These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Second Anniversary of Border Closure

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we in the official opposition have been calling on the government to use all the legal tools at its disposal in the fight to open the U.S. border to our live Canadian cattle. The Canadian cattle industry now is calling on the government to do the same.

The second anniversary of the border closure is fast approaching and prices paid for slaughtered cattle in Canada are once again in free fall. The adverse effects of this dramatic fall in prices is being felt in the trucking, grain and other related industries as well.

For the sake of all those affected, will the government finally initiate the NAFTA and WTO dispute mechanisms available to it.?

Hon. Wayne Easter (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Rural Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows full well the efforts of all members of the cabinet on this side of the House, especially the Minister of Agriculture and the Prime Minister. In fact, the U.S. administration is onside with Canada that the border should be open to cattle coming from Canada. We have aggressively gone out there and we have in fact achieved that. The only reason the border is closed is because of the decision of one judge in the state of Montana.

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture has continued to announce band-aid solutions for farm families. The agriculture industry has its jugular severed and is bleeding red ink, and the band-aid being offered will not stop the hemorrhage. The latest flawed program is just another in a long Liberal lineup of flawed agricultural programs. It is based on outdated data. The money farmers get will be clawed back in the CAIS program.

What farmers really need is a minister with the backbone to challenge our trading partners and fight for market access. Why has the government not challenged the U.S. and other countries under the WTO and NAFTA--

The Speaker: The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Hon. Wayne Easter (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Rural Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what the farm community really needs is a party in opposition that would at least be reasonably straightforward and honest with the facts instead of saying that this is a band-aid solution. Do those members call $1 billion to the farm community a band-aid solution? Do they think Canadian taxpayers call $4.8 billion last year from federal and provincial governments band-aid solutions?

The minister is negotiating hard. The government continues to negotiate hard at the WTO, and we will stand with farmers in their time of need.