Mr. Speaker, I commend the opposition for bringing forth amendments which they feel will improve the bill. That being said, there is a little misinformation about what the roles in Parliament are and the latitudes each has.
When we look at the bill and the agency which is being formed in this case, the ultimate person responsible is the minister. There is absolutely no question that if there is a problem with the agency, if corrections have to made, if budgets have to be altered and if some things have to be changed, the ultimate responsibility falls on the minister and the government. In the amendment the suggestion is that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food be the committee to deal with the approval of the administrative budgets and the approval of the annual reports.
Quite frankly, it is the responsibility of the committee of the House of Commons to examine every aspect of operations in government affairs. Very clearly, the standing committee on agriculture can bring forth any issue. It can bring forward the issue of a business plan. It can deal with that with every industry across the country. It can deal with that with every provincial government across the country. And it can clearly deal with the agency. It is the standing committee's authority given by the House to deal with those issues and bring them forward to the public, discuss them and allow public input.
In fact what is being suggested in the bill goes beyond the latitude of standing committee operations. It is being suggested that the standing committee must approve government operations for which it is not responsible if something goes wrong. It is responsible to the House to investigate issues and make recommendations to the ministry and to the House. There is a misconception about the responsible role of each person in this type of government. That is unfortunate. Again I would point out it is extremely important that the final approval be given to the minister so that the minister can act very quickly.
Food inspection is very, very important to that industry in this country. There is no question that when we ran into some difficulties over food inspection, the minister and his ministry acted very quickly and immediately to make certain the problems were dealt with properly. That is why it is important for the minister to be
ready to act at any time. We do not put other vehicles in the way of swift action.
The Canadian government has always put food safety as a priority and will continue to do so. There is no question that we have a worldwide reputation for dealing with issues swiftly and conclusively and making certain that Canadians have the safest and best food supply in the world. The minister and his ministry are responsible for that.
If it happened that the House of Commons standing committee would deal with those issues as has been suggested by the opposition, we would have to set up a very large portion of full time staff to deal with consultations across the country, with added expenses to the government and to make certain that hearings are held across the country.
This has been particularly well set out in Bill C-60. It is my understanding that every province in the country supports the fact that this agency will be of crucial importance to the agricultural community in those provinces. All industries across this country support our position with regard to agencies. When we look at it, we have consulted with all of the provinces and the industry. We are accountable through the minister and through the questioning in this House as well as the public hearings that are carried on in the House of Commons standing committee.
Clearly, the support of the provinces and industry in this agency is very important. I might underline the fact too that there is no question that outside reporting agencies such as the auditor general have to comment on the concerns within this bill. Therefore, there is no question that the accountability for this agency is there through the minister's office, through the auditor general's office, through the processes of public consultation, through the department as well as through the standing committee.
I cannot see how we can support this motion. It certainly does not fulfil what I would suggest is the role of responsible government.