These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Industry on Verge of Collapse

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the government cannot even implement a questionnaire at Toronto's airport three months after the crisis started.

We have a huge beef industry that is on the verge of collapse if we do not get some cooperation from the Americans. Again, the Prime Minister has not helped. He spoke to the President and could not even remember if he had raised the subject with him.

While he is over in Europe has he yet had a chance to discuss this issue with the President? Can the government report to the House on whether there is any possibility of the U.S. administration lifting its ban on Canadian beef?

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is strange advice coming from a member who goes on Fox TV to embarrass Canada and has referred to Canada publicly as a second rate country.

The party's former leader did the infamous chicken little tour of the world in which he warned that the Canadian economy was in collapse. This is the party that consistently underrates Canada and its ability to surmount difficulties, and consistently downgrades Canada when it should be bragging about its successes.

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I think the word is farce, not force.

The Minister of Agriculture announced today that he anticipates the American border will remain closed to beef exports for at least another week. The original cow has been slaughtered, the renderings have been trapped and removed from the system, the original birthplace herd has been depopulated and is being tested, cows from the trace out have been destroyed and feed mills have been cleared.

What else must occur before the U.S. will be satisfied that the disease has been contained and eradicated?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the only comment I have made about opening the U.S. border is that I hope it opens soon. I have not said when that soon will be because all of the science is not proven.

The Premier of Alberta said this morning that lobbying is not what it takes, it takes science. The science is not yet completed. The trace outs are happening and the tests are taking place. The DNA samples in some situations are not back yet because they take some days to do. That work will continue. The only way we will be able to demonstrate that this is an isolated incident is by completing the science, and that is what we will do.

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, last week the cattle industry was losing $11 million per day. This week it is losing $30 million per day. After next week, losses will be catastrophic, feedlots will be completely plugged and cow-calf operators will be running out of operating money.

Has the government established a target date for having the border reopened and if not, what contingency plan does the minister have in place to deal with such a catastrophe?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I answered the hon. member's question about opening the border. We want to open the U.S. border and other borders as quickly as we possibly can. It will take science to do that.

He should appreciate the fact that Canada has the best system in the world to do the tracking and tracing and conducting that science. The best compensation is opening the border and that is where we are concentrating our efforts.

Ms. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the current mad cow disease episode has many repercussions. It has caused problems not only for cattle farmers and slaughterhouses, but also for laboratories that specialize in bovine semen and embryos, which are now banned by several countries. The news was confirmed by the Canadian embassy in Beijing and by the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association.

How could the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell us in committee that there was no ban when there has been one since May 21 that represents $20 million—

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I believe in the committee I asked the hon. member to give me the specifics on that. She may have sent that to my office. However I can say that if there is a country blocking embryos and semen because of BSE it is against the Office International des Epizooties. If she would bring the specific case to my attention we will address it.