These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Biosafety Protocol

Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and it has to do with the biosafety protocol.

So far 44 countries have ratified the Cartagena protocol on biosafety. Fifty are needed for it to come into effect. In view of perceived conflicting agricultural interests, could the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food indicate when he will give the green light so that Canada can finally ratify the biosafety protocol?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canada signed the biosafety protocol in April 2001 and we are on a plan to ratify it.

However, before ratifying it we need to resolve some uncertainties in the agreement. We are doing that in consultation with the agriculture and the agri-food industry. Based on those consultations we have drafted an action plan to identify and deal with those uncertainties.

There is still more work that needs to be done, but we are committed to resolving those uncertainties that may impact the agriculture and agri-food industry before we ratify.

Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is always difficult to reach consensus among farmers but the government has managed the near impossible. Farm leaders are unanimous in their opposition to the risk management program being foisted on them in two weeks, saying the proposals are much worse than what exists now. With 22 major Canadian farm groups arguing they have not been listened to, the only farmers the department has not alienated are those it has not met.

Farmers want current safety net programs to remain in place for one more year. What is wrong with this very reasonable request by Canadian farmers?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member was very vocal in stating that, for example, the Canadian Farm Income Program was not effective. He was very vocal about that in the past.

The government has moved toward and is proposing a new, far more effective program. That disaster program has been there in the past and will not be there this year. The government will ensure that farmers in Canada have a disaster program for 2003 that they deserve to have.