House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was food.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I knew the parliamentary secretary was going to raise that issue, which is why I would ask him to have a look at Justice O'Connor's report that points out that the reckless Rae administration reduced public expenditure in the ministry of the environment from $363 million to $271 million.

The difference between the government that I led and the Harris government was that nobody died on our watch. People need to ask themselves what the consequences will be of their actions? This is something the government is not prepared to accept.

I will not carry on a debate with respect to what happened between 1990 and 1995. The deficits that were run up in recent years by the current government are far larger than anything ever seen in the province of Ontario. The government has increased spending by over 40% of those five years. The Rae government increased it by 18%. The kinds of comparisons the member is making are nonsensical.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity to continue this debate on an important subject matter in terms of what governments can and should properly do to protect the public health and safety of Canadians. As the member for Toronto Centre has just said, that is the fundamental obligation of every government, regardless of ideology.

The problem we see with the particular government at the federal level in Canada today is that it simply presumes too much about its mandate. It exaggerates and overreaches. Yes, the government happens to have a majority of seats in the House of Commons, but it does not have a majority of support among Canadians. The Conservative government received 40% of the vote from 60% of those who voted. That means its mandate amounts to 24% of the eligible voters who cast votes in the last election. That is a very modest mandate.

In fact, that kind of a mandate, a minority of overall support, is not uncommon in Canada. However, what it says to the government that wins is that it must be a little modest in interpreting the mandate it has been given. It must not exaggerate, overreach, engage in false bravado or engage in triumphalism because that leads to bad governance. It leads to an attitude of impunity and that leads to the kinds of problems that we see with the cuts to public health and safety that the government is imposing in this latest budget.

The government's attitude of impunity, of overreaching and exaggerating its mandate leads to excessive and obsessive behaviour. We have seen that with the Minister of International Cooperation, the Minister of Industry and the Minister of National Defence. We see that in the way the Conservatives are treating the whole issue around the robocalls and the election scandal that the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada is now investigating. The government simply dismisses this as irrelevant and trivial.

We see the consequences of this attitude of impunity in the abuses of parliamentary procedure and process where the Conservatives never answer questions in question period. They take the important business of parliamentary committees and move it behind closed doors in secret sessions. They have used closure to ram through their legislation more times in four or five months than most majority governments used in four or five years.

We see it in the omnibus legislation and the very budget bill that is before Parliament right now. It is legislation that lumps so many matters together that Parliament cannot possibly debate, discuss and consider those matters in any serious way that Canadians would expect.

We see that attitude of impunity in the way the Conservatives deal with an issue like the F-35s and the keeping of two sets of books, as has been revealed by the Auditor General. We see it in their failure to be candid with Canadians and tell the truth about the real cost of that particular transaction.

Most problematic, we see this attitude of impunity reflected in the government's unbridled application of its ideology. Rather than taking into account the varied and diverse views of Canadians and allowing everyone to have their say to ensure those views are properly respected and reflected, we have this rigid application of ideology that simply drives the government's minority position down the throats of Canadians. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the cuts that the Conservatives have chosen to make in this budget.

We can talk about the cuts to health care, old age security and in so many other areas, but most particularly I want to focus on the cuts to search and rescue, environmental science and protection, and food inspection. The government seems to think that those things are less important than its pet projects where it lavishes spending on, for example, the acquisition of the F-35, without any kind of competitive tendering process, and the downloading of expenses for jails onto the provincial levels of government. Jets and jails are the government's pet projects. The Conservatives seem to think that things like the environment, food inspection and search and rescue are expendable.

The Conservatives are cutting $56.1 million from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's budget. They say that all of it will come from the back office and that we will not notice any front line difference. In fact, these so-called savings will be coming from the firing of at least 344 personnel from the already understaffed CFIA food inspection branches across the country, the very jobs that exist to protect Canadians from unsafe food products.

