These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Avian Flu

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, CPC): Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the Fraser Valley the Canadian Food Inspection Agency rolled its equipment on to a local duck farm and killed 40,000 birds.

It killed them even though the flocks appeared healthy as all tests to date indicated they did not have the type of virus that is harmful to other poultry or to humans. It killed them in spite of the fact that if it had waited for 24 hours it would have had conclusive blood tests either way.

After three months of avian flu concerns in the valley, why does the CFIA not have a scientific, rules based protocol in place to deal with the specialty bird growers in the Fraser Valley?

Hon. Bob Speller (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in fact, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency does exactly that.

First, how we have worked in this situation is how we have worked in agriculture. We bring in the producers, the processors, and the provincial government. We work very closely with them to ensure that the actions we take are first and foremost in conformity with the best science that we know.

Second, we want to respect the farmers and their farming practices.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I wish that were true. The minister will remember the last time the agency dealt with specialty birds. It killed thousands of pigeons and squab in the valley. Then a week later it came back and told the farmers that it was a mistake, that it should not have killed them, and that it was not a problem in the Fraser Valley at all.

The other problem is on the compensation front. The minister sent out cheques to many of the farmers in the valley. That is appreciated even though it does not cover all the costs. The problem now is that farmers have letters saying that the agency wants that money clawed back.

Will the minister assure us that the money will not be clawed back and that farmers will receive full compensation for the full costs of the value of their flocks in the Fraser Valley?

Hon. Bob Speller (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Government of Canada is working very closely with the municipalities, the province, the producers and the processors to ensure that the approach we take is an approach that respects the right to farm and, in fact, respects the best science that we know.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working very hard. The CFIA has Canadians from all across Canada working for it who have come to the member's part of the country to help eradicate this disease. Our goal is to first and foremost eradicate this disease.