and that manufacturers’ health claims are true.

I encourage Woodworth to reverse his reckless position and put Canadians’ health first. 

Get Home Insurance in Georgetown

The importance of getting a good home insurance cannot be underestimated. Whether you a getting a new home or living in a house that has no insurance, experts highly recommend that you try and find a good home insurer that will reliably cover you in the case of any damages. It may be impossible to get the best home insurance cover due to financial constraints but the competition between existing and upcoming home insurance firms in Georgetown has seen to it that the prices become affordable. You therefore have no excuse not getting a home insurance.

There are several elements to be considered by one who is looking to get a home insurance cover. Reasonable and affordable rates are however on the high end of the spectrum among the several considerations to be made. Finding an insurance firm with a good insurance rates and quote is not as difficult as it may sound. In fact, there are several Georgetown home insurance websites that are specifically dedicated to comparing the quotes of existing insurance firms together with the services they offer. Such information can be of great help for those seeking to find affordable price rates. It is vital that the rates are within your lifestyle as the rates are recurrent.

As much as one would prefer going for companies that have been in the industry for quite a long time and seem to be more experienced, experts agree that you should also look for options in startup insurance companies. This is because they tend to offer better services in their bid to outdo more experienced firms. The increase in the number of homes in Georgetown has triggered an increase in new insurance firms to counter the increased client demand. Upcoming Georgetown home insurance companies tend to have better policies and rapid policy implementation.

Customer service is a big issue in any service delivery industry and same applies to the home insurance firms. Efficient customer service such as customer care response to one’s questions is vital. Getting a good customer delivery oriented firm shouldn’t be as difficult as you may think. All you need to do is take to the internet and read the reviews posted by customers about the service delivery of a firm of interest. You could also talk to a professional advisor so that they may explain to you the advantages and disadvantages of opting for different firms. The expert’s opinion can be of great help.