Action is Needed Now on the Canola Crisis

May 06, 2019

It’s been two months since China first began its retaliatory actions against Canada by revoking a Canadian canola company’s import permit, citing fears of insect infestation. This was later followed by China stopping all purchases of Canadian product. Weeks have gone by without any concrete action by the current Liberal government and the Canada-China crisis has become a national economic emergency requiring urgent action. We, the Official Opposition, recognize the severity of the crisis and the catastrophic impact failure to act could have for farmers. Our leader, Andrew Scheer, recently called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take immediate and concrete steps to restore Canada’s canola trade with China.

Approximately 40 per cent of Canadian canola exports go to China with a value of approximately $3.6B in 2017 (Canola Council of Canada). Canadian farmers produce the highest quality canola in the world. We, the Official Opposition, have been deeply concerned about the impacts that the baseless actions by the Chinese government will have on Canada’s agriculture and canola sector. The issue at hand is not Canada’s canola product. Canada produces the best canola in the world. Rather, this calls into question Prime Minister Trudeau’s ongoing failure to handle Canada’s relationship with China.

In stark contrast, Andrew Scheer, has demonstrated leadership on this file by imploring the Prime Minister to take action on three fronts. Firstly, 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 now 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. The least he can do is address his mistakes to ensure that Canada’s interests are represented in Beijing. Secondly, 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. Thirdly, launch a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Given the world class quality of Canada’s canola, it’s 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.

In addition, the current Liberal government is giving more money to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a vehicle of Chinese foreign policy and controlled by from Beijing, to build pipelines. It raises serious questions about why Canadian tax dollars are being used to advance China’s own foreign policy while Canadian farmers continue to suffer because of the baseless actions of the Chinese government. The Prime Minister has claimed the AIIB investment in China was made for the reduction of air pollution caused by coal use. However, a specialist on China and energy markets at Harvard University recently indicated that China is investing in 300 new coal-fired plants.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s failed relationship with China and his slow response to this crisis are costing Canadian farmers dearly. Conservatives know that allegations from the Chinese government against Canada’s canola are both false and baseless. Canola producers are only the latest victims of the Prime Minister’s failures on the international stage. He has allowed China to walk all over him without defending Canada’s security and economic interests. Canadians deserve better.