These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Scaring the Hell Out of Producers

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, CPC): Mr. Speaker, due to mismanagement by the Liberal government the BSE crisis is approaching its second anniversary.

Canadians devastated by the U.S. border closure have been looking for leadership and positive action from the government. What they are getting instead is a prolonged crisis due to the government's choice of arrogance over statesmanship.

Canada's weakened position with our closest and largest trading partner is creating an ever expanding circle of hardship. How can Canadians possibly expect to see an end to trade irritants when the government's own actions have eroded its ability to effect change?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that would be an interesting observation if it did not totally forget about the facts.

The reality is on the issue of BSE, Canada and the United States have exactly the same position, that the border should be opened, that it should be opened based on science, and that the Canadian regulatory regime protects animal and public health. Both the American government and the Canadian government agree that the border should be open. We are working collectively to deal with the legal impediments that were put forward by one judge in one state.

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, CPC): Mr. Speaker, if BSE were a priority to the government, that minister would have been in Texas today.

Canadians are tired of empty promises. They have heard far too much talk while deadline after deadline for an open border expires.

While the Prime Minister stated there would be ample opportunity to discuss the BSE crisis with President Bush today, cattle were not even on the agenda.

When is the government going to realize that it is not embarrassing the hell out of the Americans, it is scaring the hell out of Canadian producers?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, maybe it is left over from the Conservatives' convention on the weekend when they were busily on TV, but on this side of the House we are far more interested in making substantive progress than in having photo ops somewhere.

Quite frankly, the work we have done with the United States government has assisted us in having both countries look at this item in the same way.

More important, the government has provided $1.9 billion of support for the beef and cattle industry. We will continue to stand behind that industry as we move forward.