|July 31, 2003
The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
309-S Centre Block
House of Commons
Dear Prime Minister:
I recently had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Canadian Cattlemen Association. During this meeting, it was instilled upon me that the urgency of the current situation has now reached critical proportions. To date the BSE crisis has cost the industry over $700 million. The impact on our economy is extremely severe and continues to result in losses in the range of over $10 million daily. For those in the beef industry and affiliated businesses it is devastating.
Our beef industry depends on trade with the United States. It is therefore incumbent upon you as Prime Minister of Canada to ensure all options for an immediate solution to the current crisis are pursued. The threat of a massive slaughter cannot be allowed to become a reality. The compensation package has thus far been a partial and temporary approach.
The livelihood of Canadian beef industry workers, feedlot operators and those in transportation from coast-to-coast remain in jeopardy. If the border is not reopened immediately, many will be forced to abandon their businesses.
The scientists have done their job. They have proven without a doubt that Canadian beef is safe and exacts standards beyond those in countries who have closed their borders. Now is the time for Parliament to convey this message to the United States, and in turn the world.
I am requesting that you give this issue your complete focus and contact President George W. Bush, and request that he meet with a delegation composed of the five party leaders from the House of Commons. I believe you would find all party leaders anxious and willing to suspend all summer activities to travel to Washington D.C. to discuss this issue and ensure our unified commitment to make whatever substantive changes are needed to reopen export markets.
To this end, I ask that you call for, and endorse, a joint committee comprised of the five party leaders to meet with American officials and request the United States full cooperation in reopening the border. Parliament must demonstrate that all Parties are committed to meeting conditions set by Japan and the U.S. to rescind the beef ban.
I suggest that the urgency of this issue cannot be overstated. I would appreciate an expeditious response to this pressing matter.
Peter MacKay, M.P.
Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
Cc: Gilles Duceppe, BQ
Stephen Harper, CA
Jack Layton, NDP