Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
Mr. Speaker, three years ago the Liberals offered up the welfare of residents of British Columbia seniors homes to a Chinese company with no experience in seniors care, perhaps as an offering ahead of a free trade agreement that never happened. Since then, that company has been seized by the Chinese government and today a third Anbang-owned seniors home has had to have its operations taken over because of deplorable living conditions.
How much do these seniors have to suffer before the Liberals will act?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, this is obviously a very important issue and the safety and well-being of seniors is of the utmost priority. As the member knows, the provincial government in British Columbia is responsible for health care, and it has put forward a rigorous standard of care on all operators.
With respect to the Investment Canada Act, which I am responsible for, we are monitoring and making sure that those obligations are met and we will take swift actions if those obligations are not met.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that neglect, abuse, hygiene issues and everything that has led to this takeover is an action that requires some sort of review under the act that the minister is responsible for. Come on; abdicating responsibility to the provincial government when seniors are suffering is ridiculous. When will the minister take his responsibility under the act, review this transaction and make sure that these seniors have a better life?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, again, we understand this is very difficult and challenging for the seniors and we want to make sure that their well-being is of the utmost priority. However, with respect to health care, the rigorous standards are applied by the provincial government. It is overseeing the operator and will make sure those obligations are met.
With respect to jobs and the footprint with regard to Cedar Tree, those are legal obligations under the Investment Canada Act, and we will make sure that it follows through on those obligations.
View Dan Mazier Profile
Mr. Speaker, farmers across western Canada are being forced to pay a carbon tax to dry their crops after a wet and difficult harvest. Many of these farmers are drying canola and still have no timeline as to when they will be able to sell their product to China, our largest export market for canola.
Could the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell Canadian farmers what plan they have, if any, to restore market access to China, and tell the House if the government will immediately remove the carbon tax from the cost of drying their grain?
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, once again, we are working with canola producers and their representatives to make sure that we make the right moves. We are working in collaboration with the provinces as well.
We are working hard to diversify the markets. We are having technical discussions between CFIA and Chinese officials. Ambassador Barton is in the field working hard as well.
The member can be assured that we are taking this very seriously.
View Kyle Seeback Profile
View Kyle Seeback Profile
2019-12-13 12:01 [p.464]
Mr. Speaker, I recently met with the Dufferin Federation of Agriculture, all hard-working farmers in my riding. They are suffering from a lack of market access for soybean and canola as a result of unresolved trade disputes.
In the U.S., the government is stepping up with a $28 billion market facilitation program. Other than words like “we stand with” or “we always support”, what is the government actually doing to support soybean and canola farmers?
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we stand with our partners and farmers because this is very important. It is a priority for us. I spend a lot of time talking to stakeholders and farmers themselves. We have a strategy that we have developed with them to reopen the market in China and diversify our markets.
Next week, I will be meeting with the ministers of agriculture from the provinces and the territories. We are committed to improving our business risk management programs as well. We know the risks have changed through recent years in terms of climate, in terms of trade and we are committed to improve the business risk management suite.
View Brad Redekopp Profile
View Brad Redekopp Profile
2019-12-13 13:01 [p.472]
Mr. Speaker, I want to inform you that I am splitting my time with the member for Calgary Centre.
It is my honour to rise in the House today for my maiden speech. I first want to thank the voters of Saskatoon West for putting their faith and trust in me as their representative in this House of Commons for this, the 43rd Parliament. I am humbled and honoured and grateful that they would trust me with this privilege. My pledge to them is that I will do my very best to represent them here in Ottawa and bring their views to Ottawa.
I want to thank my election team of Sunny, Braden, Alex, Kaitlyn, Donna-Lyn, Josh and Jared. I offer a special shout-out to the University of Saskatchewan Campus Conservatives club, which helped with a lot of door knocking. I offer big thank you to my friend the hon. member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek and her husband, Milton Block, for all of their encouragement, and to so many volunteers and donors who made this all possible.
