These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Slaughter Facilities

Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the government has stood by and watched for months now as the top brass at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have prevented the Blue Mountain packing plant from opening. Cattlemen desperately need this plant. It is ready to go. Inspectors on the ground have said so. The government continues to be part of the problem instead of the solution.

In fact, how many plants has the CFIA approved in western Canada in the 18 months since the BSE crisis hit? The answer is none. Why is that?

Hon. Wayne Easter (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Rural Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very well aware of the issue the hon. member talks about. In fact, I have talked to some of the investors who are involved. CFIA has a job to do and that is the protection of food and safety and the security of food for Canadians and in terms of our exports. It has set up a process in which it will send an expert out to the plant on Monday to try to settle the issues on the ground, but the bottom line has to be the protection of the food and security of Canadians and in terms of our exports around the world.

Mr. Larry Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, CPC): Mr. Speaker, thousands of livestock producers in my riding and across this country are suffering from this Liberal government's complete failure to address the BSE crisis. It has consistently used the American election as an excuse for not challenging the border closure. With the U.S. election now over, this government can no longer stall in taking further action on the BSE crisis.

I ask the agriculture minister, why has this government refused to stand with producers by taking effective trade action through the WTO or NAFTA?

Hon. Wayne Easter (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Rural Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if there has ever been a government that has stood with its producers on a tough issue, this is the government that has. Not only have we made 150 interventions with the Americans, with officials and regulatory authorities, we have actually, with the provinces, put $2.3 billion of ad hoc programming on top of the regular safety nets for producers.

We recognize that there is a difficult situation out there and we are working with producers to cure it. We are trying to increase the slaughter capacity. We are trying to improve the market with the fed and feeder set-aside programs and--

The Speaker: The hon. member for Ottawa South.