The government is also planning to implement a new policy with respect to food labelling. We might call it eat at our own risk. This policy will rely on the self-policing of food safety by industry and by individual Canadians rather than trained public servants. It is like saying that if people think they have an E. coli problem they should look it up on the Internet and maybe they can find help there. Those cuts will put the health and well-being of certain Canadians at particular risk, including those who can suffer potentially fatal allergies and serious health conditions like Crohn's disease, celiac disorder or diabetes, individuals who rely on the CFIA to ensure the accuracy of food labels to protect their health.

Those are not the only cuts that the government is making with respect to the CFIA. Last year, it took $33.5 million from its budget, including $17.5 million from increased inspections and inspectors. This is a dangerous policy. The purpose of our motion today is to point out that danger so that the government can reflect on these issues and change its mind before it is too late.

We have mentioned the environment. The government is chopping $88.2 million from the environment portfolio while making the empty promise, which the member for Toronto Centre mentioned, that it will maintain “the highest possible standards for protecting the environment”. In fact, these cuts are being made by the firing of government scientists who oversee environmental assessments and monitoring, as well as cutting some 30 staff from the environmental emergencies program.

The government is also gutting environmental legislation and weakening several environmental laws. It is silencing dissent from environmental non-governmental organizations and continues to muzzle government scientists working in the field of the environment, at least those who still have their jobs. It has also cancelled the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

Food inspection is one area, environmental science and environmental protection is another where the government is being penny wise and pound poor as it cuts away at those things that protect the quality of life and the safety of Canadians in this country.

The government has also decided to close the St. John's and Quebec City maritime search and rescue coordination centres. These cuts are a direct attack on the safety and security of everyone who makes their living at sea. Despite the government's blandishments to the contrary, it is highly unlikely that the centres in Halifax and Trenton will be able to make up the difference and handle the increased workload caused by the St. John's and Quebec City closures.

If the Conservatives can spend over $30 million on a commemorative program for the War of 1812, then surely they can keep vital centres like the search and rescue coordination centres open to serve Canadians and to protect Canadians' lives in and around places like St. John's and Quebec City.

The cuts that we are facing with the government today, as the member for Toronto Centre so graphically illustrated, mimic directly the kind of behaviour that we saw in the Ontario provincial government leading up to 2000 when that government decided to make a collection of decisions cutting back on environmental protection and on water safety in the province of Ontario. That decision by the Harris government led directly to the tragedy in Walkerton in 2000. That is not simply a political statement. That is the explicit legal finding by Mr. Justice Dennis O'Connor when he investigated that matter in a public environment. We need to ensure that kind of thing does not happen again.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, my question relates back to the issue of search and rescue, which we were discussing in this House earlier today, before this current debate began. However, there is an important point to be made here because there has been a collapse in the logic of the member for Wascana. We are not surprised to hear that from someone like the member for Toronto Centre. When an old socialist sells out to big capital, logic collapses in all kinds of ways. However, we do need to know whether the member for Wascana agrees with the following facts.

Search and rescue on the sea and in the air is a lead responsibility of the Canadian Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard. Does the member agree that the base funding for resources and equipment of these proud Canadian services is 30% to 40% higher today than it was in 2006 under his government, and therefore that search and rescue services on Canada's three coasts for anyone in peril at sea or as a result of an air accident have been enhanced considerably under this government? Does he agree with those facts?

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government has taken a decision to close centres in Quebec City and in St. John's. The services provided by those centres cannot easily be transferred to other locations as far away as Halifax or Trenton. As well, the Quebec City location offers the absolutely vital service in the French language, which is also critical in that region of the country in particular. The member simply cannot escape the reality that his government has made the decision to cut back on search and rescue and that is not in the best interests of Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, this debate is a very interesting one and I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Toronto Centre for bringing this motion into the House and enabling us to remind Canadians about the close association, not just in ideology but in action, between the government here and the government of Mike Harris in Ontario. A government in an era which can only be described as disastrous for the province of Ontario and the tragic circumstances which culminated in the deaths of seven innocent people is the clearest and starkest example of what happens when hard right-wing ideology trumps science, good public administration and common sense.

