These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Border Not Opening

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, let me deal with the consequences of the Prime Minister's mismanagement of Canada-U.S. relations.

The government seemed totally unprepared for what happened last week in the U.S. courts and the U.S. senate to our cattle industry. The Prime Minister had promised Canadian producers that the American border would be open today. Well, promise made, promise broken.

Given the Prime Minister's incompetence in this crisis, is he now prepared to immediately use the budget's contingency funds to help our cattle farmers?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that comment is absolutely ludicrous. As most Canadians know and as the hon. member should know, the U.S. administration stands firmly behind Canada's position and is working with Canada.

Unlike what the hon. member asserts, we did not go into that unprepared. In fact, in September we put forward a strategy to deal with the industry being profitable with or without a border opening.

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, what is ludicrous is that we have people losing their livelihood, month after month of bungling and no action, and our farmers expect some action right now.

The minister did not make a commitment to emergency assistance. I want him to make that commitment and to acknowledge that all the opposition parties, all the provinces and all our producers believe the CAIS program is not working and that emergency funding will come outside of CAIS because it does not work and it does not deliver.

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in a take note debate in the House a couple of weeks ago, the Leader of the Opposition said that quite frankly he did not understand the details of the particular issue and that he would allow others to answer. He clearly is demonstrating that.

Quite frankly, the hon. Leader of the Opposition is trying to score cheap political points as opposed to trying to deal with the issue. The reality is that $1.9 billion beyond CAIS have been invested into the cattle and beef industry in this country. As the Minister of Finance said, we stand by our industry and stand to make new investments as necessary.