Question Period: Procurement and Grants Policies

By: The Hon. Clément Gignac

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Hon. Clément Gignac: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Gold, on November 2, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry ordered three Chinese companies to divest their interests in the critical minerals sector. Yesterday, the Government of Canada announced that, from now on, applications for research grants on subjects deemed to be sensitive will be denied if any of the researchers are affiliated with a university or institution with ties to “foreign governments posing a risk to national security”.

Senator Gold, my question is as follows. Given that the U.S. government decided in June 2019 to ban public transit organizations from using federal funds to buy transportation equipment such as trains, subway cars or buses from foreign suppliers that have ties with threatening state actors, does the Government of Canada intend to review its procurement and grants policies for public transit organizations to ensure Canadians aren’t exposed to surveillance controlled by hostile foreign countries?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. The Government of Canada is committed to strengthening the resilience of our critical minerals supply chain and all aspects of our supply chains. Canada continues to welcome foreign direct investment, but the government will take decisive action when investments threaten our national security and our critical minerals and materials supply chains.

As you noted, senator, last year our government announced that large transactions involving foreign state-owned enterprises in this sector will only be approved on an exceptional basis. All foreign investments will be subject to a national security review under the Investment Canada Act. Every investment is examined on a a case-by-case basis.

In regard to procurement, Public Services and Procurement Canada is primarily responsible for these contract procurements within the federal government. The procurement process includes national security and public safety mechanisms. I would add that Minister Champagne made an announcement in the media today concerning additional measures to provide assurances to Canadians that national security in all areas, whether research or contracts, is fully protected.

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