So I would like to thank the hon. member for giving us this opportunity. I wonder if he could comment further on what we are seeing today. We are seeing the government defending the Mike Harris years. One would think that any sound politician would run for the hills rather than defend that egregious government.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government really cannot help itself from falling into the very trap to which the hon. gentleman has just referred. It is a government that embraces the same ideology and embraces a number of ministers who were at the table when the fateful decisions were made in Ontario. At least three members on the front benches of the current government were in that government. The decisions taken at that time, in the 1990s, led to the shortchanging of the environmental system in Ontario and the water protection system in Ontario. We were all assured that these decisions would have no negative consequences whatsoever. However, the reality is that there were negative consequences. Again, that is not just the expression of a political or a partisan point of view.

This whole matter was thoroughly and completely investigated by Mr. Justice Dennis O'Connor. His report is very revealing. In paragraph after paragraph, he links the consequences at Walkerton to decisions taken by the Harris government in Ontario. He says very clearly that if those decisions had been otherwise, then there would have been every likelihood that the tragedy in Walkerton could have been avoided.

The purpose of this motion today is to say let us learn that lesson from history and ensure that, in this country, that kind of thing cannot happen again.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed with the motion that the opposition has decided to debate in the House today. Suggesting that the minister responsible for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, CFIA, would do something that would endanger the health and safety of Canadians lacks credibility and reflects poorly on the opposition itself. Spreading fear among Canadians by suggesting that budget 2012 will make their food unsafe is irresponsible. I find it most regrettable that the opposition is attempting to achieve political gain by undermining the confidence of Canadians in the safety of their food. I believe it shows very poor judgment on the part of its members.

Protecting the health and safety of Canadians has been and remains one of our government's most important priorities. Canadians know this. They know that their food is safe and they have confidence in our food safety system. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity to set the record straight, focusing specifically on the impact of the budget on the work of the CFIA and food safety within Canada.

The recent budget will not reduce Canada's investment in food safety or diminish the role of the CFIA. Our government believes that it is possible to find savings, find efficiencies and cut red tape within the CFIA without putting the health and safety of Canadians at risk. Both before and after our most recent budget, all food products produced or sold in Canada must meet our high safety standards. Before elaborating further, allow me to provide some context for food safety in Canada.

Our food safety regime is a partnership among governments, industry and consumers. At the federal level, Health Canada works with stakeholders to establish policies, regulations and standards relating to the safety and nutritional quality of all food sold in Canada. Once Health Canada sets these policies and standards, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency enforces them.

In addition, the CFIA is responsible for protection of the animal and plant resources base in Canada on which the production of safe food depends. As members may recall, the previous four federal budgets invested significantly in our food safety system, enabling the agency to hire additional inspection staff. In fact, not only did our previous budgets sustain funding for our food safety programs, they increased funding.

For example, budget 2011 provided an additional $100 million in funding for the agency to build science capacity and enhance training and inspection tools for inspectors. Unfortunately, the opposition members voted against these changes. They profess to be concerned about food safety in Canada, but every time we put forward a positive initiative and increase funding for food safety they vote against it. These are significant investments in our food safety capacity. It just does not make sense that after having made such significant investments the government would then set about to undermine the progress that has been made.

In fact, the exact opposite is true. Budget 2012 provides an additional $51 million over two years to the CFIA, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada for continuing key food safety activities. In other words, the recent budget is strengthening, not weakening, this government's commitment to the health and safety of Canadians.

The opposition members call for more money and food safety. We have put more money into Canada's food safety system and, against all logic, they have voted against the very initiatives that they asked for. They do this every time. The opposition members voted against the $100 million increase in budget 2011. They voted against the $51 million increase in budget 2012. I believe that when it comes to food safety Canadians do not understand what the opposition is doing or trying to accomplish. The very actions of the opposition members betray them.

Like all federal departments and agencies, the CFIA is contributing to the government's deficit reduction action plan. However, the CFIA has not and will not reduce staff or cut programs that would put the health and safety of Canadians at risk. Indeed, budget 2012 is supporting the CFIA's drive toward modernization and will allow the agency to focus its key resources where they are most needed.

For some reason, the opposition does not want to acknowledge that Canada's food safety system was recognized as superior in a food safety report on OECD countries. I will happily quote again from that report for my colleagues.

