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NDP Leader Jack Layton speaks about foreign takeovers during Parliament Hill a news conference on Oct. 29, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
NDP Leader Jack Layton speaks about foreign takeovers during Parliament Hill a news conference on Oct. 29, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

NDP wants foreign-takeover rules rewritten Add to ...

It's not true New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton is opposed to any and all foreign investment, as Stephen Harper alleged in the House of Commons on Thursday.

There have been some good ones in the wind energy sector, Mr. Layton offered in response to a reporter's question Friday. And solar - he's all for foreign companies investing in Canada's fledgling solar energy industry.

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If given more time, Mr. Layton told a morning news conference, he was sure he could come up with a longer list. (His senior press secretary, Karl Belanger, later emailed some more examples: BHP Billiton's investment in diamond mining in the Northwest Territories, Toyota in Ontario, Siemans in Quebec and Whole Foods - the high-end food retailer - in Toronto and Vancouver.)

Mr. Layton unveiled a motion the NDP has put on the order paper and expects to be debated in the House of Commons in the coming days, calling for the government to reject a proposed foreign takeover of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan and revamp the Investment Canada Act.

The NDP Leader - who did his doctoral thesis on foreign investment - argued the Investment Canada review process is too secretive and has failed to ensure incoming direct investment is, in fact, in the interest of Canadian workers.

His motion would make explicit in the Act that the government would approve only foreign investment that brings new capital, creates jobs, transfers new technology into the country and contributes to sustainable development and improves the loves of Canadians.

Current Investment Canada negotiations are bound by strict confidentiality rules that prevent officials or Industry Minister Tony Clement from discussing the specifics of a deal under review, and do not allow the government to spell out clearly the commitments that a company has made in order to establish that a takeover would, on balance, benefit the country.

"Canadians need more than just having Stephen Harper say 'trust me'," Mr. Layton said.

The NDP chief was uncertain when the motion would be debated, but he is hoping the vote will take place prior to next Wednesday's deadline for the Harper government to rule on BHP Billiton Ltd.'s controversial bid for Potash Corp., a decision he expects will go against the Australian multinational.

Follow on Twitter: @smccarthy55

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