These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

All Party Delegation

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, the government has picked up where it left off in the spring, mired in scandal, infighting and under investigation by the RCMP. What is really scandalous is the way it has handled some of the big crises in the country, whether it be softwood lumber, SARS or BSE.

In July I wrote to the Prime Minister and I invited him to lead an all party delegation to Washington to personally intervene on behalf of farmers and those stakeholders affected by the BSE crisis.

Will the Prime Minister commit to personally intervening in this file on behalf of all farmers and Canadians being affected by the ban on Canadian beef?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have done it. I have talked with the President and with other officials of the administration. The Minister of Agriculture did such a good job on this file that even the provincial government of a different colour, the Conservative Premier of Alberta, has congratulated the Minister of Agriculture because he has done a very good job on behalf of farmers of Canada.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is obviously not enough because there are still hundreds of thousands of Canadians being affected by the partial ban on Canadian beef.

I ask the Prime Minister again. Will he personally involve himself in this file? Will he endorse or lead an all party delegation to Washington with stakeholders to make those face to face representations to the Americans to help lift that ban on beef, or will he stay in 24 Sussex and just wait out his time?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member did a bit of reading, he would understand that there has been only one country that has had cases of mad cow that has managed to sell into the American market. Take the British for example. They have not been able after a year to sell one pound of beef to the American market. We have managed to reopen the market within weeks.

Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the mad cow crisis continues to threaten the livelihood of tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and packing house workers throughout Canada. The federal response has been half-hearted at best. The BSE recovery program ended last month but the hurt and devastation remain, especially for the smaller operator. Cattle on pasture when the borders first closed are returning to barns and feedlots, with higher maintenance costs.

Would the Prime Minister please inform the beef industry what his government is going to do and when, before we witness the utter devastation of the Canadian beef industry?

[Translation]

Mr. Claude Duplain (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to mention here that the minister and his team did an extraordinary job. This is the first time anywhere that, 100 days after the disease was detected, the borders have reopened so that meat can be sold.

To date, the measures taken in the first phase total $460 million. The second phase is estimated at $57 million. The situation continues to be evaluated in order to help farmers. This is proof that the government is addressing this issue.

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, since May of this year the Canadian livestock industry has been reeling from the impact of a single BSE infected cow. All the stakeholders in the provinces agree there was and continues to be a lack of leadership at the federal level.

When will the agriculture minister abandon his heavy-handed attempt to force his APF strategy on the provinces and concentrate on resolving the BSE crisis?

[Translation]

Mr. Claude Duplain (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate what the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food achieved by working hard with his colleagues.

This is the first time we have managed to reopen a border to trade. Several millions of dollars have been invested in trying to rebuild the industry.

Consultations will continue to try to find ways in which to assist the farmers even more. I do not think that consultations are useless at this time.

[English]

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): There you have it, Mr. Speaker, some more of that BS package that they were spouting all summer.

The minister knows his April fool's joke contains no provisions that will address a crisis like the BSE outbreak. Farmers and ranchers reject the APF as again too bureaucratic and off target. Using their own calculations, farmers will receive even less support from the Liberal government than they have in the past.

Why will the minister not sit down with the producers and provinces and actually work at resolving this crisis before he cripples another industry?

[Translation]

Mr. Claude Duplain (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is totally untrue. The new strategic plan will provide farmers with tools to receive all the support necessary. As the provinces sign the framework agreement and we sign bilateral agreements, farmers will be able to benefit from them.