The Liberals stopped an Opposition motion to have federal agencies buy only made-in-Canada products — because they didn’t want to offend the Chinese,” says Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Liberals claimed any federal boycott of China-made pandemic masks might breach trade treaties.
“Focus on what the issue is,” said Conservative MP Ben Lobb (Huron-Bruce, Ont.).
“Get rid of the Chinese masks, OK?”
The Commons distributed boxes of COVID-19 masks made by the JinJiang Jujia Environmental Technology Company Ltd. of Guangzhou.
Opposition MPs sponsored a motion stating “… the committee deplores the fact masks distributed on Parliament Hill and various federal departments and agencies come from abroad and not local businesses, and that the House administration and federal government take steps to ensure as of January 31 the masks distributed on Parliament Hill and in various federal departments and agencies come from Canadian companies that produce this type of personal protective equipment.”
“We need to set an example for the Canadian economy,” said Bloc Québécois MP Julie Vignola (Beauport-Limoilou, Que.), sponsor of the motion.
“We are using foreign masks that are not made here at home.”
Liberal MPs opposed a vote on the motion.
MP Irek Kusmierczyk (Windsor-Tecumseh, Ont.) told the committee further study was needed.
“No fact has been established by this committee,” said Kusmierczyk.
“There has not been a single moment of any testimony by witnesses to establish this as fact.”
“It says ‘Made in China’ on the box,” replied Vignola.
“I don’t know how many witnesses we would need.”
Liberal MP Majid Jowhari (Richmond Hill, Ont.) said it was unclear Parliament could boycott Chinese goods.
“I don’t know what the impact on the World Trade Organization is going to be,” said Jowhari.
“Are we doing something that we are going to go against some of the free trade agreements we have signed? Are we going to be in a position we may have some sort of litigation?”
Liberal MP Anthony Housefather (Mount Royal, Que.) said reference to the committee ‘deploring’ the use of Chinese imports was troublesome.
“The word ‘deplores’ I think is far too strong,” said Housefather.
“I would propose to change the word ‘the committee deplores’ to ‘the committee is concerned.’ It basically changes the word ‘deplores’ to ‘is concerned.’”
New Democrat MP Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni, B.C.) said use of Chinese goods at Canadians’ expense was deplorable.
“If we can’t do it here we are in deep trouble,” said Johns.
“I’ll give you an example in my riding,” said Johns.
“We had a local distillery that stepped up to the plate, Wayward Distillery in Courtenay. They started making personal protective equipment, they started making hand sanitizer. They donated $75,000 worth. They started getting contracts to develop it. They couldn’t keep up with demand. They brought in ethanol and product from overseas to meet the weeks ahead to supply it, and then Canada actually flooded the market with Chinese sanitizer. Now they’re sitting on all this ethanol.”
“They put everything into it to help Canada, to help Canadian companies, to help front line service workers, to help Canadians out, and I think that’s deplorable This is a former veteran who owns this company and he is being let down by his own country. I’m sharing this story because I think that’s deplorable.”
Wayward Distillery, a vodka and gin distiller, said federal purchasing of Chinese sanitizer left it with a stockpile of 300,000 litres of ethanol.
The company’s CEO questioned the contracting.
“I believe in my country, I believe in my government,” said Master Cpl. (ret’d) Dave Brimacombe, founder of the distillery.
“I worked in procurement. But in the election that just passed they had Chinese hand sanitizer at all the polling stations in the riding.”
Members of the government operations committee adjourned debate on the motion without a vote.
“This is starting to become preposterous,” said Conservative MP Kelly McCauley (Edmonton West).
“Liberals should get on board, support Canadians, stop this endless filibustering over a very reasonable request from the Bloc that masks for Parliament and government workers should be made in Canada,” said McCauley.
The MP noted cabinet signed multi-million dollar contracts for Canadian-made pandemic supplies that were not distributed in the federal sector.
Cabinet in 2020 awarded AMD Medicom Inc. of Montréal a $381,693,476 contract to supply masks from a local plant, and gave the 3M Company a $23.3 million grant and $111,587,500 contract to supply pandemic masks from its Brockville, Ont. factory.
“We’ve spent hundreds of millions sole-sourcing contracts,” said McCauley.
Canadian masks “are in the government system somewhere,” he added. “Surely these ones should be used in the House and government departments rather than Chinese-made ones.”