Madam Speaker, building on my question from last Friday about the issue with our canola producers across Canada and their inability to access the Chinese market, I want to go back to the throne speech. What was not in the throne speech is a very telling and loud statement on where our agriculture sector stands with the current Liberal government. In fact, agriculture was barely mentioned in the throne speech, which sent a very disconcerting message to our producers across Canada. We have a crisis with our trade embargo to China when it comes to canola, among other products, and it is very clear the Liberal government does not see this as an issue, let alone a priority strong enough to include in the throne speech.
My question on Friday was whether there was a plan or initiative by the government to address the canola crisis with China. I want to build on that and state the extent of this issue in terms of the Canadian economy.
There are more than 40,000 canola producers across Canada. This means more than $20 billion for the Canadian economy and more than 250,000 jobs are all at risk. This has been the case for almost a year.
When this crisis was first put upon us, we gave the Liberals some very concrete potential solutions they could follow up to try to address this issue with China. They included naming an ambassador to China, which took them more than eight months to do, and filing an official complaint with the WTO, which also took them more than eight months to do.
The WTO itself is now crumbling. The fact that the United States is not appointing judges to the WTO puts this issue in further peril for Canadian canola producers, as there may not be an avenue to resolve it if this judgment body does not exist, which is certainly a possibility in the next few weeks or months.
The other thing we asked the government to do as a potential solution, or at least to show China we meant business and were serious about this issue, was withdraw funding for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. More than $250 million from Canadian taxpayers is being given to the Government of China for it to build infrastructure across Asia. This includes pipelines, subsidized by the Canadian taxpayer, to be built in China rather than here at home. Taking at least one, two or three of these measures would have shown a position of force on the part of the Liberal government that we meant business with China.
The government set up a canola working group. Have the CFIA and a canola working group unequivocally ruled out that there are no pests in our canola, which China has claimed or identified as being hazardous? Have they ruled out the idea of pests being a reason for the trade blockade by China on our canola?