Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to talk about investments in Canada and the way this government, from day one, has looked at how we can increase Canada's GDP, support Canada's middle class and build a healthier and stronger economy, whether that is by investing in things such as infrastructure, which is something the former prime minister failed at doing, or by taking a look at how we can increase investments coming into Canada, something we have been very successful at doing in the last number of years.
Of course there are the types of opportunities that have been created by a government that has a very proactive approach at dealing with trade in general. Trade also supports the encouragement of additional foreign investment. This government signed off on more free trade agreements than in the history of any other government in the House of Commons. That, in itself, has played a significant role in how Canada is perceived around the world, whether it is Europe, the States, Mexico, Asia or south Asia, wherever it might be.
We have recognized that one way we can elevate the lifestyle and the way we live in Canada is to look at ways to create the types of middle-class jobs that Canadians want. We have been very aggressive in pursuing that along with a number of other things that I will save for another debate on another day.
However, there is misinformation consistently coming from the Conservative Party. I was listening to a previous speaker who was talking down Canada's battery industry. He was saying that we were supporting China and that we could not achieve the production of electric vehicles in Canada. He was literally, and this is no surprise, talking down what was happening in Canada. The problem is that it was not factually correct, and it seems this is an inherent problem that the Conservatives have. They look for things they can say for the spin even if it is true or not.
The member talked about batteries. Does the member realize that when it comes to the battery supply chain, Canada is second in the world? There are a lot of countries throughout the world and we are number two. We should be talking that up, not talking it down as the Conservative member was doing.
In fact, there is a multi-billion dollar investment coming in just outside of Kingston. I know my colleague from Kingston puts a lot of work into expanding that whole region in many different ways, and no doubt he might have even played a role in this. The billions of dollars that are being invested is going to help secure Canada's second place in the world when it comes to batteries.
It is recognizing foreign investment is not a bad thing. Foreign investment is going to help our economy grow. It is going to assist us in creating the types of jobs that Canadians want not only for today but into the future. It is important that the Government of Canada recognizes this by investing in it, not just acknowledging it. We have consistently done that over the years.
On the battery industry, the Kingston-area plant, the billions of dollars of investment, will create 1,000-plus jobs. A global corporation, Umicore, will be working with the Province of Ontario and the federal government. As a direct result, not only will it secure a long-term commitment in an area that will grow over the next many years but it will also create jobs and a cleaner economy, which will have other types of spinoff benefits. In part, it is possible because we recognize there are those who are abroad who look at Canada as a safe place to invest.
Contrary to what my Conservative friends might try to say, relatively speaking and compared to the world, Canada is doing exceptionally well on the investment front. We need to recognize that Canada remains an open economy and, in fact, is the envy of many countries around the world.
One could stick with the automobile industry and the transitions that are taking place. I believe there is somewhere in the neighbourhood of half a million jobs in that industry. In recent years, we have heard about investments from abroad coming to Canada to build upon those jobs, to support that industry, and understandably so, because of the resources we have to offer, because of an amazing workforce and even because of things such as our universal health care system. Companies take those types of things into consideration.
It is not just the bottom line over the next year or two for those many companies. Investors think long term. A greener economy does matter.
That is why investments in green technology by this government, are at historic levels. Stephen Harper never invested a fraction of the types of monies we are investing in a greener economy. As a result of some of those investments, I suspect we will be seeing more international players looking at Canada as a strong, healthy economy that is worth the billions of dollars of investments we will see over the coming years.
Let us think about those industries. My home province of Manitoba is rich in minerals and resources. We require foreign investment in order to maximize the potential that is there.
We have great investors in Canada and we continue to lead in many areas, especially in the agricultural industries and our manufacturing industries. One of the most high-tech airplanes out there, the ones we just purchased, is the F-35. The wings for those are actually manufactured in the city of Winnipeg.
We have industries that we have seen substantial growth. I am always amazed when I take a drive in rural Manitoba during harvest season and see canola being harvested. That comes from the Prairies. It is technology and science at work. At the end of the day, the world is better off as a direct result of Manitoba producing the type of canola it does today.
