The agriculture critics for the Conservative Party are calling on Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie Claude Bibeau to immediately tackle issues from compensation to the supply managed sectors to re-opening markets for canola in China during her current mandate.
"You can start by addressing issues your government failed to resolve over the past four years that require immediate attention," critic John Barlow and associate critic Richard Lehoux said in the letter to the minister. "These include, but are certainly not limited to, providing compensation for supply managed sectors, removing non-tariff barriers, reopening critical markets, reducing taxes, improving transportation infrastructure and supporting farmers and producers with mental health challenges."
The pair reminded the minister it has been almost a year since Canada was notified by the Chinese government of alleged "pests" in canola exports. They accused the minister of failing to stand up for the canola sector and they call on the minister to immediately launch an action against the world's most populated country with the World Trade Organization. The Conservative critics are also calling on the minister to support the withdrawal of Canada from the Asian Infrastructure Bank.
China has also banned soy imports, Italy has imposed new regulations on Canadian durum wheat, Vietnam has blocked Canadian wheat imports and India has imposed tariffs on Canadian pulses. They reminded the minister these measures are "not only hurting Canada's economy, but farm families from coast to coast. You must address these issues immediately and clearly outline how you will reverse the damage that has been done by these trade barriers."
They noted the Trudeau government gave up significant market access for supply managed commodities in the Canada United States Mexico agreement. They called for a definite timeline for producers to receive compensation from the deal. The agreement has not yet been ratified by Canada.
"The importance of good trade relationships for Canada's agriculture sector cannot be stressed enough," the critics told the minister. "More than half of the agri-food products grown in the Canada are exported, making Canada's agricultural sector important to Canada's farmers and producers-- predictable and dependable transportation is essential to success."
Barlow and Lehoux charged the recent rail strike at CN cost the agriculture industry over a billion dollars on top of a difficult growing and harvest season. They also charged the carbon tax instituted by Ottawa is leading to hundreds of dollars in extra expenses for many producers.
"All of these issues affect not only the bottom line for farm families from coast to coast but their mental health as well," the pair said. "Farmers and producers are continually affected by political issues beyond their control causing a mental health crisis in Canada's agriculture community."
They told the minister "you can take these mental health issues seriously by first addressing the review of the Business Risk Management which is critical. However, this is another broken promise by your government as the process has stagnated."