These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Possible Border Opening March 7

Ms. Belinda Stronach (Newmarket—Aurora, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the re-opening of the U.S. border to Canadian cattle is far from a sure thing. The U.S. secretary of agriculture said that he may change his mind one minute before midnight on March 6. The U.S. government is being sued by a group of its own cattlemen and powerful republican senators are trying to keep the border closed.

The Prime Minister has failed to provide honest leadership to Canadians and has flip-flopped on missile defence with the Americans. His indecision could jeopardize the re-opening of the border.

If the border remains shut on March 7, will the Prime Minister take responsibility for the hardship he is causing the Canadian beef industry?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is utter nonsense. The agricultural secretary of the United States has said that the basis upon which the border will be open is one that will be based on science. We have made it clear that the science indicates that the border should be open and in that respect, the USDA put forward a rule that would in fact allow for the export of live cattle under 30 months to the United States.

[Translation]

Ms. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, what kind of help can Canadian producers expect from a government with a schizophrenic attitude toward the United States? There is no guarantee that the border will be reopened to our cattle. Once again, the Prime Minister is showing his inability to make a decision and stick to it.

Is the Prime Minister deliberately deciding to sacrifice our farmers, or is his government merely incompetent?

[English]

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what Canadian producers can expect is record payments in support, $4.8 billion. What producers can expect is a repositioning strategy of set aside programs that in fact increase the price of both feeder and fed cattle substantially in this country. What is happening is that our producers once again are beginning to get from the marketplace a good return on their products. We have more to do and we are determined to do it.