As everybody in here knows, family support is critical to our success, and so I want to thank my parents, Alvin and Irene Redekopp; my sister, Gaylene Molnar, and her family; my two wonderful sons, Kyle and Eric Redekopp; and of course my beautiful wife, Cheryl Redekopp. I could not have done this without them.
It is for these people and for the 75,000 other people who live in Saskatoon West that I am replying to the Speech from the Throne today.
Unfortunately, I cannot and I will not support it.
This throne speech calls for “unity in the pursuit of common goals and aspirations.” The Prime Minister talks about listening and about parliamentarians working together, but the throne speech says almost nothing about the aspirations of people from Saskatoon. Not only that, the Prime Minister brings in policy after policy that targets the people of Saskatoon and our economy.
Let me explain the economy in Saskatchewan. If we think of a three-legged stool, the first leg is agriculture: wheat, canola, barley, oats and things like that. The second leg is mining: potash, uranium, gold and diamonds. The third leg is oil and gas. Last year, in 2018, these three sectors accounted for 36% of our GDP in Saskatchewan. The seat of the stool is manufacturing and construction. We manufacture machinery, industrial equipment and food products, while construction is the infrastructure that supports all of that work and all of the people. In 2018, those two sectors were 14% of our Saskatchewan GDP. Taken together, the legs and the seat of the stool account for 50% of Saskatchewan's GDP.
The other half of our GDP is the services that support our residents: things like stores, restaurants, education, health care and everything else. These things all sit on the stool, but the legs of our stool, the foundation of our GDP, are mining, oil and gas, and agriculture.
We all know that these three sectors are suffering in Saskatchewan.
In terms of the oil and gas leg, the no-more-pipelines bill, Bill C-69, has restricted capacity to ship our oil to markets. The selling price of oil is down, investment is down, and therefore there are fewer jobs.
The mining leg is also affected by Bill C-69. It politicizes the impact assessment process and adds significant time and uncertainty to the approval process. Companies no longer see Saskatchewan as the safe, stable place it once was to invest. Therefore, investments are going elsewhere and jobs are disappearing.
On the agricultural leg, the Liberals' continuing relationship failures with China have hurt our canola producers.
What does all this mean to the people of Saskatoon? When the legs of the stool are crippled, everyone suffers. Unemployment is up and people are struggling to pay their bills. During the election, I talked to many households and many families who were struggling to make their monthly payments, and on the campaign I spoke to many of the people we talk about who are short $200 every month.
I want to provide some vignettes of some real people and how this affects them.
I think of a young man who used to work on an oil drilling rig. He drove seven hours from Saskatoon to work in Drayton Valley, Alberta. He worked a two-week shift of 12-hour days, made really good money and spent that money in Saskatoon on vehicles, restaurants, stereo equipment, etc. I know this because this young man is my son. In 2015, the Liberals came to power. They introduced the no-more-pipelines bill and the no-more-tankers bill, and this drove down the price of our Canadian oil and reduced our investment. As a result, my son lost his job and, there was no more spending in Saskatoon.
Another example is a manufacturer who supplied components to the mining and the oil and gas industries. The manufacturer employed 140 people in Saskatoon. Those were well-paying jobs supporting 140 families in Saskatoon. I know this because my brother-in-law works at that company. Because of Bill C-69, investment in resource projects decreased, and the result was that people were laid off as the company adjusted to decreased business.
Fortunately, Saskatonians are resilient and creative problem-solvers, so they looked elsewhere and found business to keep the company going, but the business is smaller than it would have been had the oil and gas market kept going strong.
Let us think of an entrepreneur who build new homes for families, directly employed four people, indirectly hired 40 different contractors to complete all the work required and created several million dollars of economic spinoffs in Saskatoon. I know this because this was my business. Because of the Liberals' mortgage stress test, new homebuyers are forced out of the market. Because of changes in building codes, the cost to build a home significantly increased, and as a result, construction activity in Saskatoon has significantly slowed down. In fact, housing starts are at the lowest level in 14 years. Many good people in the construction industry are suffering or have lost their jobs.
