Justin Trudeau is spending seven days in India with his family this week, with little of that time dedicated to any official meetings or resolving trade irritants between Canada and India.
In stark contrast to the arrival of other world leaders to India who have been greeted by President Modi, Justin Trudeau was met by the Junior Minister of Agriculture, Gajendra Singh Shekhawa. Making this even more ironic is the fact Canada’s Minister of Agriculture was not even part of the large Liberal delegation travelling to India, despite their continued failure to resolve the pulse fumigation issue which has drastically cost our pulse industry.
In fact, on the Prime Minister’s press release outlining the Liberal priorities for his trip to India addressing the tariff and fumigation costs and their impact on Canadian pulse producers was not even listed.
Once again the Liberals, including their Minister of Agriculture, are on the sidelines leaving the work of defending farmers to others.
The Official Opposition Conservatives are proud to be the voice of Canada’s farmers and we will push for a resolution to what has become a significant problem for pulse producers.
A duty of 30 per cent was applied to chickpeas and lentils just before Christmas and was raised to 40 per cent in early February. This is in addition to a 50 per cent import duty applied to yellow peas in November. Canadian markets have felt significant impacts since India introduced these tariffs as they are one of the biggest export markets for Canada’s pulse crops.
The Liberals continue to put Canada’s $4 billion pulse industry in jeopardy by not working to secure vital trade markets for our Canadian producers. Alongside the Agriculture Minister’s indifference to working with India, this causes unnecessary uncertainty to the entire supply chain.
The previous Conservative Government grew pulse exports to $4.2 billion, with $1.5 billion of that going to India. Under the Liberals, Canadian pulse exports have dropped significantly to $3.4 billion, with only $9 million attributed to India. That accounts for over a $587 million loss in exports to India under Justin Trudeau’s administration, amounting to 75 per cent of total export losses since 2015. This is devastating to our farmers.
Give credit to Alberta’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister who traveled to India earlier this month because he recognized the importance of this market for Canadian Agriculture. Although tariff and fumigation issues both fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government, Alberta’s minister believed heading to India was a step in the right direction to stand up for Alberta’s pulse and pea farmers.
We need strong voices speaking up for Canada’s pulse producers because the federal Liberals have been silent.
While Trudeau dines on pulses during his “more family vacation than business trip” in India, paid for by the Canadian taxpayers, may he be wholly reminded of the Canadian pulse farmers who have been shut out of the India market due to his government’s inaction.
The Liberals need to stop sitting on the sidelines, get in the game and secure a resolution to the punitive duties imposed on Canadian pulse exports.