It states:

The nation's food safety is ranked as superior based on factors such as the rate of food-borne illness, inspections, education programs, use of agricultural chemicals and strategies on bioterrorism, risk management and food recalls.

For some reason this independent, third-party report is not credible in the eyes of the opposition, which is why I am here to speak to this motion today.

The changes to the CFIA following the budget reflect four key principles. First, the CFIA will focus on programs that are important to Canadians. Second, it will modify programs to reflect current scientific knowledge. Third, it will improve service capacity and cut red tape for industry. Fourth, it will increase efficiency.

Let me explain how the agency will apply those principles.

Canada has one of the world's best food safety systems. We must not only maintain and improve that system, but also preserve the confidence of Canadians and our trading partners in our ability to protect consumers. How will we do that? We will focus on what is really important.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will focus on its core mandate: safeguarding Canada's food supply, plant and animal resources and consumers. As such, the agency must take a close look at all activities that do not fall within that mandate and that should be turned over to other qualified individuals or organizations.

For example, Canada has always worked with the provinces on meat inspection. That partnership will not change. All meats produced in Canada, in both federal and provincial institutions, must comply with the health requirements set out in the Food and Drugs Act.

In accordance with its mandate under the Act, the CFIA inspects federally regulated facilities. In principle, the provinces are responsible for inspecting facilities that they regulate. On the ground, however, the division of labour is not quite that clear.

While most provinces fulfill their own meat inspection responsibilities, the CFIA has been handling these activities in British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan on a contract basis. This has been going on for a number of years now on a limited cost recovery basis. This inspection activity has been focused on verifying compliance with provincial standards in these provinces. However, as announced last August, the CFIA is returning meat inspection responsibilities to these three provinces.

I want to emphasize that CFIA is not abandoning its responsibilities, but rather returning certain tasks to their rightful owner. When Canadians buy meat at the local grocery store, they may look at the brand, the price, the best-before date and the nutrition label. I do not believe for a moment they wonder whether the meat plant was inspected by a provincial or federal authority. What is important is only that the product was inspected by a qualified inspector and that it was deemed safe.

The CFIA has no legislated obligation to inspect provincially regulated meat plants, and the agency has judged the time right to focus on its primary role of federal inspection activities. During the transition, of course, the CFIA will continue to work closely with its provincial counterparts as they put in place their own inspection services, and the food safety system will continue to protect Canadians.

The integrity of the food safety system will certainly not be compromised by returning provincial meat inspection duties to where they belong. Indeed, budget 2012 positions the CFIA to focus on its core responsibilities, and that is what is most important to Canadians.

The second principle guiding implementation of the budget is a focus on the latest science. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is Canada's foremost science-based regulator. It uses science when making program decisions. Due to its very nature, however, science is constantly evolving, and the agency must keep pace.

To that end, the CFIA is adjusting some programs so that its activities, equipment and facilities reflect the most current scientific knowledge. It is also consolidating its scientific expertise in better equipped facilities. This will support collaboration and make more effective use of laboratory resources.

Let me provide some concrete examples of what this means in practice. On the west coast, the CFIA will move some of its activities at the Centre for Plant Health in Sidney to the research station in Summerland, run by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Combining expertise at one facility in British Columbia will enhance capacity to serve the grapevine and tree fruit industries. Moreover, it will ensure the agency's vital work takes place in a better equipped facility with a larger pool of scientists. Together, the team will take the greatest care to conduct its work effectively. That includes working in an appropriately secure environment that reflects the associated pest risks.

In Atlantic Canada, the CFIA is consolidating some services within its own network of laboratories. Specifically, the agency will transfer testing and diagnostic activities in St. John's to laboratories in Charlottetown and Dartmouth, and for good reason. The facilities in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia are more modern and better equipped to handle the complex food and plant testing required by the industry.

As someone who has studied science, I know many people still entertain romantic notions of innovation. These often revolve around a professor working alone in a lab who has a eureka moment that changes history. This is not reality. Science usually moves forward in increments and more often than not demands close collaboration for success. That is why the consolidation of the agency's laboratories in Atlantic Canada hold so much potential. The move will create enhanced pools of expertise in two geographic areas instead of three. This will allow scientists and diagnosticians to work together more closely and promote greater effectiveness.