What did I expect from the Liberal government throne speech in the spirit of working together? I certainly expected support for western Canadian jobs. After all, two days after the Liberals were reduced to a minority in October, the Prime Minister said he clearly has more to do to earn the trust of people in Saskatchewan. I expected support for oil and gas, mining and farmers.
What did I actually hear?
I heard a vague reference to natural resources and farmers, no mention of the Trans Mountain pipeline, no mention of a national energy corridor, nothing about repealing or even making changes to Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, and certainly no concern for our rapidly growing and dangerous debt. I think Rex Murphy said it best when he said the Speech from the Throne “is a semantic graveyard, where dullness and pretentiousness conspire, successfully, against the life and lift of our two wonderful official languages.”
Housing was mentioned in the throne speech, and I hope the government will follow through on that issue. There are many people in my riding for whom good, stable housing is out of reach. As a former home builder, I call upon the government to relax the mortgage stress test, as this has had a significant negative impact on construction in Saskatoon.
One thing barely mentioned in the throne speech was the word “job”. The Liberals are quick to offer money to Canadians for this or that and to offer handouts to make up for their lack of action on the economy, but let me tell members something about people from Saskatoon: We are proud, hard-working folks, and we do not want handouts; we want good-paying jobs.
Saskatoon is also filled with entrepreneurs, people willing to take great risks in order to employ others and build our economy. Entrepreneurs do not want handouts; they want a stable playing field with reasonable regulations and the freedom to work hard, succeed and then enjoy the benefits when success does happen.
There were two other words conspicuously absent from the throne speech: “balanced budget”. I am gravely concerned that the Liberal government has chosen to spend seemingly unlimited amounts of money on every kind of program, with no concern for the underlying economy that pays for all of this. We are burdening our future generations with debt that will have to be paid back at some point. I call upon the government to at least plan to return to balanced budgets.
Finally, Saskatchewan people care deeply about our environment. All three of the stool legs I spoke of earlier are rooted in our land. No one is a better steward of our land than people from Saskatchewan. We all understand that healthy land, water and air are critical to our long-term success, but we cannot adopt a zealot-like approach, assuming that the only way to have a healthy planet is to stop human development and to stifle innovation and economic growth. We cannot sacrifice the agriculture, mining, and oil and gas industries of Saskatchewan and Alberta in exchange for a photo op with Greta. We cannot stifle economic growth and continue to increase taxes on our people.
This throne speech made it clear that the government intends to continue to raise the carbon tax. Taxes will rise, with no meaningful impact on carbon. This will hurt ordinary Canadians and business owners.
In conclusion, Canada's Conservatives are focused on the aspirations of everyday Canadians, like the good people of Saskatoon West. We are the party of the middle class, and we will continue to present real and tangible ideas that will allow people to get ahead and get the government off their backs.
As I close, I want to congratulate and thank the leader of my party for his tireless dedication and work over the past 15 years. I also want to wish everyone in this chamber a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2019-12-11 14:29 [p.267]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the House voted to take the crisis between Canada and the Government of China seriously by establishing a special committee to look at all aspects of the government's handling of that relationship. After China's unlawful imprisonment of two Canadians, after its putting blocks on our exports of canola and other products, the Prime Minister still has not stood up for Canadians.
Will the Prime Minister at least take the very practical step of withdrawing Canada's funding for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2019-12-11 14:30 [p.267]
Mr. Speaker, over the past year, we have been working at all levels to ensure the safety of the Canadians being detained, and indeed continue to advocate for their release as we stand up for our canola farmers, as we protect our beef and pork exporters and as we continue to engage with this important trading partner, while at the same time standing up for human rights every step of the way.
