|These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard
BSE in Quebec
Mr. Sébastien Gagnon (Jonquière—Alma, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Fédération des producteurs de bovins du Québec estimates that Quebec producers have suffered $280 million in uncompensated losses since the mad cow crisis began. Michel Dessureault, the president of the federation, considers that the aid provided by this government does not meet Quebec's needs. Again this week, he stated that federal programs are not working. However, the purchase of the Colbex abattoir by producers would resolve the cull cow problem in Quebec.
When will the minister stop hiding behind the lack of flexibility of his programs in order to avoid doing his part to guarantee a floor price for cull cows?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said in the House yesterday, and which we have conveyed very directly to the UPA and to others in Quebec, should producers purchase the plant and they want to expand the amount of processing they do in that plant, we have programming that would be available to assist them.
Mr. Sébastien Gagnon (Jonquière—Alma, BQ): Mr. Speaker, two years after the American border closed to Canadian beef, we are still waiting for measures that will provide real aid to Quebec producers.
How does the minister explain the fact that the much promised aid has yet to materialize?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the reality is that programming has been put in place that has benefited producers in Quebec. In fact, it has benefited producers right across the country. Whether it be the TIS program, which was put in place in March 2004; the FIP program, which was just put in place in March 2005; or the repositioning strategy that we announced in September 2004, all these programs have worked to assist producers and the industry in general, including the industry in Quebec.