These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Calls for Equal Health Standards

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and the U.S. beef association are both calling for the harmonization of health standards in cattle. Industry on both sides of the border is in agreement. Harmonized health standards are essential to an open border and normal trade.

Why will the government not listen to industry, accept the science, remove the barriers and get the border open?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member fails to recognize the fact that before these types of things have to happen we need to have all the scientific risk assessments taken.

I understand, and I have heard him very clearly, that the industry wants it open, and there is no question that we want our borders open as much as we possibly can. But we have to recognize, for the health of the whole cattle industry in Canada and for the health and concerns of humans in Canada, that all of the disease and the risks that go around that have to be taken into account.

That we will do. When that risk assessment is completed, then we will act upon that risk assessment.

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the risk assessments have been done over and over again. The industry says the risk is manageable. It is willing to take the risk. It is this minister who is standing in the way of that open border.

The government has a clear choice to make. It can do the right thing, and remove the barriers, harmonize the health in cattle and get the border open, or it could keep the border closed and be the grim reaper when it comes to the cattle industry in Canada.

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the risk assessment has been done and is being redone as we speak. The risk assessment results to date have indicated clearly that to this date the border should not be open, but in that stage, even with that, some pilot projects were done this year so that risk assessment continues. I remind the hon. member again that all risk assessments by the scientists, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada to date have indicated that the border should remain closed.