Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he raised the P.E.I. potato export suspension with U.S. President Joe Biden during his trip to Washington last week.
The prime minister said during question period Wednesday that the Canadian government is working closely with the U.S. to resume the fresh potato trade after John Barlow, Conservative MP for Foothills and shadow agriculture minister, asked whether Trudeau would reverse the suspension.
“In the matter of potatoes, we are obviously extremely concerned. I brought it up directly with the president last week when I was in Washington,” Trudeau said.
“We’ve been working closely with Islanders and indeed with the Americans to make sure the Americans understand that there’s no scientific basis for the ban of table potatoes. We’re going to continue to stand up for Prince Edward Islanders, look for a solution to this based on science.”
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced the suspension on Monday, a few days after Trudeau’s U.S. visit. The CFIA based its decision on the discovery of potato wart in two Island fields in October.
Shortly after the announcement, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said the province will be considering all options at its disposal to fight the decision, saying that it was not at all based in science.
Barlow pressed Trudeau on the matter, and blasted P.E.I.’s MPs, all Liberal, for not speaking out against the suspension.
“Obviously, Mr Speaker, the prime minister has no idea what I was talking about. But maybe he should ask his members of parliament from Prince Edward Island who haven’t said a single word about this decision,” Barlow said.
“With the stroke of a pen, Mr. Speaker, the prime minister has devastated Prince Edward Island’s potato industry.”
Trudeau reiterated comments made by Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau earlier in the week that the suspension was imposed to prevent the Americans from imposing their own ban, which he said would be much more difficult to reverse.