We recognize there is an opportunity to collaborate further on the special committee on China. We just certainly hope the opposition parties will be careful not to play politics and endanger the lives of those Canadians with it.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2019-12-11 15:49 [p.280]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, a gentleman with whom I served on Barrie City Council. I am happy that he has joined us in the House.
Tributes have already been done for the hon. Deepak Obhrai but I want to say how much he will be missed not just by our party but by all parliamentarians. A member mentioned that he was quite quotable. I used to sit here in amazement every time Deepak would speak and how many times he would say “Mr. Speaker” or “Madam Speaker”. I think he said that more in his speeches than the content, but it certainly showed the level of respect he had for Parliament and for the Chair.
Since this is the first time that I have been up to speak in this 43rd Parliament I have a few people I would like to thank.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the people of Barrie—Innisfil for electing me for a second term. I am humbled. I am appreciative. I certainly will continue to work hard and smart on their behalf.
I also want to thank all of my volunteers who helped throughout the campaign, and my campaign manager. Most importantly, I want to thank my family, my wife Liane, and my children for their unwavering support and understanding for what I do as the member of Parliament for Barrie—Innisfil. I appreciate all of their support during the election campaign and their ongoing support as well.
As I rise today to speak about the Speech from the Throne, what I am going to focus on more than anything are the things that were not in the Speech from the Throne. There were a lot of things, a lot of platitudes and a lot of words, but there are issues that are facing this nation that were not in the throne speech and I am not quite sure why, because those issues that were not in there are issues of significant importance to this country. These are issues like national unity.
Coming from a province like Ontario, I do not think the people of Ontario really understand the magnitude and the depth of what is going on in western Canada. Obviously, we work with colleagues from western Canada and we hear on a daily basis what is going on there, and it is dire.
What we did not see in the Speech from the Throne from the government is how we are going to deal with the situation with respect to natural resources and how we are going to get our products to market. How are we going to deal with some of the legislation that was passed in the previous Parliament that is going to continue to affect our natural resource sector? This is causing significant unity issues.
Just this week the Premier of Alberta brought a delegation to Ottawa. We have heard the Premier of Saskatchewan and others speak about just how dire the situation is and yet the government is seemingly not paying as much attention as it should. Certainly it is not doing what it should and that is to repeal some of the pieces of legislation that are impacting our colleagues and our friends in western Canada.
Other things that were not in the throne speech were issues of economic and fiscal policy. There was no end in sight, nothing mentioned with respect to debt and deficit situations and the fact that the Liberal government will continue to spend. Although the Liberals call it investing, they are continuing to spend billions and billions of dollars. That is increasing not only the debt but it is also increasing the deficit. In a minority situation, we will be under tremendous amounts of pressure from the other opposition parties to increase that debt and deficit situation. That is quite concerning as well.
What concerns me the most and I know coming out of the election what concerns the people of Barrie—Innisfil is our fiscal capacity to deal with a downturn in the economy. That is going to be one of the biggest challenges. By all indicators the economy is stalling. We saw that there were 71,000 job losses last month. Canada's position in the G7 is diminishing in terms of the debt-to-GDP ratio. We are quite concerned about the government's ability to deal with that going forward if we do face those strong economic headwinds.
Our role in the world was not addressed in the throne speech. The Canada-China crisis is worthy of attention, but that was not mentioned in the throne speech, and it took an opposition day motion to move the government in the direction we need to deal with those issues.
Those are some of the things that were not in the throne speech that caused me concern. The amendments that were put forward by the Leader of the Opposition will address a lot of the issues that were not addressed in the throne speech. These include economic and fiscal policy, natural resources and how to work to make sure that we see an uptick in the economy of Alberta and western Canada and Saskatchewan. I am asking that the government take very seriously the amendments that were put forward in order for us to deal with those situations.
What we did see was a government that seemingly went all-in. Just as if it was a game of poker, they went all-in and splashed all their chips onto the table on the issue of climate change. There is not one person in this House or one person across Canada who does not believe that man-made climate change is having an effect. The challenge we are having right now is that we need to have a national conversation about it.
