|These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard
Ministers go to Washington
Rick Casson (Lethbridge, CPC): Mr. Speaker, since the much hailed
visit of the Prime Minister and the agriculture minister to Washington,
the situation in the cattle industry has become worse. Beef products that
were flowing before that meeting with the president have since stopped and
will remain stopped until the USDA rule change is implemented.
This step backward and the fact the border remains closed to live cattle
clearly indicate the lack of influence the government has when dealing
with this file, this crisis. I ask the minister this: What is the next
step backward the beef industry can expect from his government?
Hon. Bob Speller (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): In
fact, Mr. Speaker, we are moving forward on this issue. As the hon. member
said, the Prime Minister had a direct talk with the President. We were
very pleased with the response of the President of the United States, who
said very clearly that he wants these borders open and he wants them open
now. He also said very clearly that he wants his decision, or the decision
of his government, to be based on science, and that is exactly what we
Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the facts are that
due to a lack of direction from this Prime Minister, the beef industry is
struggling to deal with wildly changing markets, and also, Canadians
working to stay viable are competing for Canadian feeder cattle, not only
against other Canadians but also against U.S. producers who are flush with
cash. They are in Canada buying our cattle.
Now this government is pitting one sector of the industry against another
at a critical time in the process. How does this government expect the
latest strategy of confrontation with the packing industry to help get the
Hon. Bob Speller (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I am not sure what the hon. member is talking about. In fact, it
is colleagues on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food who
have asked the industry for some information, on which they are meeting
this afternoon. This is not the position of the Government of Canada. This
is the position of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
The hon. member may want to put that question to them.
The Government of Canada has worked very closely with all aspects of the
industry, including the cattlemen, including the packers, and including
the provinces, to make sure we have a unified voice on that. That voice is
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Oak Ridges.