These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Positive Border Will Open

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the agriculture minister were in Washington last week for the latest photo op. We heard great promises, but have seen zero action.

The USDA has now joined with a few producers in the U.S. to further restrict the flow of Canadian beef. All we get from the government is one step forward and two steps back.

What action has the Prime Minister taken to counter this latest move by the U.S. to stop our beef from flowing?

Hon. Mark Eyking (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Agri-Food), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for bringing forth the question about the beef issue.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food are very much in favour of working hard to open up the border. They had good meetings last week in Washington. The President of the United States reassured us that he wanted the border open. Secretary Veneman wants to use the science based information.

We are very positive that the border will be open.

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the only science that the government understands is the science of BS. We need some proof on BSE and some action on that.

This concession by the USDA has thrown the cattle industry into further turmoil. Cattle are getting harder and harder to market. The market is dysfunctional. The border has been closed for 350 agonizing days. It has been a month since the USDA comment period closed, yet we see no action.

Nothing has been coming forth from the government. The government is losing this battle on the border front and it is losing the cattle industry in this country. The only answer is an open border. Why is that border not open?

Hon. Mark Eyking (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Agri-Food), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the only BS in this House is across the floor.

The government has given $1 billion to Canadian farmers to help them fight this. Not only that, we had high level meetings with the U.S. to open the borders. That is the way it is.

Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the crisis among our beef farmers will not begin to be over until the farm incomes return to normal. Some U.S. stock growers do not want our border re-opened.

Why has the Liberal government not protected Canadian beef producers from this latest action by the U.S. department of agriculture to halt expanded beef product exports?

Hon. Mark Eyking (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Agri-Food), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Montana judge's ruling was very disappointing to us. However, we were reassured last week by higher levels in the U.S. government, the President and Secretary Veneman, that they will open up the borders for us in the near future.

Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our producers have been waiting 350 days for the border to re-open. How long will it be before Renfrew county beef producers and all Canadian beef producers can move their beef across the border?

Hon. Mark Eyking (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Agri-Food), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows we cannot have a definite date when the border will be open. All we can do is keep working on opening up the border and keep bringing financial help to the farming families in this country that are in need.