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question period — Foreign Affairs and International Trade

China--Canola Exports--Canadian Representation

May 15, 2019


[14:37]

Mr. Harder, in March 2016, during the Canada-China Legislative Association’s annual visit to China, we raised the issue of canola and negotiated an extension of the implementation of the new treasurer of canola dockage. Later, during Justin Trudeau’s official visit to China, he touted an agreement on regulation of foreign material until 2019, allowing for a three-year study to find out a science-based solution to the dockage issue.

What has the Liberal government done in the past three years to settle this matter? What finding has the study uncovered? The government’s inaction on this file is leaving little time for a resolution. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is dragging his heels, our farmers and economy are suffering.

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate)
[14:38]

I thank the honourable senator for his question. This is an issue that we have had a number of questions on, both in Senate Question Period and also with ministers concerned.

Let me repeat that the Government of Canada takes the challenge to our canola market, our farmers and our exporters very seriously. That is why the Government of Canada has, at the highest level and consistently, promoted the idea of a science-based approach and solution. That is why the Government of Canada has undertaken not only close working relationship with the exporting community but also to put in place appropriate support systems to our farmers in this time.

It is not unnoticed. I’m sure the senator would acknowledge, that the bilateral relationship is going through a period of challenge. That is why it is important for the government, as it is, to continue to be vigilant in all matters of the bilateral relationship and to take them very seriously.

[14:39]

Can you find out what happened in the past three years? After almost four months since the firing of Mr. McCallum, will the government finally be appointing a new ambassador to China?

Senator Harder
[14:40]

Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question. I want to assure him, as I have on other occasions when a similar question was asked, of the full support the government has with respect to the acting chargé. He is a person of not only sound experience and diplomatic skills but well placed to promote the interests of Canada in China.

The question with respect to a permanent appointment is one that the government is reviewing, and an announcement will be made at the appropriate time.

With regard to the preamble to that question, let me repeat: The government has consistently, throughout its time in office, sought to strengthen the bilateral economic relationship. There have been bumps on the road, including the canola issue, the response to which is being taken at the highest level in working with the sector and working with the farmers in terms of direct support. This is a challenge that I would suggest all sides have an interest in being resolved and not inflaming other aspects of the bilateral relationships that are under test.