These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Support for Producers

Ms. Belinda Stronach (Newmarket—Aurora, CPC): Mr. Speaker, in just over a week the U.S. border should open again for younger cattle, but the Prime Minister's failure for more than a year and a half to get that border open has caused devastating losses to the entire cattle sector.

Worse, the media report that Alberta truckers and feedlot owners fear there will be another six months to a year of harassment at the border. Many truckers have already gone to the oil patch and others will just not bother trying. The border will be open on paper, but not in practice.

When the trade minister was in Washington for the first time recently, did he receive assurances from the U.S. government that it will not harass Canadian truckers and open the border for real on March 7?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is well aware, the USDA put forward at the end of December a revised rule that would govern how the border would be open to younger cattle. That rule is based on science. Officials on both sides of the border are working with each other to develop the necessary protocols to bring that into effect.

Ms. Belinda Stronach (Newmarket—Aurora, CPC): Mr. Speaker, to add insult to injury each truck carrying live cattle into the U.S. starting March 7 will be inspected individually. This higher administrative cost will be passed on to the Canadian producer at between $5 and $15 a head extra. More holdups and more delays.

Has the minister negotiated with the Americans a special protocol for clearing our cattle faster and if not, when will he do that?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my answer to the first question, officials on both the Canadian side and the U.S. side are in the midst of discussions in anticipation of the rule coming into force. They will ensure that the regulatory regime that will be necessary to facilitate trade is put in place and they will work on that in a manner that works for producers as well as consumers.

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the lack of any meaningful commitment to agriculture producers in this budget is appalling. An industry struggling to cope with a myriad of problems received .3% of the Liberals' $42 billion wish list. That is an insult.

Is this pathetic attempt a reflection of the finance minister's ignorance on the issue or the agriculture minister's incompetence?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the comments from the hon. member are utter nonsense. He ignores the almost $2 billion that has gone to assist the beef and cattle industry. He ignores the fact that in the first two years of the new business risk management program $700 million beyond what was originally projected to be spent will flow to producers.

The reality is that there has been substantial support for producers across the country. We have done that in the past and we will continue to do that in the future.

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC): Mr. Speaker, if the minister was to show that indignation at the cabinet table, we might actually get a program that he can deliver. The minister can repeat all the big numbers he wants, but his record on delivery five days or five years from now is despicable. It is one of failure and a litany of excuses.

The minister finally got the message that the cash deposit on CAIS had to go, but like everything else in this budget, it is a promise without a deadline. Will the minister stand up right now and give us an exact date when that ridiculous requirement will be gone?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member conveniently ignores, which is not the case that he puts in his question, is that real money has gone to real producers to assist them with real needs.

I know it does not fit the member's political agenda to have to admit that, but the reality is, and all those folks over there should listen, the real money has gone to real producers to deal with real issues and not simply the rhetoric that we hear from the other side.