These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

BSE Solved - Border Open

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday the parliamentary secretary indicated the BSE issue was solved and said the job is done, the border is open. That is absolutely absurd. We cannot run a multi-billion dollar industry through a two foot gate on a 3,500 mile fence. It just will not work.

We have asked for four months, and I am asking again, what conditions is the United States Department of Agriculture demanding of Canada before the border really opens?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member he should be thanking this government and thanking the United States for opening their border to the extent that they have. It is the first time in history that any non-BSE country has accepted beef products from a country that has BSE. They have opened it for boneless beef and they are expediting the process, as the secretary of agriculture in the United States said to the press yesterday, in order to move forward to allow the movement of live cattle under 30 months going direct to slaughter. Now they are expediting that process.

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, this summer I was in Washington with my leader fighting for the Canadian cattle industry and one issue was very clear. Until the Canadian border opens to year round access to U.S. feeder cattle, their border will remain closed to ours.

This has been a hang-up to the Canadian cattle industry for 10 years. We know this is the single issue that is keeping that border closed. Will the government listen to Canadian producers, reverse its position, get that border open and get it open now?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the single issue that has closed that border was unfortunately the fact that we had one single animal. It is a health issue and that is what we have to deal with. We are going by the guidelines of the Office International des Épizooties. They are following those guidelines. They have even moved past those to recognize the system that we have and the quality of beef we have in Canada. For that initial movement we are very thankful and we look forward to further opening of the border.

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. The minister has worked valiantly to help farmers affected by the BSE crisis, which now affects the entire country.

In my riding the export of live animals is of particular concern. Can the minister bring the House up to date on this? Has there been progress for the beef, sheep, goat and other farmers whose livelihoods have been hit by this crisis?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister and all of us are informed, we know that the opening of the border to meat as far as we have at the present time by Mexico and the United States is a precedent. It has never happened before in this type of situation to accept product from a BSE country.

I met again last week with the secretary of the United States and the secretary of Mexico. They both promised me that they would expedite the process in order to move live animals into their respective countries. I am confident that they will do that. When that happens that will apply to all ruminants at that time.