These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

From Bad to Worse

Ms. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are getting bogged down in the mad cow issue and leaving the dairy farmers to fend for themselves.

Today they must resort to radical actions in order to get the attention of the contemptuous Liberal government.

Why is the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food letting the situation go from bad to worse and taking no action on the crisis?


Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, quite to the contrary, as I said in answer to the many questions that the Bloc has directed at us in the last couple of days, we have provided some $366 million to Quebec producers under business risk management and additional money in terms of BSE.

As I have said on many occasions, there is a specific issue with dairy cull cows. We are dealing with that issue. There is a range of options on how that could be done. Part of it could be through the pricing that is about to be announced in respect of milk. Others have mentioned a minimum price. There are other initiatives we may want to undertake. We are in discussions at this moment, figuring out the best way to do it.


Ms. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, day after day, the minister repeats the same refrain. The dairy producers of Quebec have had enough of being held hostage by a single slaughterhouse. They are forced to sell their animals at terrible prices to a virtual monopoly.

Is the minister dragging his feet in this file in order to protect the interests of the Colbex-Levinoff group, because they contributed $45,000 to Liberal coffers?


Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely ludicrous. I would suggest that they stop playing politics and start helping producers. The reality is that we put forward a $38 million program that will assist in building new slaughter capacity so that there can be a competitive environment that will allow there to be a reasonable marketplace in Quebec and elsewhere in this country.