In the election there was a lot of rhetoric and political posturing of the parties with respect to climate change. I agree with the former premier of New Brunswick, Frank McKenna, on this issue, that if we are going to go to a zero-based carbon economy, we need to understand what the implications of that are on not just Canada's economy, but also Canada as a place around the world and how it can impact a global change.
Canada, quite frankly, is punching above its weight when it comes to the issue of climate change. We need to be free of that rhetoric. We need to get back to having a discussion of what that impact is going to look like and how we are going to position Canada to be economically competitive going forward when seemingly the rest of the world is not moving in that direction. That is a conversation that we should have and could have in this minority Parliament. Looking at the rest of the world, just recently China built a rail system. The sole purpose of that rail system is to move coal to coal-fired electrical plants. One of the things that we talked about throughout the campaign was that Canada has the ability to impact the global climate crisis. Even the Prime Minister acknowledged the fact that even if we were to go to a zero-based carbon economy tomorrow, it would have zero impact around the world, unless and until Canada leads the way when it comes to the type of technology and innovation that we can offer.
The other thing that I was disappointed in is the fact that during the campaign, one of the ministers came up to Barrie and announced that the Liberals were going to invest $40 million into Lake Simcoe. This was after the Conservatives had already promised an investment into Lake Simcoe and to reinstate the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund. I want to make sure that the government is aware of how important the health, vitality and sustainability of Lake Simcoe are to central Ontario and our ecosystem. We are going to continue to push the government on that.
Finally, the voters of Barrie—Innisfil asked me to represent them here. I am asking that the government listen to the voters of not just Barrie—Innisfil, but across Canada to protect our national unity, to protect our economy, protect our environment, protect the energy and agricultural sectors and keep life affordable for Canadians. I ask the government to support our amendment going forward so that we can move forward.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-12-10 10:11 [p.175]
That, in light of the prolonged diplomatic crisis with China, the House appoint a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada–China relationship including, but not limited to, consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations:
(a) that the committee be composed of 12 members, of which six shall be government members, four shall be from the official opposition, one shall be from the Bloc Québécois and one from the New Democratic Party;
(b) that changes in the membership of the committee shall be effective immediately after notification by the whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House;
(c) that membership substitutions be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2);
(d) that the members shall be named by their respective whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee no later than January 15, 2020;
(e) that the Clerk of the House shall convene an organization meeting of the said committee for no later than January 20, 2020;
(f) that the committee be chaired by a member of the government party;
(g) that notwithstanding Standing Order 106(2), in addition to the Chair, there be one vice-chair from the official opposition, one vice-chair from the Bloc Québécois and one vice-chair from the New Democratic Party;
(h) that quorum of the committee be as provided for in Standing Order 118 and that the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government;
(i) that the committee be granted all of the powers of a standing committee, as provided in the Standing Orders, as well as the power to travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada;
(j) that the committee have the power to authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings; and
(k) that the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Public Safety, and the Canadian ambassador to China be ordered to appear as witnesses from time to time as the committee sees fit.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-12-10 10:11 [p.176]
Mr. Speaker, this is a very important debate that our Parliament is seized with today and I want to thank the leader of the Conservative Party and our caucus for bringing this to Parliament. This is an example of how this Parliament can fulfill its function, challenging the government, holding them to account for a record on which foreign affairs is quite weak, but also propose methods that allow for better resolutions. That is what this opposition day motion and the proposal of a special committee of Parliament on Canada-China relations is all about.
I want to start off with two reflections. The first is that today marks one year since Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were arrested by Chinese state authorities and detained without charge, and without access to a lawyer or to the rule of law. They were arbitrarily detained as a diplomatic response to a lawful extradition arrest performed by Canada, a rule of law country, on behalf of the U.S. and a decision by a U.S. court. Canada acted with full respect of its rule of law traditions and China's actions have reflected and reminded us that there is no rule of law.
