Two major Canadian meat-packing firms have been threatened with heavy fines if they miss a deadline for not producing financial details demanded by Canada’s House of Commons, which is investigating how the C$1.6bn (US$1.15bn) of aid during the recent BSE crisis was used.

Under a proposal before the House agriculture committee Cargill Foods of Winnipeg and Alberta-based Lakeside Packers would have to provide financial statements or face a fine of $250,000 each day after a deadline for being deemed in Contempt of Parliament.

A deadline had been set for 20 May, but that has now been delayed by objecting Conservative MPs. Another meeting is scheduled for 23 May, when a majority vote is expected to set a firm deadline.

Initially, Cargill has said it would not provide them for confidentiality reasons whilst Tyson Foods-owned Lakeside Packers has argued it did not have the documents and thought the issue was becoming too political.