I am honoured to serve as the Conservative Critic for Canada-U.S. Relations
It was an honour for me to be appointed as the Conservative Critic for Canada-U.S. Relations last week and it is a role that I have enthusiastically entered into. My work as critic will largely focus on economic issues pertaining to trade and energy – both of which have immediate implications for our own economy here at home in Saskatchewan.
Canada’s relationship with the United States deserves particular attention. Over $1 billion dollars a day in trade crosses our shared border and over 70 percent of Canadian exports in total end up in America. One in five Canadian jobs is dependent on trade and the majority of these may be affected by trade irritants between Canada and the United States. It will be my job to hold the government to account when these arise.
Take for instance the surprise tax that the Liberal government placed on American drywall imports into Western Canada. My colleagues and I kept hearing from Western Canadian contractors, drywallers and other small construction businesses that this tax would ultimately affect their bottom lines and lead to jobs losses. With no jobs to spare in Western Canada and with the rebuilding of Fort McMurray underway, this has become a serious issue for families in Alberta, Saskatchewan and in the rest of the West. I and my colleagues have called upon the Liberal government to take action to ensure that more of our jobs are not lost as a result of its decision to tax American drywall into Western Canada.
Then there’s the issue of negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement. The forestry sector employs almost 400,000 people across the country and two thirds of all of our softwood lumber exports go to America. Yet the protection of this vital industry did not even warrant a mention in the Minister of International Trade’s mandate letter from Justin Trudeau. This oversight is inexcusable; and even though the Prime Minister stood at the White House in February and promised Canadians a new deal by the middle of June, that deadline passed with nothing but flimsy excuses offered by his Trade Minister. Conservatives recognize the importance of getting a new softwood lumber agreement in place before the October 13th deadline because the last dispute cost our industry over $5 billion. That is why we forced an emergency trade committee meeting over the summer to hear from government and industry officials. Surprisingly, one of the Liberal members of the committee stated on the record that the meeting was a waste of time. In my role as critic, I will continue to fight to hold the government to account for their gross mismanagement of the softwood lumber file and their failure to secure a deal for our forestry workers and their families.
While these are two big issues that I am seized with at the moment, the work by no means stops there. Whether it is fighting to ensure that Canada does not lose our preferential access to the U.S. market because the Liberal government fails to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or researching how Liberal policy such as the legalization of marijuana may affect our citizens’ ability to enter into the United States, I am looking forward to working hard for the people of Saskatchewan and indeed all Canadians in this capacity.