Yesterday I attended a press conference with Andrew Scheer, where he outlined three immediate and concrete steps to restore Canada’s canola trade with China.
Our farmers produce the highest quality Canola in the world. Canola prices are down, there are millions of bushels sitting in farmer’s bins, and the Liberals still haven’t sent a Minister to China nor has the Prime Minister picked up the phone to call the Chinese President. It is imperative that Prime Minister Trudeau immediately does the following:
1. Appoint an Ambassador to China
It has now been over three months since John McCallum was fired as Canada’s Ambassador to China. Canada is severely underrepresented in one of the world’s most important capital cities. Making a blatantly political appointment to China in the first place was a major error on Justin Trudeau’s part.
2. Increase the cap and interest-free period of the federal Advanced Payment Program (APP)
The APP currently allows farmers to borrow up to a maximum of $400,000, with the first $100,000 being interest-free. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has requested that the maximum be increased to $1,000,000 and that the full loan be temporarily made interest-free. This would support our farmers while the trade issue remains unresolved.
3. Launch a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Given the world class quality of Canada’s canola, it is obvious that China’s actions to punish Canadian farmers are completely arbitrary and have nothing to do with science. For this reason, and given the fact that China is not even willing to receive a delegation of scientists and agricultural experts from Canada, we should immediately launch a WTO complaint against China.
Scheer also announced that as Prime Minister, he would pull Canada’s $256-million funding commitment to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He noted that the investment of Canadian tax dollars to support infrastructure projects in other countries was intended to improve trade relations between Canada and China. He stated that this was a failed experiment and that China is clearly using the Infrastructure Bank to expand its influence. Canadian tax dollars should not be used for that purpose in a country that is working against us.
Other examples of Canadian producers losing market access in foreign markets because of the Prime Minister's failures on the world stage, include restrictions on Canadian durum wheat in Italy, pulses in India, and wheat in Vietnam.
Since this crisis started, there has been little evidence to suggest the Liberal government has any concrete steps to resolve this trade dispute. To date, the only action the Liberals have taken is to form a working group, while admitting they still do not have any idea when a delegation of scientists or agricultural stakeholders will go to China. The Minister of Agriculture has also revealed that neither she, nor anyone in the Liberal government, has spoken to the Chinese Ambassador or reached out to the Chinese President.
Since the beginning of this crisis, I have worked with my Conservative colleagues to get this trade issue resolved. I helped to spearhead the initiative, which forced emergency meetings at both the International Trade and Agriculture Committees. This added pressure was needed as neither the Minister of International Trade or the Minister of Agriculture were making themselves available to answer questions from Members of Parliament. It was important to invite farmers and grain companies to Committee to seek their input and recommendations.
Our Conservative team will continue to push for an emergency debate in Parliament. This would allow the multitude of MPs who represent canola farmers to speak to the canola crisis and to put forward ideas to end this trade dispute. Due to Liberal procedural tactics in Parliament, they have previously denied an emergency debate on 9 separate occasions.
It is important that we keep pushing this issue until it is resolved. The Prime Minister sure likes to talk about jobs when it comes to his SNC-Scandal, perhaps he can stop ignoring the thousands of farm families that are paying for his failure to get this situation fixed once and for all.