Mr. Speaker, after so many tributes to one of our colleagues, it is hard to get back to the debate on a bill like Bill S-6.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the member for Sydney—Victoria on all he has done. The kind words coming from all sides of the House prove that he was obviously very well liked and wonderful to work with all these years. I too would like to wish him all the best.
We are here today to debate Bill S-6. Our job is to talk about bills and discuss the various motions brought before the House. Bill S-6 implements the convention between Canada and the Republic of Madagascar for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, and a related protocol.
The convention is based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's model tax convention on income and on capital. A bill like this is introduced for two main reasons. The first is to avoid double taxation, and the second is to prevent fiscal evasion. Once this bill is implemented, it will provide relief from taxation rules set out in the Income Tax Act. It cannot be implemented until the bill is passed. We on this side of the House plan to support the bill.
Since we are talking about international relations, I want to talk about a speech that the Leader of the Official Opposition gave to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, or MCFR. He gave his excellent speech to a full house on May 7 in Montreal.
The Leader of the Official Opposition spoke about this country's foreign affairs, which is why I am making a link to the bill we are debating today. Maintaining healthy relations with other countries based on respect and rules is what enables us to continue to prosper and find our place in an ever-changing, fast-moving world.
Before I talk about the opposition leader's vision for foreign affairs, I want to talk about the government's track record in that regard. Shortly after the 2015 election, the Prime Minister said that Canada was back. He took credit for the good reputation that Canada had built over the years under all of the previous governments. Unfortunately, in 2019, it seems that Canada has gone nowhere. Here is what the opposition leader had to say, and I quote:
The profound arrogance of [the Prime Minister]'s words foreshadowed how the new Prime Minister would conduct Canada’s foreign affairs: with style over substance.
It is public knowledge that the government has made many serious mistakes, and they are almost always attributable to the Prime Minister's poor judgment. Let us not forget the trans-Pacific partnership. He was a complete no-show for a very important meeting. Observers said at the time that the Japanese were seething about what they perceived as a last-minute betrayal by the Prime Minister of Canada.
We all know the details of his trip to India. Certain images come to mind every time someone mentions it. As the Leader of the Opposition said before the MCFR, what is perhaps less known is how seriously that trip hurt Canadians. Bilateral trade with India totals about $9 billion annually. The Prime Minister's trip to India seriously set us back in terms of helping Canadians benefit from increased trade.
We need to look at what is behind the image and the photo ops, at the impact of these actions. As former Liberal minister Ujjal Dosanjh stated, it is disappointing that the Canada-India relationship could have gone to the next level, but we have bungled it.
More recently, we have witnessed the government's defeatist attitude toward China. A wait-and-see approach has now become the norm. China has taken totally unjustified trade actions directed against Canadian farmers, canola farmers, the pork industry, and livestock genetics companies. Unfortunately, the crisis only seems to grow worse every day.
The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has just returned from a G20 ministerial meeting in Japan, where she had an opportunity to talk to her Chinese counterpart and clearly state Canada’s position on the canola crisis, which is preventing Canada from exporting canola seed to China. However, this meeting on the importance of market access rules-based trade for Canadian agri-food products and opportunities was inconclusive.
According to the news release issued by the minister, she had an introductory conversation with the Chinese minister of agriculture on the margins of the G20 meeting and expressed Canada’s deep concern with the suspension of Canadian exports. The Minister of Agriculture has been asking China to allow her send a technical delegation to verify the Chinese government's allegations about the quality of Canadian canola for a month now, but she is satisfied with an introductory conversation with the Chinese minister of agriculture.
Unfortunately, the department’s news release makes no mention of the Chinese minister’s response. We do not know what he said, and unfortunately, we do not expect a technical delegation to be sent to China, since the minister surely did not want to displease her Chinese counterpart, while China is causing billions of dollars in damage to the Canadian economy.
That is not all. Today, Grain Growers of Canada called on the federal government to provide meaningful support to the Canadian agriculture industry. They want it to develop a strategy to address an increasingly unpredictable trade environment that is affecting the incomes of grain farmers. The strategy should recognize that China’s blocking of Canadian canola is politically motivated, which was acknowledged last week by the Prime Minister. However, government politicians are hesitant. The ministers refuse to stand up to China, and we are seeing the consequences. We are caught in the middle of the trade war between the United States and China. That has serious repercussions for all grain farmers in Canada.
The GGC press release also reveals that, in addition to the suspension of canola imports from Canada, soybean prices are dropping and imports to China have slowed to a trickle, reaching levels not seen in a decade. Industry and government officials have confirmed that Chinese importers are reluctant to sign contracts for other Canadian agricultural products given the uncertainty in the market.
Grain Growers of Canada chair Jeff Nielsen says the time has come for the Canadian government to aggressively defend the interests of Canada's agricultural sector in China and around the world. GGC vice chair Markus Haerle of St. Isidore, Ontario, says that the issues we are seeing with trade into China can no longer be said to be commodity-specific. As a soybean farmer, he has seen his prices plummet and markets close due to the flooding of the market by U.S. product.
The press release concludes by saying that, in addition to Chinese disruption, the loss of the Indian pulse market and the Italian durum market has added to the long list of risks that farmers are expected to manage. That is what we have been saying for months. For at least two months now, we have been telling the House that the Government of Canada has to stand up to China because it did not stand up to Italy, it did not stand up to India when that country imposed tariffs, and it did not stand up to Vietnam. The Liberal government's inaction and wait-and-see approach are causing billions of dollars' worth of damage to the Canadian economy.
When we are talking about billions of dollars in damage to the Canadian economy, we have to spare a thought for every farmer in every province of Canada. Each of them has suffered losses on the order of $10,000, $20,000, $50,000 or $100,000 since the beginning of the year because they cannot sell their product.
We asked for three things. First, we asked for changes to the advance payments program. The Leader of the Opposition had to pressure the government into tabling a plan to help canola farmers. Second, we asked for a complaint to be filed with the World Trade Organization. There has been radio silence on that from the Liberal government. Lastly, we asked the government to appoint an ambassador to China. It seems obvious to me that if we want to resolve a crisis—