Madam Speaker, I will begin my speech, as I do with so many of my speeches, with an anecdote. I am privileged to have the opportunity to be here in the House to represent the good people of Calgary Midnapore and be their voice, and I am going to tell one of my favourite stories.
Several years ago, when I was a younger and fitter woman, I won the gold award from the Duke of Edinburgh. I was very excited to achieve and receive this award. I know that many young Canadians from coast to coast to coast strive for this award and the many different levels that can be achieved. I was very motivated by this gold award. It had numerous components. It had fitness, outdoors and community-service components. I undertook going after this award with great vigour and went on to achieve it, and it was presented to me by Prince Philip. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet him. I wish him and his family well at this time. That was one of my major introductions to the United Kingdom and all that it has to offer.
Of course, my interest in foreign affairs and diplomacy would continue, and in the early 2000s, when I wrote the foreign service exam and fortunately was accepted, I went on temporary duty to Argentina. I then went on to be the chargé d'affaires to El Salvador, which was a very proud moment for me.
It was a wonderful time to represent Canada abroad. As the chargé, when the head of mission is out of the country, I had the honour to act as Canada's representative. My accreditation ceremony was in El Salvador at the presidential palace. We had taken the motorcade through the nation, and when I received my accreditation along with my ambassador, I was told to always remain behind the ambassador except when she was out of the country. I was very proud to take on that role.
On one occasion I had an interesting bit of fortune. When Bill C-4, the Central American four agreement, was being negotiated with Canada, one round of negotiations was going to take place at a time when the head of mission was out of the country. As such, I became the representative. I was very excited and nervous. I went to the secure room, as a diplomat did back in the day, where a fax was printed out. I took the fax and read the notes over and over again about the positions on pork and sugar. I prepared and prepared.
The big moment came and I went off to the trade minister's office in El Salvador with my papers and my positions ready. The trade minister approached me, took the envelope out of my hand and told me to tell my government that El Salvador would get back to it in two weeks. The big moment I had prepared for had come and gone.
My point here is that diplomats only do what their governments ask them to do. I would later go on to speak about this in the chamber when our current leader of the official opposition asked me to respond to a situation that unfortunately took place at our high commission in India, after the government's administration organized an event and an accused terrorist was there. I went through the process of responding to this in the House. I walked the caucus through what goes into vetting a list of individuals who are invited to an event and what that looks like.
I still remain true to the fact that a diplomat and a trade negotiator only do what their government asks them to do, as was my experience with the Bill C-4 negotiation, which unfortunately did dissolve, and I believe ended up being a unilateral agreement with Honduras. Nonetheless something came out of it.
My sentiments right now in regard to the response of the government on so many things, but also in regard to this agreement as well, is disappointment, because so much more could be done. I think about what could have been the potential response for this pandemic in terms of trade opportunities. Certainly, it has been a very difficult year. We are coming up on the one-year anniversary, when we were all sent home from this beautiful chamber.
When this was occurring and we were seeing world forces shifting, I was considering the fact that it would be an incredible time for Canada to re-evaluate its position in the world. Were I the prime minister, I would have done a complete evaluation of our inventory from coast to coast to coast of natural resources, from energy, minerals, agriculture and textile, and really looked at how markets were changing and emerging, perhaps with less reliance on China and Europe turning inward to evaluate those opportunities.
We see opportunities missed within this legislation. This is a theme, unfortunately, with the government. What I am pointing to with the unfortunate situation that happened in India and with this trade agreement is that the government has had no guiding values for foreign policy. We have seen this time and time again. We have seen this with how it is handling the situation with China and the two Michaels who remain incarcerated. We saw this with the government's lack of will and gumption to stand up to China in regard to the Uighur motion. We saw this with the current deputy minister's tweets regarding Saudi Arabia. We saw this with a stance I wish would have been more firm regarding Venezuela.
All of these indicators have shown that the government has no foreign policy values. Again, this trade agreement is just a by-product of the government's inability to have a coherent strategic foreign policy that looks out for the best interests of Canadians and for Canada.
What makes me the most sad is when I think of the opportunities missed, comparably to the previous administration, of which the previous speaker belonged, and of the greats, of Harper and Kenney and Baird. I was very fortunate at the time to be a policy adviser. I took one year away from my foreign service career to serve the current member for Thornhill who was minister of state for the Americas at the time.
We had principles which guided us. Those included among them, democracy. Are we really standing up for democracy here in Canada and acting as an example to the world currently? I do not think we are. Are we standing up for justice? I do not think we are. Are we standing up for the prosperity of the world and the prosperity of Canadians right now? I do not think we are. I am certainly not seeing it within this trade agreement.
I extend this beyond this trade agreement. As I said, I feel as though the Liberal government has been a government of missed opportunities. We have seen this with the pandemic, the opportunity to prepare better, to prepare Canadians better, to avoid so much of the hardship, illness and death that we have seen as a result of this terrible last year, a result of not preparing better for the economy and missed opportunities here. I would include this trade agreement within this the inability to look forward.
This is the crux of the opposition motion that we have had here today, the inability to think forward for Canada's economic prosperity. Finally, it is the opportunity missed for foreign policy, to stand up for strong values, Canadian values, and that includes with this trade agreement.