Canada Threatens Retaliation

Published online: Dec 21, 2000
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Canada's Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief is threatening to give the United States a taste of its own medicine if the border doesn't soon open to Prince Edward Island potatoes.

According to The Guardian, PEI newspaper, Vanclief said he told U.S. Ag Secretary Dan Glickman that science was on the side of PEI. He said maybe it's time Canada consider protecting itself from potato pests that are present in some parts of the United States.

"He got my message loud and clear and I think he reads into that exactly what it means," Vanclief said from Ottawa Wednesday, Dec. 20.

After U.S. potato industry representatives met with APHIS officials in Washington, DC, last week, they were told the arrangements to re-open the border to Canadian potatoes were only preliminary.

"We are going to make sure that the same science.we will double check and triple check and quadruple check the science that is used to allow potatoes from the United States from areas where they have pests into Canada," the minister was quoted as saying.

"I made it clear and I instructed the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to start to take the steps as of Tuesday night to enforce this prudence."

At the same time in a Charlottetown, PEI, court, the case of Leslie MacKay, the owner of Campbelton Farms of New London, who was charged with violating the Plant Health Act by trucking seed from Maine in to PEI, was starting.

MacKay's legal counsel Paul Michael asked Provincial Court Judge Nancy Orr to rule on the legality of regulation that requires seed potatoes planted in PEI to have a permit from the provincial minister responsible.

Guidelines directing government staff on the requ irements for the permit say that any imported seed potatoes must come from Canadian sources.

Michael had argued earlier that this was not a potato issue but a trade issue and as such can only be regulated by the federal government. Attorney for the Plaintiffs argued that it was in deed a plant-health issue.