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Cablegate: Manitoba Conservation Leader Registers Concern In

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS OTTAWA 001744

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EB AND WHA
USDA FOR LINDA DETWILIER
APP WINNIPEG SENDS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD PREL OTRA CA
SUBJECT: MANITOBA CONSERVATION LEADER REGISTERS CONCERN IN
BSE CRISIS

1. On 19 June, Manitoba Conservative Party leader (and head
of Manitoba's Official Opposition in the Legislature) Stuart
Murray visited new APP Winnipeg Consul to formally register
the concerns of his constituents at the ongoing freeze of
Canadian beef import into the United States. He specifically
asked if there was anything else that political leaders or
beef producers could do to speed the reopening of the border.
Further, noting that some U.S. Senators had suggested
reopening the border to Canadian beef could take as long as
seven years, Murray asked if Consul had any indication as to
how long the process might really take or if he saw any light
at the end of the tunnel.

2. Consul responded that while he was quite new to Canada and
to the office, his initial impression was that the Canadian
government was being quite cooperative and thorough in its
investigation of the Alberta outbreak. He underscored that
the USG's responsibility first and foremost was the
protection of U.S. consumers, but that the U.S. also
understood the pain inflicted on Canadian ranchers. Consul
said that the U.S. would do everything it could to reopen the
border to Canadian beef as quickly as possible, but added
that any such decision must be based on sound science. He
pointed out that the task -- proving the existence of a
negative -- was logically impossible, but that the U.S. would
have to have a high confidence level in the science before
acting.

3. Murray asserted his belief that there was some political
angle to the continuing ban. Pointing both to the obvious
benefits to the U.S. cattle industry of the border closure to
the U.S. beef, as well as the recent decline in U.S.-Canadian
relations and what he described as the poor relationship
between PM Chretien and President Bush, Murray said the
purpose of his call was to send the message that Manitoba's
political leaders wanted to see the situation resolved
quickly. Consul agreed to report his views to Ottawa and
Washington, and provided Murray with an June 6 backgrounder
from USDA on BSE. Consul also offered to keep Murray
informed of any new developments he became aware of.

4. COMMENT: It is worth noting that under Murray's
leadership, the Conservative party lost 4 of its 24 seats in
the legislature in the June 3 provincial elections, and local
press reports suggest Murray may face a leadership challenge
in the next few months. While Murray's concern for Manitoba
farmers is real and justified, his approach to APP Winnipeg
may also represent his desire to show himself as a man of
action. End Comment.
CELLUCCI

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