Foreign Investment Review Agency

The Foreign Investment Review Agency was a federal agency formed by Parliament in 1973 as a result of concerns about foreign presence in the Canadian economy. The agency began screening foreign acquisitions of Canadian businesses in April 1974 and the establishment of new foreign businesses in October 1975. The agency advised the government (through the minister of industry, trade and commerce) on what action should be taken, if any. In making its recommendations, FIRA took the following factors into consideration: the effect of the investment on employment and economic activity in Canada; the effect on Canadian productivity, technological development and product variety; the degree of Canadian participation in management; the effect on competition; and the compatibility of the investment with national policies.

FIRA was criticized by those concerned about American economic influence because it approved most of the applications it received. The agency was also strongly opposed by many business people, and in December 1984 Sinclair STEVENS, industrial expansion minister, revised its mandate to promote and facilitate investment in Canada by Canadians and foreigners; to undertake research and analysis; to provide policy advice; and to ensure that significant investment by foreigners created a net benefit to Canadians. There was also a move within the agency to implement special restrictions in cultural industries, eg, book publishing and film production. The name of the agency was changed to Investment Canada in 1985.

See also FOREIGN INVESTMENT; FOREIGN OWNERSHIP AND THE STRUCTURE OF CANADIAN INVESTMENT, TASK FORCE ON.