Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and continue my discussion on the importance of this special committee to investigate the trade relationship between Canada and China.
I will take this opportunity to read what Jeff Nielsen, the chair of Grain Growers of Canada, said earlier this week. It relates to the lack of any mention of agriculture in the throne speech and the crisis with canola. He said:
Yesterday’s Speech from the Throne displayed a concerning lack of understanding of the unique needs of Canada’s export-oriented agriculture producers. This is particularly surprising considering the magnitude of the challenges currently facing farmers in every province across the country.
The absence of any recognition of the dire circumstances facing farmers today, suggests that our political leaders are not only oblivious [to] the harsh realities facing Canada’s export oriented farmers, they are without a plan to address them.
That is a very stark comment by the chair of Grain Growers of Canada about the lack of any consideration for the crisis that Canadian farmers are facing when it comes to our relationship with China. As I said earlier in my speech, 250,000 jobs are at risk and about 45,000 producers across Canada are relying on access to that critical market.
What is in the bins from last year's harvest has already devalued by more than $1 billion. These funds are not going to farmers to pay off mortgages, loans on equipment or their input costs. It is money they need to purchase the seed to get ready for seeding next year. Many of those farmers have not even been able to harvest this year's crop because of an extremely harsh harvest.
Once again, this is a recurring issue with the Liberal government; it is not something new. The bungling of important trade relations with some of our most critical partners around the world has become a regular occurrence with the Prime Minister. It started with his “tickle trunk” tour of India, which has resulted in the loss of one of our most important customers for pea and pulse crops. Now we are losing our canola crop exports to China, our durum wheat exports to Italy, and barley and wheat exports to Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. It also impacted our relationship with Australia and Japan when we were going through the TPP signing process.
The Prime Minister does not seem to understand the importance of our global relations with some of our most important partners. Unfortunately, time and time again, those paying for these mistakes are in Canadian agriculture: our farmers and ranchers who work extremely hard every single day to ensure that they have the highest-quality products not only on our tables but for customers around the world.
We tried to address this last spring. We asked many times for an emergency debate. I believe it was eight times. Each and every single time the Liberals denied us that opportunity. Then we tried to bring it up at the trade committee and the agriculture committee, but many ministers refused to appear at those committees to discuss the issues we were facing. In fact, we heard the minister say that the crisis with China was not important enough, as it had not reached the stage for sending a delegation, which would have included ministers, to China to address this issue and regain market access.
That is why this special committee is so vital. Members from all parties would have an opportunity to discuss and debate this crisis with China.
Billions of dollars in trade are on the line. The lives of farmers and ranchers across Canada depend on this critical relationship with China. It behooves the government and all members of the House to be part of a special committee to investigate our relationship with China to ensure we get that critical market back.