Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this issue. I will be taking a different tack on what we are discussing today.
Our motion is asking the Prime Minister to come clean with the conspiracy theories he has been putting forward. This is an issue of concern for Canadians across the country who want to ensure that their Prime Minister is being honest, especially in his dealings with countries around the world like India, a trusted ally and one of the largest democracies in the world.
I want to touch on the very real consequences of the lack of judgment of the Prime Minister, as a result of his actions in India, and the ramifications that we are feeling here at home. What should have been one of the top priorities for the Prime Minister when he went to India was the significant trading issue we have with one of our most significant trading partners when it comes to Canadian agriculture, certainly with respect to our pulses, lentils, peas, and chickpeas.
The Conservative government grew Canada's pulse industry to a more than $4.5 billion industry. Farmers in my constituency of Foothills in southern Alberta and throughout the province are now growing crops like soybeans, chickpeas, and lentils, which were never grown there 10 years ago. As a result of new innovation and new technology they are able to grow these very lucrative crops. One of the reasons that they want to seed these crops is the opportunity to access lucrative new markets like India. However, over the last few months and as a result of the Prime Minister's actions in India, we have seen what was once a great opportunity for Canadian agriculture drop to not nearly that scope.
For example, in the days after the Prime Minister returned from India, the Indian government raised the tariff on Canadian chickpea exports from 40% to 60%. The Liberal government does not seem to understand the very real consequences for Canadians and Canadian entrepreneurs in agriculture as a result of its actions in India . Not only is this a question of the Prime Minister's embarrassing performance in India, but it is also having an impact here at home. I want to give the House some statistics with respect to just how profound this impact is.
The Prime Minister went to India to hopefully address some of these issues. When he came back, we found that not only had the issue not been addressed but it was substantially worse. To put that in perspective, the price Canadians were getting for a bushel of lentils prior to the fall was about $9 a bushel. Now we are getting just over $6.90 a bushel. That is a substantial decrease in the price that Canadians were getting for their product on the market. A great deal of that can be directly attributed to the Prime Minister's performance in India.
The fumigation issue was one that we were hoping the Prime Minister would be able to address on that trip. He said over there that they were able to bring that issue to the table, and I appreciate that, but they did not come home with any agreement, nothing was signed indicating that the fumigation issue was going to be addressed. In fact, there is no agreement. It is just maybe something that will be discussed further as we go through 2018. We have to understand the financial consequences of that.
When we talk about a shipment of these products that are going from Canada to India, we do not have the exemption on the fumigation, which we used to have. It sunsetted last December and the Indian government did not extend that exemption. It is now costing Canadian producers $700,000 per shipment on these products going to India. India is not asking us to necessarily fumigate our shipments, but it is charging us a fee when we send our products over there. India has also increased the tariffs on peas to 50% and on lentils to 30%. There is now a fear within the pulse industry in Canada that India could increase the tariffs on lentils to 100%, which is still within WTO rules.
My concern, and I think the concern that is shared by producers across the country, is that increasing these tariffs, including the latest one increasing the tariffs on chickpeas from 40% to 60%, is just a shot across the bow, just a warning shot that is saying to Canada that it must come clean with its actions when it comes to Jaspal Atwal and the claim that this was a conspiracy put forth by the Indian government. Until there is responsibility taken for the consequences, they are going to continue to take this out on Canadian farmers.
I certainly do not believe that is fair in any way, shape, or form, when our farmers or Canadian producers are the ones who are paying the very real consequences for the Prime Minister and his antics in India. Every single day here in question period, he continues to send mixed messages. Even in one single answer he is giving two different responses that simply do not mix. One cannot happen without the other. Either it was a conspiracy by the Indian government or it was an honest mistake, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said. It has to be one or the other, and it cannot be both. Until the Prime Minister steps forward, takes responsibility, and shows some accountability for his actions, we are going to continue to face some of these consequences, and it could get worse.
For example, there is a company in Saskatchewan that just recently signed a fertilizer agreement with India to supply India with potash. What makes this agreement so unprecedented is that it is the first potash mine in Canada that is being done in strong partnership with a first nation in Saskatchewan. The potash mine is actually on a first nation's land. This is something that the first nation community in northern Saskatchewan will benefit from. It is a memorandum of understanding between the first nation, the mining company, and India to supply potash. However, who is to say that they are not the next target? Will the next step for the Indian government be to say that they are not going to move forward with this agreement to supply potash from Canada to India? Is this another company or sector of industry that is going to be impacted by this?
I want to give my colleagues a quote from Gord Bacon who is the CEO of Pulse Canada, and was on that trip with the Prime Minister to India. Earlier on, when it came to the fumigation issue, Gord Bacon said, “There was never a science-based reason [for fumigation]. We were having to mix biological science with political science and the two never mixed well.” Thus, even with Pulse Canada and our producers across the country, they are raising alarms on the consequences of the Prime Minister's actions in India and the very real implications that this is having on the ground.
We are asking the Liberal government to quickly take action on this. I have to be honest. I am not expecting them to take quick action because we have certainly seen over the last several months that when it comes to Canadian agriculture and rural economic development, these are certainly not priorities for the Liberal government. In fact, when a lot of these issues were going on, our agriculture minister was nowhere to be found.
When the pulse and lentil tariffs were raised last fall, the Liberals sent a trade mission to India. The fumigation and trade issues with our pulse products were not even raised, not to mention that the agriculture minister was not even part of that delegation that went to India to discuss possible free trade agreements with that trading partner. Then again, in January, the Prime Minister went back to India. He took almost 20 MPs and ministers to go on his taxpayer family vacation and photo op extravaganza. This is one of the top issues that we are dealing with here, yet the agriculture minister was not among that massive entourage that went with the Prime Minister on that trip.
Then we talk about the grain backlog, which is another huge issue for our agriculture sector. The agriculture minister said it is not really a very serious issue when our producers cannot get their products to market. The transportation minister said that he is “satisfied” with what CN and CP are doing. Is he serious? At one point, sometimes only 6% of the railcars, the grain cars, that were ordered were actually being delivered. This tells me that when it comes to agriculture and rural economy, the Liberal government is more than happy to sacrifice our rural Canadians for their antics.
We need a Prime Minister who is going to take our global relations and our trading partnerships seriously. Canadian agriculture depends on it.