I am sure I speak for all Conservatives, parliamentarians and Canadians in saying that we stand in solidarity with the families of the two Michaels. We want their well-being to be safeguarded and we want to see them return home to Canada as quickly as possible. Today, we will be talking about many facets of the Canada-China relationship with its many challenges and some opportunities. However, we are not going to speak further about the two Michaels, out of respect for that case and the need for a resolution.
What is promising about this motion is the specialized committee that we are proposing. It would be all-party and multidisciplinary, with the ability to look at all aspects of the Canada-China relationship from complex consular cases to national security issues, to trade, to global affairs, within the context of a committee that can go in camera and respect secret and sensitive information. That is probably the best venue to come up with a plan for a swift resolution for the situation of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig. I hope the government takes that into consideration when they consider voting on our motion later today.
I hope all members of this House realize this could be an opportunity to actually take the politics out of it, but allow us to do our job because Canadians are concerned about the well-being of these citizens. Canadians are well-seized with issues related to China from the South China Sea islands, to Huawei, to the situation with the Uighurs, to Chinese ambitions in the Arctic as a self-declared “near-Arctic state”, a new diplomatic term that really did not exist until they created it.
The challenge of the China relationship is the foreign policy challenge that Canada will face over the next generation. This is a perfect opportunity for a specialized committee of parliamentarians to examine it to make sure that Canada gets the balance right.
The second thing I will say at the outset of my remarks is that there are tremendous opportunities in China. However, for those opportunities, many of them business and many of them export-driven, Canada cannot and must not relinquish our unbridled support for the rule of law, for human rights and for standing up for our allies and friends around the world. In many cases, economic opportunities would not be worth it if Canada had to sacrifice the values that we are respected for and have been respected for since Confederation.
All governments in the modern era, going back to that of the Prime Minister's father, have tried to balance the need to engage trade, do business and help develop parts of China, alongside the need to push on human rights, democratic reform, rule of law and a higher standard in global affairs, so there is a tremendous opportunity.
I am frustrated that in recent years the Communist Party of China seems to be stepping back from its path of engagement as a serious law-abiding world power.
Years ago, before my election to Parliament, I spoke at a business luncheon in Toronto. The law firm I was at, like many exporting companies in Canada, saw the tremendous growth potential in China, the second-largest economy, with growth rates in the double digits in recent decades. I introduced the ambassador to China at the time, who was speaking to a Toronto business audience. I used a Chinese proverb: One generation plants the trees, the next generation enjoys the shade.
The hard work going into the early development of modern China was started by Pierre Trudeau and continued through all prime ministers, and goes back to iconic Canadians like Norman Bethune and hundreds of missionaries and other Canadian citizens who engage with China. These relationships have planted the trees. We have done the hard work. We should be enjoying the shade now. That proverb ended up being the ambassador's favourite expression, because it gets to the heart of diplomacy: We do the hard work so that future generations can benefit.
Canada has been a leading partner in China's development from its being a truly developing country into the world's second-largest economy, a global power. We have been at the forefront with Dr. Bethune and have been there to help with agricultural practices. We have been there with our CANDU technology to provide greenhouse gas emission-free power through nuclear generating stations in a country that is too reliant on coal. We have been there to trade. We have seen pandas come; we have seen trade missions go. We have tremendous companies in financial services, agriculture and transportation, leading companies like Manulife, Bombardier, Agrium and others that have done billions of dollars of business with China in the last decades. We should be very thankful for that but should also be very cautious.
In recent years, particularly in light of the 19th national congress, China has been stepping back from serious engagement on the world stage. The Communist Party has been exerting its influence through all levels of Chinese life, including through state-owned enterprises and their global effort. We have seen the belt and road initiative, making countries beholden and in debt to China for infrastructure and other projects.
We have to be cautious with the turn that China has taken in the last 10 years. Rather than this generation walking in the shade of the trees that were planted in the past, we are now almost lost in the woods on how best to handle this important relationship without sacrificing Canadian values.
