These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Backlog of Livestock

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the BSE border closure has caused a backlog of livestock across the country, and the need for more slaughter capacity is a must. New start-ups have been trying to access Farm Credit Canada's venture investment fund to start their operations. Many producers are skeptical as to whether the government's new loan loss reserve will entice lenders to invest in slaughter plants.

If the government's loan loss program does not work to expand plants or induce new start-ups, will the government commit to direct financing of new and expanding plants in every region of the country to deal with our backlog of livestock?

Hon. Wayne Easter (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Rural Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is certainly getting into hypotheticals and taking the negative approach, like the Conservatives often do.

The minister made a very important announcement on September 10 in which we would maintain trying to get the U.S. border open. We would look at getting new borders open. The minister made an announcement from China the other day in which it would take bull semen, as well as cattle embryos. There will be an announcement coming out of Japan in terms of the slaughter capacity. We have the set aside program, and we are working strenuously to get that slaughter capacity increased.

Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister met with U.S. homeland security chief Tom Ridge. The Liberals have said that they will use all meetings with U.S. counterparts to discuss getting the border reopened for Canadian beef. I quote the finance minister, “We don' t want any bilateral conversation to go by without BSE”.

Did the Deputy Prime Minister discuss the border closure with Secretary Ridge yesterday?

Hon. Anne McLellan (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member was listening to the press conference that Secretary Ridge and I held yesterday, in response to a question from the media, Secretary Ridge indicated that I had discussed this matter with him. I will continue to discuss the matter with him as I know all our colleagues do when they meet their American counterparts.