For the last numbers of months, the Liberal government has overseen a steep decline in the Canada-China relationship. In March, the Chinese government halted imports of Canadian canola.
Yesterday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer laid out three immediate and concrete steps the Liberal government could take to support Canadian canola farmers.
China is Canada’s largest market for canola, accounting for about 40% of all canola seed, oil, and meal exports. Canada’s canola industry contributes an estimated $26.7 billion to the national economy each year and approximately 250,000 jobs are tied to the sector, including 43,000 canola farmers.
As a result of Justin Trudeau’s failed relationship with China, many farmers, including those in southeast Manitoba, are now facing uncertainty. The Liberal government’s slow response to this crisis is hurting farmers and many other farm related businesses.
Canadians deserve better. That’s why Canada’s Conservatives are calling on the Trudeau Government to immediately take the following three steps to address this important issue.
First, appoint an Ambassador to China. It has now been over three months since John McCallum was fired as Canada’s Ambassador to China. Since his firing, Justin Trudeau has let this vital diplomatic post sit empty. Canada’s interests must be represented in Beijing.
Second, increase emergency financial aid for producers. For example, 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. Increasing this amount and dropping the interest would help support our farmers while the trade issue remains unresolved.
Third, launch a formal trade complaint against China with the World Trade Organization. Given the world class quality of Canada’s canola, it is obvious that China’s actions to punish Canadian farmers are completely arbitrary. We should immediately launch a WTO complaint against China.
Justin Trudeau has failed to treat this issue with the urgency it deserves. Conservatives have stepped up to offer the Liberals a path forward and I call on Justin Trudeau to act on our recommendations swiftly. Our farmers and farm communities deserve nothing less.