WINNIPEG—Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says Canada has to work closely with its allies to counterbalance China’s actions while recognizing that could mean risks to Canadian exports.
O’Toole spoke Monday to Winnipeg’s business community at a virtual event held by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
The Opposition leader was asked about his stance on Canada’s relationship with China and his message to workers in the agriculture industry who depend on trade with that nation.
O’Toole said Canada needs to diversify into new markets, like the Indo-Pacific, because it’s likely to run into more issues with China in the years ahead.
He repeated that Canada’s values are not for sale and it won’t ignore the treatment of Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province to maintain export access.
O’Toole also pointed to China’s recent sanctioning of members of Parliament who are looking into human rights issues, including Conservative MP Michael Chong.
“We have to, as a sort of Five Eyes Alliance, counterbalance some of the bad conduct by the Communist party of China and recognize that there could be some disruption to export to that country,” O’Toole said.
“We are prepared to weather that storm to do the right thing.”
O’Toole outlined his party’s recovery plan and said that, unlike Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he doesn’t want to “reimagine” the economy.
“What if your job is in resources or agriculture or in one of the sectors that (Trudeau) doesn’t want to build back better?” he said.
“How is that recovery going to hold your family and your community back? Is it going to lead to even more alienation in the West—more division, more uncertainty, more inequality?”