Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the member for Prince Albert.
As this is my first time rising in the 43rd Parliament, I want to begin by thanking the people of Portage—Lisgar. I am grateful and humbled by the support and trust they have placed in me. This is the fourth time I have been elected by the riding of Portage—Lisgar and I am more appreciative than ever.
A huge thanks also to so many friends, volunteers and people who helped out during the campaign and supported me. I have a special thanks to my partner Michael. This is the first election campaign he jumped into, and he jumped in with both feet. I appreciate so much the love and support of family, friends and my constituents of Portage—Lisgar.
I know the people of Portage—Lisgar elected me to come here once again to not only be a strong voice, but a direct voice, to say things that have to be said and do things that have to be done. I know all of us in this place take that responsibility very seriously.
The motion we brought forward as an opposition party reflects that. We could have brought forward a number of issues today. There are still many outstanding issues from the last Parliament to do with ethics, accountability, the government and the rule of law. There are questions around higher taxes for Canadians and a real plan to combat greenhouse gas emissions. There are all kinds of issues that could have been addressed today in our opposition day motion, but we chose this for a number of reasons.
I am so happy we brought this forward. This is a very difficult issue, one surrounding our relationship with the Government of China. However, it is an issue that requires all of us to come together to find a solution. That is the spirit in which this motion is brought forward.
The motion would establish a special standing committee that would examine this specific issue. It would not wade into other issues but would only look at our deteriorating relationship with China and how to resolve it. I know there have been some questions from the Liberal side on why we do not let the foreign affairs committee do this.
The Liberals, especially, have said time and again that we should not direct committees on what they should or should not study. For the Liberals to now suggest that we would assume the foreign affairs committee would take it over is a bit of a contradiction in their own approach to committees. It is for that reason the Conservatives would not just expect that the foreign affairs committee would look at this situation.
This is not a challenge that can be solved in just five or six meetings. This issue is multipronged. It affects foreign affairs, trade and the rule of law. There are public safety issues around Huawei, for example. It is a multi-faceted challenge that requires a committee dedicated solely to helping find a solution. When we as parliamentarians come together, though we are in a minority Parliament, we can find a solution to this problem.
I will go over a couple of things.
Why do we need a solution and why do we need it now? It is obvious that this strained and broken relationship with the Government of China is having real, meaningful and very serious effects on Canadians, not only Canadian groups like our canola, pork and beef producers, which, in turn, affect jobs, families and certainty around all of these industries, but today especially, this is having a real impact on lives. The lives of individual Canadians are at risk. This certainly is an issue with which we should all be seized.
It is important to say that our reputation on the world stage is also being impacted by this. I think most of our partners know that the Government of China is not an easy government to deal with and that it is complex. How we deal with what China is doing to Canadians is being watched. We have to recognize that the impact is not only on individual Canadians, but also on us as a nation, and it needs to be addressed.
How did we get here? I believe, in part, there has been incompetence and some bad decisions by the current government and it is important that we recognize it. We cannot go back and undo all of the wrongs, but if we do not recognize some of the wrongs that have been done and the poor decisions that were made, we cannot move ahead.
Certainly, we have to discuss the complexity of having a relationship with a government like the government in Beijing, China. It is very complex. This is a regime that does not respect the rule of law. It does not respect democracy in many ways, which we are seeing in Hong Kong. It does not respect the very people who it is governing. I think we all recognize it is not an easy government with which to deal. This problem has been created because of some mistakes and it is also there because of the complexity of dealing with the Government of China.
I want to break that down very quickly.
A lot of the problems started before the Prime Minister became the prime minister, when he stated that he had an admiration for the basic dictatorship of China. I do not know if any of us, to this day, can understand why he would think that, but even more so why he would say that. That really begs a lot of questions, and I hope since then he has changed his mind. I hope he can now recognize that a dictatorship and the way that China operates are not to be admired at all. It is something to be recognized for what it is.
That was not a good start. He then became Prime Minister and in 2015 and well into 2016 and maybe even 2017, we saw the government basically courting the Government of China and many of the businesses that were part of that regime and trying to be courted by them, kowtowing to that regime. It was very hard to watch. A number of experts saw it.
I want to quote David Mulroney, former ambassador to China. In December 2018, he said, “I think the Liberals tended to be naive and have been naive. That precedes the current prime minister, but when the prime minister certainly in some of his statements said that it was the administration he most admired, it showed naivety.”
In a February 2019 column, Terry Glavin stated:
From the outset of his emergence on the national scene, [the] Prime Minister...has happily accepted the warm embrace of Canada's China business lobby, and his enthusiasms have not gone unrequited. From his appointment of Peter Harder of the Canada China Business Council to lead his transition team — Harder is now...[the Prime Minister]'s point man in the senate — to his private cash-for-access fundraisers with Chinese billionaires, [the Prime Minister] had been Beijing's hands-down favourite among G7 leaders.
Make no mistake that being a favourite of Beijing's G7 leaders is not a positive; it is a negative. He was seen as the little potato by the Chinese regime.
We saw that mistake really set the tone for our relationship. Subsequent to that, we saw issues where we, as Canadians and as a Canadian government, obeyed the rule of law. We arrested, under an extradition warrant, a certain Chinese executive. We then saw the retaliation of the Chinese government when it took two Canadians hostage. The relationship from there has gone downhill. We saw our former ambassador, John McCallum, mishandle, misfire and misspeak, which again showed great misjudgement.
In an interview in The Globe and Mail, Guy Saint-Jacques, a former ambassador, said, “apart from seeking support from allies...I am not clear on what is the strategy being pursued by the Canadian government. It may be useful if there was better communication.”
It would be useful if there were a strategy. If there is one, we have not seen it. The proposed committee will provide the opportunity for the government to get not only ideas, but input and buy-in from Parliament and show the Chinese government that we are united and that we will stand up for Canadians and Canada. We are not naive; we are sophisticated, strong and we have the ability to find a solution.
We ask all parties to support the motion and find a way forward to solve this ongoing crisis.