These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

525 Days and Counting

Ms. Belinda Stronach (Newmarket—Aurora, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of International Trade.

Last weekend the governments of the United States and Japan proudly announced the deal to restart trade in beef and set aside BSE concerns. That deal was sealed in just three days.

It has been 525 days since our border was slammed shut. A Japanese day of negotiation is therefore worth 175 Canadian days. This does not seem right.

Canadian cattlemen and farmers would like to know what the Japanese and Americans did to open their border, which the Canadian government has failed to do.

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the preamble of the hon. member's question is clearly inaccurate.

When I was in Japan two weeks ago, we received a very firm commitment from the Japanese government that it treated us, Canada and the United States, as an integrated North American beef marketplace.

Those arrangements that were being put in place for the United States would also be put in place for Canada in the same timeframe. What has taken place is good news for Canadian cattle producers.

Ms. Belinda Stronach (Newmarket—Aurora, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it gets worse. Just hours ago Taiwan also announced it would open its border to U.S. beef.

The BSE crisis has now reached a level of desperation in Canada. Since the minister is unable to negotiate the opening of our border, is the minister prepared to proceed with the chapter 20 claim under NAFTA to get the border open once again to Canadian beef?

Hon. Jim Peterson (Minister of International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let me start by complimenting, which is something I rarely do, the Leader of the Opposition for the outstanding critic he has appointed for international trade. She brings to this portfolio a wealth of international business experience. I am very pleased that at long last the opposition will be devoting to international trade and investment the attention that it deserves.

I must say I look forward to working with the member for Newmarket—Aurora to promote Canadian interests around the world.