Briefing

Jim Balsillie calls for overhaul of foreign investment rules

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Ottawa should automatically review deals involving IP-holding or -generating companies in fields like AI, quantum computing, telecommunications, renewable energy, biotechnology, fintech and space technology, the Council of Canadian Innovators chair told a House of Commons committee on Monday. (The Logic)

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Talking point: In April, the federal government signalled it would subject takeovers involving firms in public health or COVID-19 response supply chains to close scrutiny, as well as any launched by foreign state-owned enterprises. Balsillie argues that’s insufficient—and that the problem of foreign investment seeking to export Canadian IP extends beyond the pandemic. In February, for example, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States gained new powers to look into deals involving critical technologies and sensitive personal data, regardless of size. But lawyers who specialize in such cases told the committee Monday that the current Investment Canada Act is sufficient. Ottawa can look into takeovers regardless of size on national security grounds, noted Omar Wakil, a Torys partner. And “blanket restrictions” could deter investment and international innovation cooperation, said Joshua Krane, a Blakes partner.