COLUMN: Considering Canada’s relationship with China

It is no secret that Canada’s relations with China have deteriorated considerably in recent years

With the House sitting, there are more events to share than can be summarized in my weekly report.

However, there is one event in particular that I believe is deserving of mention despite not being as high profile as other recent events such as the Throne Speech.

Tuesday of this week was the first “Opposition Day” in the House of Commons.

This is the day where an opposition party, in this case the Official Opposition Conservative Party, sets the agenda in the House of Commons with a motion of its own.

Our motion was summarized as follows:

“That, in light of the prolonged diplomatic crisis with China, the House appoint a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship including, but not limited to consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations.”

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It is no secret that Canada’s relations with China have deteriorated considerably in recent years.

Two Canadians are currently being held unjustly in Chinese custody.

Canadian Canola farmers have lost 40 per cent of their export market due to unfair Chinese trade restrictions.

Locally in Summerland, a senior care home that is now owned by the Chinese government has created serious concerns for the residents of this facility and their families with little accountability.

We must also recognize that there are opportunities for having a more constructive relationship with China.

Cleaner burning B.C. LNG can be used instead of coal in Chinese power plants to lower global emissions.

Locally grown Okanagan cherries exported into China create a very lucrative market.

Tourism is another opportunity.

What’s most important about this particular opposition day motion is that it was opposed by the Liberal government.

This is not unlike what occurred in the last Parliament, where the Liberals blocked a proposed committee investigation into claims of inappropriate pressure by Canadian officials on former Canadian diplomats who had been posted in China and were speaking as private citizens.

A pattern Canadians also witnessed with parliamentary committee attempts to further examine the SNC Lavalin affair where the Liberals would use their majority to block and ultimately shut down those efforts.

It was widely observed that unelected powerful people working in the Prime Minister’s Office were calling the shots and had a significant role in stonewalling attempts to provide transparency and accountability to Canadians.

That changed this week.

Despite the Liberals opposing the opposition day motion, the three major opposition parties all supported it.

This was a true victory for Canadian democracy with this minority Parliament.

Now it will be democratically elected Parliamentarians having a significant role in how we can examine our relations with China.

Unelected Liberal Prime Ministerial political appointees can no longer look the other way and ignore this most serious situation.

My question this week: Do you support the creation of this all party committee to review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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