These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Winter of Despair

Mr. Ed Komarnicki (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC): Mr. Speaker, a year ago the Prime Minister was on the phone with Premier Klein seeking advice on what to say to President Bush about the BSE crisis. In a subsequent meeting with the President last year, no action was taken and the border stayed closed. Now, a year later, the Prime Minister again meets with the President and the border continues to be closed to live cattle.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Having failed to cause President Bush to open the border now, what does he have to say to all the farmers and ranchers across Canada who are facing another winter of despair? What will he do beyond small talk and no action?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the reality is actually very much at odds with what the hon. member said.

First of all, two weeks ago the rule change moved out of the USDA and into the White House office of management and budget. That is an important piece of progress. It puts in place a 90 day timeframe in which a decision needs to be made, after which it comes into force 60 days later.

Moreover, in a discussion between the Prime Minister and President Bush, the President said clearly, when he was here this week, that he will expedite that process in the OMB and that he will instruct his officials to do so as well.

Mr. Bradley Trost (Saskatoon—Humboldt, CPC): Mr. Speaker, all we have from the government on the live cattle ban is excuses on why the U.S. border will not open. President Bush has come and gone, and still the border remains closed.

The Prime Minister has failed our livestock producers again. When will the border open?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the hon. member that, rather than just giving us partisan rhetoric, he should take a look at what is actually occurring in the marketplace.

Thanks to the program that we put in place on September 10, particularly with our set aside programs with fed and feeder cattle, we have seen a substantial recovery in price. It was around 65˘ for fed cattle. Last week it was up to 85˘. That represents, over an annualized basis, $1 billion from the marketplace to producers. We will continue to work to get the U.S. border open, but at the same time, we are ensuring that we assist producers in dealing with this situation.