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Navigator’s folio of ideas, insights and new ways of thinking

Other People’s Money

November 30, 2017
Jason Hatcher
Jason Hatcher | Managing Principal
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Navigator Perspectives - Other People's Money

IN CANADA, we have seen the issue become the focus of a broader public debate under both the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper and the current Liberal government of Justin Trudeau. For Harper, the issue was Chinese state-owned CNOOC Ltd.’s acquisition of Nexen; for the Trudeau government, it was the sale of Canadian satellite technology firm Norsat International to Hytera, a Chinese communications firm.

Public debate typically raises concerns about national security, sovereignty, environmental standards and labour laws. Public trust is also undermined by approval processes that take place behind closed doors at the federal cabinet table.

However, the debate often misses the point that Canada needs foreign investment and always has. In fact, Canada has been built by foreign investment, in many ways. Canada is a large country with a relatively small population; we simply don’t have the domestic financial resources to fully tap our immense potential.

The public assumes that foreign direct investment is an issue mainly in the resource extraction sector, but this is not the case. In 2016, the manufacturing sector in Canada led all other industries in foreign direct investment at 28 per cent. Overall growth last year in this type of investment occurred across most industries, led by wholesale and retail trade (10.1 per cent growth), manufacturing (5 per cent) and mining and oil and gas extraction (3.2 per cent), according to

Foreign direct investment is a practical necessity for continued growth

At a time when world powers like the U.S. and China are looking inward economically, there is opportunity for Canada. U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” approach and China’s new regulations restricting “irrational” overseas investment by Chinese interests may seem threatening in the near term. However, the slowing of foreign capital investment may focus Canada’s approach to global trade.

The rest of the world is looking to Canada not only for the opportunities we offer, but also because of our relationship with these two global powers and our access to their markets. Additionally, the new global dynamic may mean new opportunities for bilateral trade agreements that can establish clearer rules for foreign direct investment, and can lead to new sources of capital for Canadian industries to access. One only has to look to such things as the Canada-EU trade agreement, Brexit, continued dialogue with China and India, and the renegotiation of NAFTA to see where that potential may come.

That doesn’t mean that Canada should abandon its values. Some things cannot be compromised, including national security, environmental and labour protections and other things that benefit Canadians.

However, rather than playing politics with approvals or allowing the perception of clandestine decision-making processes to prevail, governments should focus on developing and enforcing protections that Canadians can have confidence in.

Despite the public discourse that has occurred with recent transactions, foreign direct investment does not mean the sale of Canada’s natural resources or state secrets to foreign countries. The federal government must be proactive and transparent about the laws and regulations that will be applied to protect Canadian interests.

To fully develop its economic potential, Canada should seize the opportunity to be a place in which the world wants to invest.

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About the author:

Jason Hatcher
Jason Hatcher | Managing Principal
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Jason Hatcher is the Managing Principal of Navigator and leads the Western Canadian operations from Calgary. He specializes in strategic communications, media relations, issues management, and government relations.

Before joining Navigator, Jason was the co-founder and president of a successful public relations firm in Calgary, emerging as one of Canada’s leading professionals in the field of strategic communications.

For over 20 years, he has worked at the provincial and federal levels of government advising Premiers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. He has also advised Canadian Cabinet Ministers and political leaders and parties across the country in areas concerning campaign and election strategy, media relations and public policy.

As a media commentator on public policy, government and politics, Jason has appeared regularly on national and regional public affairs programming.

In his role as Managing Principal of Navigator’s Western Canadian operations, Jason leads business development for the region while also managing a team in three offices (Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver). He works with clients in the telecommunications, technology, health, agriculture, finance and energy sectors to enhance their public profiles through communication, stakeholder consultation, and government advocacy strategies.

Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Jason’s English and French bilingual education covered political science, business and law.

As a community leader and passionate volunteer, Jason believes it is important for people to be involved and give back to their community. He is current Board Chair of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce as well as Board Chair for United Way Centraide which comprises 80 community-based organizations and the National Office. Additionally, Jason is the past Board Chair at United Way of Calgary and a board member for three privately owned corporations.

Jason lives in Calgary with his wife and two children and their two Labrador retrievers, Mac and Brigus.

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