Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take a few moments to briefly talk about Bill C-27, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Enforcement Act.
I listened to what some of our colleagues said earlier in this House. For instance, a Bloc member praised the senior official managing the agency, who happens to be my former deputy minister. He is, in fact, a career public servant, who has worked at the Privy Council and previously at the Treasury Board. He is very familiar with sound management practices. The member was right to praise him. He is highly qualified and very capable of managing the agency, which he is already doing very well.
However, I heard other things, which I do not agree with. The Bloc member compared the Newcastle disease to the mad cow disease. She said that, when the Newcastle disease struck the United States, Canada decided to segregate and import only from some states and not from the states fighting the disease, and so on.
That might be so, but let us not forget that the decision was made by the importing country, namely Canada. But that is not how things are working out this time around. Canada did not decide to stop exporting beef to the United States because of the discovery of a single case of mad cow disease almost two years ago. Every country in the world stopped importing Canadian beef. It is not the same thing. I am sorry, but we cannot say that a measure should apply to one, two or three regions of Canada. That is not how things are done.
Foreign countries decided to stop importing products from all over Canada. That is my first point.
Second, naturally, I am told that the incubation period for a disease such as Newcastle disease is very short. We can say there are some cases in this province, in that country, meaning the United States, and that there are none in others. It is not the same for mad cow because the incubation period is much longer. Furthermore, there has been no proof, to date, that any other importing country said yes, there is a case in Alberta but it does not apply to Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario or elsewhere. No other country has shown an interest in saying that the animals could come from one province instead of another.
That is why I think that the hon. member's comments do not apply whatsoever to mad cow. If it is applicable, I would really like to have an example proving that the animals could come from one province and that the United States has shown interest in opening the border.
But it has been proven, and it is very clear, that there is no such interest. It has been proven to all the international organizations, including the World Health Organization and others, that there is no proof of contagion, that it concerned a single animal, that there were no other cases and all the rest. Even so, the United States has not re-opened the border.
Knowing there is none anywhere in Canada, they still have not opened up the border. Even if they had been told there was none in the other nine provinces, they would not have opened it any more promptly. There was none anywhere. That is why I feel that was has been said here a little earlier was not valid.
I have been listening to my colleague from Timmins—James Bay speaking about certain measures relating to provincial abattoirs. I do not share his opinion. I think that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has always had very high standards and that the standard in a given province must not be reduced at any point. If the provincial agencies want to raise their standards to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's level, that is fine with me.
The hon. member said that standards must not be lowered, safety compromised and so forth. We cannot have it both ways. He cannot claim, as far as the abattoir in his riding is concerned, that the Government of Canada ought to have lowered its requirements to the provincial level—and these are not either interprovincial or international standards—and also say that the standards ought not to be lowered.
I think that instead an effort ought to be made to have all provinces raise their standards where applicable. I am not accusing any province specifically, not saying that one has standards absolutely identical to the federal ones while others' standards are higher or lower. An effort needs to be made by all provinces to have a standard that is as high as the federal one.
Perhaps we need to have a dual rating system. So if a company did business within a province, the stock could be slaughtered in a provincial abattoir, but if there was going to be interprovincial or international export, a federal abattoir would have to be used. That way the higher standard would be used.
I do not believe that it would be appropriate to bring provincial standards down in order for bring them in line with the standards in some other province. The reverse should be done, in fact, in order to maintain our excellent world reputation.
Even in the case of mad cow, we know that was an isolated case that did not spread, as I have already said. So even there we have every reason to be confident.
One thing that is interesting to note is that in the case of the mad cow disease, contrary to what occurred in Europe, particularly in Britain, there was no reduction in consumer confidence in our country. I am very proud of that. I am very proud of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for its part in that. After the mad cow incident in Canada, beef consumption actually went up in our country. A sympathy on the part of the Canadian consumer manifested itself. That is the exact opposite of what occurred in Europe.