Tories would ease foreign ownership restrictions: Harper
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said Friday the party would lift some restrictions on foreign ownership if it's returned as the government in the Oct. 14 election.
The party would open up the airline and uranium-mining sectors to allow increased foreign investment, "subject to negotiation with our trading partners and to considerations of national security," the Conservatives said in a new release posted on their website.
Airline ownership limits would be raised to 49 per cent from 25 per cent, as long as Canadian companies were offered reciprocal rights in other countries.
Foreign investments of more than $1 billion would be reviewed, up from the current level of $295 million. The change would be phased in over four years, the website said.
Harper, who announced the proposals in a Halifax speech, also said the government would create a new review mechanism in the Investment Canada Act so foreign investments would not jeopardize national security. A foreign company that wanted to buy a Canadian defence contractor would be reviewed.
The Conservative policy proposals are rooted in the competition report released by a committee headed by former telecommunications executive Lynton "Red" Wilson in June.
The regulatory limits on airlines, uranium and telecommunications have resulted in companies that are uncompetitive, inefficient and unwilling to expand into other countries, Wilson said.
"Canada must step up its game and become more competitive, both here at home and abroad," he said.
The Conservative release did not specifically mention telecommunications.
Jack Layton's New Democrats dismissed the announcement, saying it's "unclear why the Conservatives want to further undermine a review process that essentially functions as a rubber stamp."
The NDP pointed out in a news release only one foreign takeover attempt has been prevented since the Investment Canada Act was introduced in 1985. Since then, foreign investors have taken over 12,931 Canadian businesses, the NDP says.