Larry Maguire, Member of Parliament for Brandon-Souris, attended a press conference with Andrew Scheer, where the Leader of Canada's Conservatives outlined three concrete steps to restore Canada’s canola trade with China.
"Our farmers produce the highest quality Canola in the world,” said Maguire. “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.”
Scheer and Maguire called on Prime Minister Trudeau to immediately:
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.
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.
“This is a failed experiment,” Scheer said. “China is clearly using the Infrastructure Bank to expand its influence. As Prime Minister, I will not allow Canadian tax dollars to be used for that purpose in a country that is working against us.”
To date, the Liberals have formed a working group, but admit they 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, Maguire has worked with his Conservative colleagues to help to spearhead an 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 MPs. Maguire knew it was important to invite farmers and grain companies to Committee to seek their input and recommendations.
Conservative MPs are pushing for an emergency debate in Parliament to 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 nine separate occasions.
“I will continue to stand up for Westman farmers and keep pushing this issue until it is resolved,” concluded Maguire.