Why are we bringing forward this debate on our first opposition motion? It is because we have had serious concerns with the Prime Minister's ability to govern in Canada's national interest on the world stage. All Canadians now have no confidence in the Prime Minister when he goes abroad.
We used to bemoan the fact that Canada was never talked about on the world stage. Now we cannot see a late night talk show or Saturday Night Live without seeing our Prime Minister being lampooned for his actions on the world stage, gaffes that hurt Canada's national interest. At the NATO meetings, the Prime Minister mocked the U.S. President, the very person we need to help us apply pressure for the release of our citizens in China.
This is at a time when NATO is being questioned by the President of France and the U.S. President. Canada could play its traditional role as a linchpin, as Winston Churchill described us, between Europe and North America. We are a G7 nation, we are a NATO nation, we are a NORAD nation and we are a Five Eyes nation. Canada is never the biggest, but we have those relationships that normally we could use to influence our national interest, the freedom and liberty of others and the interests of the Western alliance. That has eroded. Canada is now seen in a way that is probably best represented by the Prime Minister's state visit to India, where he put photographs, his brand and the Liberal Party's fortunes ahead of Canada's national interest.
With respect to China, our concerns have been grounded in the very earliest actions of the government. I am hoping many of the new Liberal members of Parliament listen, because their role now in caucus is to ask questions. They should be just as worried as Conservatives are when it comes to China.
Former Canadian ambassador to China, David Mulroney, has called the Prime Minister's approach to China naive, and I would agree. I will not make much of the comment he made before the election that he had admiration for the basic dictatorship. I am not sure if it was joke or if that is just how it was received, because it was such a ridiculous answer.
However, the influence of a very pro-Beijing element in the Prime Minister's core team was evidenced right in the earliest days. The Liberal transition team in 2015 was led by the president of the Canada China Business Council. He is now sitting in the Senate at the appointment of the Prime Minister.
In May of 2016, the first year of the Liberal government, the Prime Minister was revealed to have been in some cash-for-access fundraisers with major figures, oligarch-level people with close ties to the Chinese state. I remember my friend from Red Deer—Lacombe brought up the point in the House, with great delivery, that not only were the Liberal Party coffers being filled, but a $200,000 donation was made to the Trudeau Foundation by a wealthy business person connected to the Chinese state. In fact, money was put aside for a statue of Pierre Trudeau. These were the earliest days.
In their first few months of government, the Liberals also reversed a decision that stopped the sale of a technology company to a Chinese-controlled company. In fact, late in the Harper government, the sale of ITF Technologies to O-Net Communications was blocked by the Conservative government on security grounds. There was direct energy research and development that could have been weaponized or militarized, and the sale was stopped in July 2015. Within the first few months of the Liberal government, the Liberals set aside the blocking of that transaction and a few months later approved the sale, with military-related technology, for a Chinese state enterprise.
Mr. Speaker, do you not think our Five Eyes allies noticed that? It was seen as reversing a responsible security decision by the previous Conservative government because of the new Prime Minister's desire to engage with China on a free trade agreement.
It did not end there. The next year, the Liberals approved the sale of Norsat to Hytera, another Chinese-controlled enterprise, leading to outrage from the Pentagon, which had contracts with this Canadian military communications company. In fact, a trade commissioner in the U.S., a Democrat appointed by Obama, said about the sale:
Canada's approval of the sale of Norsat to a Chinese entity raises significant national-security concerns for the United States as the company is a supplier to our military....
Canada may be willing to jeopardize its own security interests to gain favour with China.
He also said that it shouldn't put the security of a close ally at risk in the process. This was the commissioner of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a Democrat appointed by the bromance partner of the Prime Minister, President Obama.
This is not agitating language. These are serious concerns that were brought up to the foreign affairs committee when its members travelled to Washington. Right off the bat we saw the ability to sweep through sales, which likely should have been stopped on security grounds, to curry favour in the relationship.
