“That has been an increasing theme over the past number of years. These amendments are giving the government a broader set of powers to even further increase its ability to review investments on national security grounds.”

The amendments indicate that Ottawa’s main national security concerns revolve around investments by foreign state-owned enterprises, he says. This includes an apprehension that some businesses that previously operated on a commercial basis are now operating to serve the foreign government that owns them.

Dinning says the amendments widen the scope of the national security review provisions to address foreign investment from state-owned entities.

The changes will include a new filing requirement prior to investment implementation for prescribed business sectors and new ministerial authority to extend national security reviews, impose conditions, accept undertakings to mitigate national security risk, and review state-owned enterprise investment for their net benefit to Canada.

Net benefit reviews have an economic focus, says Dinning. In net benefit reviews, parties tend to make commitments around employment, capital expenditure, and keeping management in Canada. He says these reviews apply to a tiny proportion of transactions, only around a handful every year. But the amendments allow the government to deem any investment by a foreign state-owned enterprise to be subject to that sort of review.