As its third principle guiding implementation of budget 2012, the CFIA is determined to improve service and to cut unnecessary administrative costs for industry. To do that, the agency is harnessing new technologies that will provide another tool to help industry create compliant labels. These changes will have no impact on food safety, but they will reduce costs for both government and industry alike.

Unlike the opposition, our government knows that money can be saved without affecting food safety and, in addition, that Canadians expect us to use their tax dollars prudently.

This tool, called the self-assessment labelling tool, will give producers, manufacturers and retailers the information they need to apply federal regulations correctly. In the process, it will reduce the amount of time needed for agency staff to answer routine questions. As an added benefit, if they so wish, consumers can also use the tool to learn more about labelling and rules that companies are required to follow.

Let me be as clear as possible. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will continue to verify and enforce all food safety and consumer protection labelling requirements, including those related to ingredients, allergens, nutrition, compositional standards and mandatory labelling. It will simply do so more efficiently and effectively.

It is possible to save taxpayer dollars and improve service. I know this is difficult for the opposition to grasp, but this is exactly what we are doing.

In addition, a mandatory pre-market registration of labels is currently required for processed food. This practice, however, duplicates routine oversight activities that the agency already carries out in the marketplace. I want to stress that these changes do not effect food safety. Indeed, all this requirement has ever done is slow down the entry of new products into the marketplace.

These savings are definitely good for taxpayers and our food safety system and they do not effect food safety.

I repeat: CFIA inspectors will continue to verify labels, take samples and conduct analyses to ensure that no allergens are present and that the list of ingredients indicated on the label is complete. They will also continue to investigate public complaints.

The agency will also repeal the regulations that limit the size of food containers. Thus, the industry will be able to profit from new formats and new packaging technologies and will be able to import new products from abroad. When all is said and done, these measures will provide consumers and the industry with greater choice.

Increased efficiency is the final principle that will guide the implementation of budget 2012. Thus, I am pleased to announce that the agency will work more intelligently without sacrificing its commitment to food safety.

The CFIA carefully examined all activities that were not directly associated with food safety or animal or plant health and made some smart adjustments. For instance, the agency will now spend less time on grading and quality assurance activities that have no impact on food safety, such as for seeds and fertilizer. Accordingly, the CFIA will work with the private sector, industry and other stakeholders to develop other delivery mechanisms when it makes sense to do so.

It is important to remember that, since 2006, our government has invested significantly in order to improve our food safety system. In particular, budget 2011 allocated $100 million. Building on those commitments, budget 2012 allocates $51 million to primary food safety activities, including the activities managed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Yes, like all federal departments and agencies, the CFIA will contribute to the government's deficit reduction efforts. I can assure the House, however, that these budget reductions will not affect food safety. On the contrary, the changes brought about by the budget will only strengthen the agency's work.

Budget 2012 will allow the CFIA to realign its efforts and resources in accordance with its basic mandate and the programs that are truly important to Canadians. It will also allow the agency to make better use of its scientific expertise, to launch new initiatives that will improve services and reduce red tape for the industry, and to streamline its integrated operations so that it can work more intelligently. In short, we should be congratulating the CFIA on having transformed challenges into new opportunities.

This government is proud that Canada has one of the best food safety systems in the world. Be assured that we will not tarnish our reputation globally or undermine the trust and confidence of Canadians in the food they eat. Let me repeat. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has not, and will not, reduce staff or cut programs that would, in any way, put the health and safety of Canadians at risk.

For all these reasons, the government does not agree with the spirit or the letter of the opposition motion. Indeed, the motion recklessly attempts to undermine the confidence of Canadians in our world-class food safety regime and it does so for the attempted gain of the opposition.

I urge all members in the House to join me in opposing this opposition motion.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, what the parliamentary secretary has asked us to do is to trust that whatever the government says is, in some way, fact.

