Bill S-257: An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act
(mandatory national security review of investments by foreign state-owned enterprises)
This Senate Public Bill would amendment the Investment Canada Act to enact a mandatory national security review each time a foreign investment is proposed by an state-owned enterprise (SOE). This means that every SOE investment would be subject to a mandatory national security review.
With rising global investments by foreign state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in key resource sectors, critical infrastructures, and sensitive technologies are increasingly considered as to national security, many Canadian observers and decision-makers are considering whether national security reviews of proposed investments in Canada by foreign SOEs should be mandatory, rather than discretionary.
The government is now dangerously open to investments from China in key sectors such as energy; new technologies; metals and minerals; entertainment and real estate; and consumer products and services.
While the government assesses all investments in Canada from a basic security perspective, including those that do not lead to a change of control, the national security review power continues to be used sparingly with SOEs.
As it stands, a national security review may only occur if the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, after consultation with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, considers that “the investment could be injurious to national security” and the Governor in Council orders a review.
This Bill would therefore enact a mandatory, non-discriminatory, predictable national security review every time an SOE proposes an investment in Canada.
This Bill would strengthen Canada’s security identify potential issues in advance and, where appropriate, proactively addressing them, and in return help clarify any issues and avoid delays, namely when it comes to investments that have:
- the potential for transfer of sensitive dual‐use technology or know‐how outside of Canada;
- the potential for negative impacts on the supply of critical services to Canadians or the government;
- and the potential to enable foreign surveillance or espionage
“This Bill is about prudence, not protectionism. It creates a timely and predictable reassurance to Canadians that the Government will review all investments proposed by SOEs from a national security standpoint in a manner that does note discourages investment, economic growth and employment opportunities in Canada.”
– Senator Thanh Hai Ngo