Feds offer help on canola file

MONTREAL — Canadian canola growers have federal heavyweights working on their behalf in the current situation with China, say two Liberal cabinet ministers.

“We are working very hard on that,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland from the stage at the first Canadian Crops Convention March 6, which brings together the Canola Council of Canada and the Canada Grains Council.

“I’ve spoken to some of our top CEOs of the commodities companies and we’re going to be working closely together.”

On March 5, news broke that China had cancelled Richardson International’s licence to export canola to China.

Embassy staff in China are working on the issue, Freeland said.

New federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau made her first public appearance in her new role at the convention, and she said the China issue was being addressed by agriculture department staff, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and others.

“We’re having a conversation with the Chinese officials on a really science-based discussion and approach,” said Bibeau.

“They are telling us that they have found some kind of irregularity in a recent shipment, so we returned to our samples (taken from the same shipment). Our analysis, we don’t see anything, so we are really having the conversation for them to demonstrate what they have found.”

Freeland was similarly cautious and did not accuse the Chinese of creating a bogus quality issue to disguise an attack on Canada in retribution for its arrest of a Huawei executive on a American warrant. Many others have made that connection.

“It’s really important for us to gather as much information as we can before drawing conclusions, and we just have to be united as a country and really work through this,” said Freeland.

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