These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

20% Duty on Wheat Exports

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, today we hear that the United States is imposing a 20% duty on all Canadian wheat exports to the U.S.

Western Canadian grain farmers are shaking their heads in disgust while the U.S. slams our grain industry with multiple trade actions and the government stands idly by.

The catalyst for these trade challenges has been the Canadian Wheat Board, but now all Canadian grain producers will be penalized.

Will the minister make the Canadian Wheat Board voluntary as so many producers want, or is he prepared to punish all Canadian producers for an outdated compulsory monopoly marketing system?

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the allegations involved in the pending American action are not new allegations. They have been in the public arena for 10 to 15 years.

The Americans have pursued these actions on at least 10 previous occasions. Every time they have been pursued, those same kinds of fruitless statements have been made by the opposition. At the end of the day Canadian farmers have won 10 out of 10. The Government of Canada has stood with them every inch of the way. We will continue to do so.

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, that is rubbish. The minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board has assured farmers for the past year that this U.S. trade challenge has no substance. The Canadian Wheat Board has assured producers for the last year that the U.S. trade challenge has no substance to it.

Now we find that the United States department of commerce will levy duties of up to 20% on all Canadian wheat sales into the United States.

Is the minister so incompetent that he failed to take the United States seriously, or has he been deliberately misleading Canadian producers?

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has consistently stood by farmers in arguments of these kinds.

It is significant that the government defends the rights of farmers to make their own marketing decisions in Canada by Canadians.

The opposition by contrast sent a delegation some years ago to Washington, stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, joined arms with Newt Gingrich and sided with the United States.

Mr. Rick Borotsik (Brandon—Souris, PC): Mr. Speaker, that is a pathetic response.

Alarm bells are ringing. Mandatory U.S. country of origin labelling regulations will take place September 2004. Not unlike the Minister of Health who sat on the SARS file long enough to destroy the Toronto economy, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is content to sit back and see the pork and beef industry in this country destroyed.

Why is the minister waiting for someone else to do his job? Does he believe American stakeholders will ride to his rescue? Or does he even care? Maybe he should ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage for help.

[Translation]

Mr. Claude Duplain (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, discussions are currently being held; I do not understand the question by the hon. member opposite. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is not waiting for someone else to do his job. Discussions on labelling with regard to this situation are currently being held with the United States.