These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Ministers go to Washington

Mr. 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 want.

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 border open?

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 telling--

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Oak Ridges.