The #StandUpToChina campaign by Suits and Boots, an organization that describes itself as a grassroots partnership between the investment community and the resource sector, aims to “persuade China to lift its ban on Canadian canola, as well as peas, soybeans and pork.”
Suits and Boots founder Rick Peterson said the organization’s 3,700 members have mobilized by calling and emailing China’s ambassador to Canada, as well as four Chinese consuls general across the country.
The organization also plans to reach out to Canadian businesses, trade organizations, cultural and sporting groups and others doing business with China, asking them to join the cause.
“Our canola farmers are crushed, and need Canadians’ support“Rick Peterson
In March, China barred shipments of Canadian canola on the grounds they’re ridden with pests, but Canadian officials say they’ve received no evidence supporting that claim. The ban followed the RCMP’s December arrest in Vancouver of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou and the detentions of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China.
Peterson said Canada’s Prairie farmers “are being used as pawns in a diplomatic and trade-war chess game between the U.S. and China that has nothing to do with them.”
“There’s a bunch of moving elements and we wanted to highlight the canola part of it and try to simply have a voice that says ‘This has to stop’ and ‘Lay off of the canola,’” he said. “The timing of it couldn’t have been worse at this time of the year for a canola farmer. It’s an issue that we thought needed to be raised.”
Suits and Boots was founded in April 2018 in response to advocacy by anti-pipeline organizations. It took up the fight against federal Bill C-69 through a similar phone and email campaign that targeted Canadian senators.
“When your No. 1 market shuts down overnight, that’s a big kick in the gut.,” Peterson said of the canola ban.
“All we’re doing is allowing the average person across Canada to stand up and have a voice, the same way we did on Bill C-69.”
—With files from the Canadian Press