There was a time when the Prairies was seen as more of a hinterland. We could draw out resources, be paid for them at a reduced price, I would suggest, and forget about the processing. The Prairies wants, demands and has been seeing a diversification of our economies. Never before have we seen as much economic activity in a wide spectrum of areas.
I often talk about how wonderful the hog plant, HyLife, in Neepawa, Manitoba has been to the community because of everything that goes into that plant. Hundreds of employees work there. The life that it has brought to the community of Neepawa is in good part because of that plant and the hundreds of jobs it has generated. Everything that comes out of that plant is exported to Asia.
Investments within Canada as well as external investments are coming into the province of Manitoba, just as I suspect they are into all regions of the country.
From my perspective, the modernization of the Investment Canada Act provides assurances, transparency and a higher sense of accountability. It ensures that the minister is able to protect certain industries, because there is a great deal of concern out there. Two examples come to mind. One is the war taking place in Ukraine and Russia. We have seen the impact that Russia has had on the marketplace, particularly in Europe. It reinforces what the Prime Minister has indicated with respect to looking at our allied countries, countries that share the same values we have, and how we can invest more in that relationship. It becomes more of a two-way street in that sense. Not all foreign investment is good. This is why we need to have this act.
When people think about security and safety, they do not necessarily think of the economy. They might think about the Canadian Forces or our military hardware when it comes to the security of the nation, but what is equally important is the security of our economy. In essence, the Investment Canada Act is there for that. There are players in the world who invest for alternative motives. It is not just about money. We need to give additional attention to some of those players. We often hear about relationships between the different nations. I like to think that if we have learned something from some of the things we have experienced in the past, we could greatly benefit by it.
When I think of our market and our economy, most people want an open market and a free economy where businesses can thrive. Consumers would benefit and we would have a growing and healthy middle class. However, there are some things that really frustrate us as consumers, such as the lack of competition in certain areas of the economy. That has a significant impact.
I think the member for Windsor West from the NDP made reference to Target stores. I remember when Target, a big American company, wanted to invest in Canada. It was going to replace Zellers stores and close some Zellers stores in Winnipeg. It had the big store opening on Saint James Street. Then, after all was said and done, Target pulled out and there was a sense of disappointment. At one point there was a sense of excitement that we were getting this big Target store, and it was fairly well known for its pricing. Consumers felt it would be a good thing, but then Zellers disappeared and Target disappeared. That creates suspicion in the minds of many.
We have, as has been pointed out about grocery stores, some large corporate giants out there, and people are concerned about the price they pay for their food. It is not like there is an option. That is why it is reassuring to Canadians when we have a Minister of Industry who has been very proactive in communicating with these grocery giants and ensuring there is competition.
It is one of the reasons that I and many others will often go to some of the smaller family-owned grocery stores. When Sobeys bought Safeway out west, there was a great deal of concern. In my riding, we had a Sobeys on one side of Keewatin Street and a Safeway on the other side. One store ended up closing, and it is still closed today. Nothing has filled it on the east side of Keewatin Street, but the Safeway has kept that particular name because it had a history in the Tyndall Park area. If we check with the people, we will hear them provide comment that the lack of competition between those two stores might have caused prices to go up.
We could talk about gas prices. We could talk about cellphone prices too. One of the disadvantages that Canada has is the fact that we do not have the same size consumer economy as others do since we are a population of 38 million people. The U.S. has 10 times that and Europe has a multitude of different countries, so as elected officials, we need to be a little more aware of the importance of healthy competition. That is why we talk about what the Minister of Industry has been able to accomplish, whether it is attracting foreign investment or keeping companies that are here more accountable in terms of the pricing put out there. We want Canadians to understand and know that we are here to protect their interests.
That is what this legislation is all about. We recognize the value of foreign investment, and by making it more efficient by allowing ministers to extend deadlines, for example, we are in a better position to protect our marketplace security and work with countries such as the Five Eyes nations.
I will leave it at that, and maybe there will be a question or two.