BY BOB ZIMMER
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP
I know many of our local farmers are concerned about the decision by the Chinese government to cancel the canola import permit for Richardson International, one of Canada’s largest grain processors. I share these concerns and have discussed what impact this could have on our region’s agriculture producers with Pouce Coupe’s town council.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry is citing fears of insect infestation as the reason for canceling their canola import permit, however the Chinese government has yet to provide any evidence to support these claims.
We all know that our farmers produce the highest quality canola in the world and that these baseless allegations have nothing to do with Canada’s canola product. Instead, this calls into question the Liberal government’s ongoing failure to handle Canada’s relationship with China.
I am deeply concerned about what impacts these unfounded actions by the Chinese government will have on Canada’s agriculture and canola sector, especially our local farmers. Approximately 40 per cent of Canadian canola exports go to China, with a value of approximately $3.6 billion in 2017.
Canada’s Conservatives have requested an emergency meeting of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee to discuss the Liberal government’s lack of action on this important file. Opposition Members also requested an emergency meeting of the International Trade Committee to discuss the Chinese government’s revocation of Richardson International’s export registration. This meeting was held on March 17 and members agreed to invite the Ministers of Agriculture and Agri-Food and International Trade Diversification to appear at committee and discuss what is being done to restore market access to China for Canadian canola. However, the Liberal members of the committee voted down inviting the Minister of Foreign Affairs as a key witness, despite Opposition requests for answers to specifically prevent further retaliatory actions by China against Canada.
It is clear that our agriculture producers are paying for the mistakes of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government on the world stage. The Liberal government MUST stand up for Canada’s canola industry and demand that the Chinese government stop these baseless actions against Canada’s agriculture sector.
Our farmers deserve better than this.