The government told us that the F-35s would cost $75 million a plane. Now the costs are at $120 million a plane, a budget that has bloomed $10 billion. It cannot be trusted.

The government tells us that we have strong environmental policies. We have not only become laggards in the international community, we have become environmental outlaws in the international community.

The member comes into the House to have us believe that everything is fine, that there will be no cuts to the front line. Yet that is not what the front line is talking about. That is not what the senior management of CFIA is talking about right now. It is telling its staff, “I don't know how you can take 10% out of your budget and not deal with the front line”.

Why this denial, why this camouflage, why all of this subterfuge? Why do you not tell us what you are doing and be honest with Canadians?

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Before I go to the parliamentary secretary, I would like to remind all hon. members to direct their comments to the Chair, rather than to their colleagues.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I sit on the agriculture committee. We had the union bosses come in front of committee. They talked about cuts to food inspectors, in particular meat inspectors. I put forward this case of the three provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, where right now federal inspectors do the work of provincial meat inspections. What if the federal government decides to transfer the responsibility for those inspections right back to the province, which is where they belong? That would mean 50-some inspectors would leave the federal payroll and be transferred to the province. It is not a cut. It is a transfer. It is a natural transfer of responsibility. It actually makes good sense.

Yet the union leader and my colleague on the other side would call this a cut. This is the kind of deception at play here. Some people are calling things cuts that are not necessary cuts.

I thank the member for his confidence that the government is operating at 100% efficiency. I take that as a compliment, but there are efficiencies that can be made within government. Canadians know that. They have asked that of the government. We are making those kinds of savings without compromising food safety.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, based on what I am hearing in the House, history seems to be repeating itself because the assurances the government member just gave us in writing are not unlike those given by the Conservative Government of Ontario when it made budget cuts that contributed to the tragic events in Walkerton.

Honestly, I put very little stock in what I see here in writing or in what is being said. It is truly the result and the process that matter the most. The hon. member in question, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, has a lot to say about the money that has been invested, to the tune of millions of dollars, but if those millions of dollars have been poorly invested, then we are really no further ahead.

I would like to raise two points in particular and ask the hon. member to share his comments on each. In August 2008, before the listeriosis outbreak, an employee at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency read the government's directives that 5% of the agency's funding had to be cut and some of its essential, independent functions had to be transferred to the private sector. This amounted to self-regulation. How can that really be considered an improvement?

The second point is the scathing report by Ms. Weatherill. In her report—

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has asked us for facts and I would like to give him some. Our recent budget includes an additional $51 million over two years for improving food safety, on top of the $100 million in last year's budget. Those are the facts.

The opposition members have asked for more resources in order to allow the CFIA to do its job. The government has allocated a lot more funding, but that member and the other opposition members voted against our positive initiatives. We are taking measures to strengthen our food safety system. I would like to have the support of the other members of this House.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is always rich to hear Liberals talk about ethics in government. When they were in government, they promised that they would kill the GST and they did not do it. They promised to implement Kyoto and they did not do it. They promised not to cut health care and they cut $25 billion from it.

When the NDP had a chance to be in government in Ontario, it spent so much money it almost bankrupted the province.

This government has reinvested in the economy. The Conservatives said that we would focus on jobs and the economy. We said that we would balance the budget and reinvest in families and we have done that. We said that we would improve food inspection for the country and we have done that. We have reinvested in the armed forces. Both of those parties voted against that.

Could the parliamentary secretary continue to tell us about some of the very important investments we have made, not only in food safety but also in agriculture so we can take more Canadian products around the world, so we can increase productivity, do better for our farmers and our economy and create more jobs?

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

April 30th, 2012 / 1 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the House knows, we are very active on the agriculture file. We put farmers first. We have had tremendous success and farmers most of all know this as do consumers.

In terms of some of the successes, for example, we have been opening international markets to our farmers. Our farmers compete extremely well internationally once the borders are open. Our Minister of Agriculture has done tremendous work in opening borders for our farmers. Our farmers have profited.

One of the things that helps sell Canadian produce abroad is our food safety system. Other countries know that our food is safe and not only that, it is top quality food, food that their residents want.