There are also a significant number of human rights concerns. I have raised in the House this week that millions of people over the last few months have been protesting on the streets of Hong Kong. The government has been virtually silent on that. There are 300,000 Canadians living there. Seventy-eight years ago this week, Canadians from the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles were fighting in defence of Hong Kong. We lost hundreds in the battle that ended on Christmas day and lost hundreds more in POW camps in Japan. We therefore not only have our national interest and our citizens, but also our blood represented in Hong Kong, and the government has been reserved in its comments.
It has also been reserved in its comments on the very disturbing internment and re-education of up to one million Uighurs. This is an area where we must be able to balance our values as a country and the need for us to speak out with the commercial interest.
Under the Prime Minister, all other issues have taken a back seat. In fact, before his state visit there in 2016, the Liberals were pre-positioning for a free trade agreement announcement. It is clear that the commercial interest has been overriding with the Prime Minister and the Liberal government regarding national security issues, the Huawei decision that has never come, our virtual silence on many significant human rights cases and the fact that our Asia-Pacific partners are very worried about the militarization of artificial islands built in the South China Sea. Seventy per cent of global trade passes through those waters. The last Pacific naval visit by one of our frigates was surveilled by China the whole time the frigate was there. China is making efforts to keep Taiwan away from bodies like the World Health Organization, an organization meant to stop contagions from spreading around the world, isolating countries like that. Canada is once again not being as forceful as it should.
Conservatives are asking for this special committee so that Canada can make progress toward having a balanced position on China after four years of no balance under the Prime Minister.
Since we are acknowledging the one-year anniversary of the detention of our citizens, in the last year alone Conservatives recommended a travel advisory. It took the government three months to implement it. Within weeks we asked for the Prime Minister to engage directly. He refused and claimed it was just a regular consular case, when it was not. By the time he and the previous minister tried to engage, they could not get their calls returned. We said there was flexibility within the Extradiction Act to move Ms. Meng's trial to a faster jurisdiction. That would have shown, within the rule of law and the act, an expedited process in return for favour to our citizens. The Liberals did not act on that.
The committee called Mr. McCallum to appear in camera. I cannot talk about it, but I wish it had been televised. Members can probably understand why he is no longer the ambassador. He contradicted himself several times and had to resign. We wanted an ambassador appointed immediately and the Liberals waited until the election to appoint Mr. Barton, without consultation with opposition parties. We asked them to withdraw Canada's participation in the Asian Infrastructure Bank. We asked them to immediately bring a WTO challenge with respect to canola and other commodities unfairly impacted by trade. The Liberals waited until two days before an election, a delay of six months. Our allies are not there for us, because of the current lack of seriousness the Prime Minister has on the world stage.
Let me leave everyone with Mr. McCallum's final comments, which illustrate why we need this committee and need to be serious with China. When he was leaving for the assignment, he said:
When China and Canada have disagreed on something, and this sometimes happens, all three prime ministers I have served have drawn on this friendship to speak respectfully but frankly to their Chinese counterparts. I know this long tradition will continue.
It did not continue. With this special committee it can continue, and we can be serious and have a balanced approach when it comes to China.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2019-12-10 10:32 [p.178]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Durham for the concerns he raised, which I think every member of the House has, with respect to the very sensitive, and at times trying, diplomatic relationship we have with China.
I have a very simple question for the member. Last spring, the Canada-China legislative committee, the body that looks at the parliamentary relationship between Canada and China, took a mission to China.
The Conservative Party opted to send no members from its caucus on that trip. During that mission, we were able to meet with officials from the central committee, particularly members from the foreign affairs committee. We were able to raise sensitive issues around the consular cases, as well as other issues such as trade and the arbitrary detention of Canadians. However, new-found interest in this case has now come to Parliament.
Why did the Conservative Party choose not to send members on a very important trip to make sure that its voice was heard in a good parliamentary tradition?
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