Yesterday during Senate Question Period, I felt it was crucial to address an issue that Canada’s cattle industry has encountered. Here is the text of my question in support of our cattle industry, along with the Government Leader in the Senate’s response.
Hon. Douglas Black: My question is for the Leader of the Government of the Senate. Last week the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease, in an animal on a farm in Alberta. As Canadians, we know that Canadian beef is safe, and in this case the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that no part of the animal has reached the human food or animal food systems. Notwithstanding this, South Korea has taken actions to block beef imports from Canada.
Will you please, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, inform the Senate what steps the government is taking to ensure that we keep markets open for Canadian beef and communicate the safety of our product to our trading partners?
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Thank you for your excellent question, senator. You have made it clear that you are committed to the Canadian economy and the people you represent in your province. That is to your credit.
Obviously I wasn’t anticipating that question, but I can say that as part of the government’s ongoing BSE surveillance activities, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed that a beef cow born in 2009 was infected with BSE. As the honourable senator indicated, the agency confirmed that no part of the animal’s carcass reached the human food or animal feed systems. In accordance with the internationally recognized protocol, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working with its provincial and industry partners. It will keep Canadians abreast of the situation as more information becomes available.
However, according to the World Organization for Animal Health, Canada remains a controlled BSE risk country, and we expect our trade partners to continue to recognize us as such.
As you probably know, on February 13, the organization told Reuters that the discovery and reporting of new cases of BSE gave the international community the assurance and evidence that the health surveillance systems were working and also showed Canada’s commitment to meeting its obligations and being transparent about reporting diseases to the World Organization for Animal Health.
As far as South Korea’s recent actions are concerned, that country followed our bilateral trade protocol. The government is applying Canada’s rigorous monitoring system and working to resolve this situation as soon as possible, because needless to say, it is disrupting trade.
I also want to take this opportunity to point out that the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association recently indicated that the finding of a case of BSE in a beef cow in Alberta, while unfortunate, demonstrates the robustness of the National BSE Surveillance Program Canada has in place.
The association added in its press release of February 13, 2015, that it has complete confidence in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the investigation that is under way.