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House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Carbon TaxStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, let me take a few moments to set the facts right and remind all Canadians what the NDP members opposite have said about their plans with respect to a job-killing carbon tax.

The NDP leader said, of course, that he has “a cap-and-trade system that...will produce billions”; the member for Edmonton—Strathcona said, “We've taken the stance that the most important thing is to put the right price on carbon”; and the NDP House leader remarked, “...the point of the exercise is putting a price on carbon”. Of course, we have all seen the NDP platform, where they clearly outlined their plan to raise $21 billion in revenue with their job-killing carbon tax. When it comes to their support for a job-killing carbon tax, the NDP members opposite can run from it, but they cannot hide from it.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the tainted meat issue, the Minister of Agriculture told the House that no tainted products had made it to store shelves. Yet people are sick because of this tainted meat.

The minister also said that no cuts were made to food inspection, but his own documents reveal that cuts were made to funding and staff.

Why did the Conservatives not take the tainted meat issue seriously?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, Canadian consumers are still the top priority when it comes to food safety.

The Minister of Agriculture will continue to hold those responsible for food safety accountable in order to ensure that the CFIA responds quickly and effectively.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, how could the minister claim that tainted meat had not made it to grocery store shelves? That is the question.

How could he put Canadians in danger by telling the opposite of the truth?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's 2012-13 report on plans and priorities is clear: $46.6 million in cuts were made over two years and 314 employees were laid off.

The minister must stop claiming that no cuts were made. There have been cuts.

Does the minister not realize what a serious impact his cuts will have on the health of Canadian consumers?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I repeat: the Minister of Agriculture will continue to hold those responsible for food safety accountable in order to ensure that the CFIA responds quickly and effectively.

Let us be clear. Under this government we have actually seen an increase in inspectors. We have actually seen 700 food inspectors added to the roll since 2006, including 170 particular to the subject of meat inspection.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, why are the Conservatives continuing to claim there are no cuts when their own financial documents say just the opposite? Are their financial documents not accurate?

This is the same minister who mishandled the listeriosis outbreak in 2008, and joked about “death by a thousand....cold cuts”. It was not funny then, and it is not funny now. Is this the best they have to offer Canadians who are worried whether the food they are giving their kids is safe?

The minister stands in the House and keeps making misleading statements. Will there be no accountability for this new tainted meat scandal?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House the Minister of Agriculture is working very hard and is working sincerely to ensure that this issue is dealt with appropriately, including ensuring we have more food inspectors, more meat inspectors.

It goes further than that. We have new legislation that has been introduced, safe food for Canadians, to help CFIA respond to food safety situations quickly.

What has happened? When we have tried to do this, made new investments, brought new legislation forward to improve safety for Canadians, that leader and that party have opposed it all the way.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is simple. Canadians want safe food for their families, and it is the Minister of Agriculture's job to make sure they protect it.

September 3 was the first positive test for E. coli, yet it was not until September 26 that the XL plant in question had its licence suspended. Here we are, with 12 beef recall notices encompassing 1.9 million pounds of suspect E. coli-contaminated beef.

Why did the Conservatives' new regulations not work to protect Canadians? Will the Conservatives now admit that self-regulation does not work?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I must point out that this member has no credibility on this issue.

Earlier last week, this member said that there were no CFIA inspectors in the plant. This was untrue; there were 46 CFIA inspectors at the XL plant. That is a 20% increase over what there was three years ago.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. It is the government's cuts and policies of self-regulation that have failed.

In this case, XL failed to protect food safety. By the time the CFIA inspectors got involved, the contamination had spun out of control.

Yesterday, CFIA's director of meat programs division called this “an unprecedented situation”. He is right.

When will the Conservative government start taking responsibility for its failed policies?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I want to reinforce that Canadian consumers are always a top priority for this government when it comes to food safety. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is very much on top of this file, and he is holding CFIA's feet to the fire to ensure that it responds quickly and effectively.

The truth of the matter is that our party, our government, has put forward legislation to increase funding to the CFIA by $150 million over the last two budgets. That party has voted against it. We have hired an additional 700 net new inspectors.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, perhaps one could ask the question: When was the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food informed of the problems at the XL plant?

If the Canadian consumer is so much at the forefront of the government's concern, can the government please explain why it was that the Canadian consumer in Alberta and elsewhere was not informed for a full two weeks by the Government of Canada with respect to the problems at XL?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party was in the House and he knows that the minister has held officials accountable with respect to this issue. The minister has been working throughout this process to ensure that we have more food safety capacity.

We have more legislation now. We have more investment directly into the issue of having more inspectors. We have increased the CFIA's budget by $156 million during our time in government. There are more front-line workers and more safety for Canadians.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

October 1st, 2012 / 2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Also there are at least nine people who have been infected by E. coli, including a young girl who had an operation because her kidneys stopped working. That is the issue that the government has to come to terms with.

We had this long body of explanation from CFIA; we have the protestations by ministers; but we still have two hard realities. For a long period of time, a long period of silence, Canadian consumers were not informed; and the minister has not told us when he knew about the problem at XL. Those are the facts.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our thoughts are certainly with anyone affected by this issue, and I know that is where the minister is concerned first and foremost. That is why we have continued to put consumers first when it comes to the priority of food safety. That is why we have invested more money when it comes to the subject of food safety—more money, more inspectors and more attention to detail.

I know that the minister will continue to have his attention on this file.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the government puts consumers first, then why were they the last to find out that there was a problem? Consumers are the ones who ate the tainted meat. The problem is that we have tainted meat and a government that does not respond to the consumers that it claims to protect.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat that the priority for Canada is to focus on this issue and improve the system.

This is the very reason we have made these investments. During our time in government, considerable money was put directly to the issue of food inspection. That is why a recent OECD report ranked Canada as among the best performing countries in the world when it came to food safety performance. That is why we will continue to make these important investments to address any and all safety concerns. That is where the minister is working and that is where he will continue to work to improve safety.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, instead of reining in ministers' extravagant spending, the Conservatives decided to make cuts to food inspection, air safety, marine rescue centres and our border services. Their cuts are targeting services that are essential to the safety of Canadians, the very services that a responsible government usually provides to the public.

Why are the Conservatives rejecting their responsibility to protect Canadians?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, as was clearly shown in Canada's economic action plan 2012, we found fair, balanced and moderate savings measures to reduce the deficit. Overall, the savings we found represent less than 2% of program spending. These savings will be implemented over a three-year period, so full savings will not be realized until 2014-2015. Departments continue to communicate with unions and those who are affected.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats were proud to vote against these reckless Conservative cuts. Unlike the government, we will vote to protect the services that keep Canadians safe.

The Conservatives voted to cut airline safety, to cut food safety, to cut search and rescue centres, to cut the Coast Guard, to cut border services. Why are Conservatives cutting front line services that keep our families safe? How can they celebrate deregulation on the same day Canadians are getting sick from tainted meat?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, economic action plan 2012 is our plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. An important part of that plan is returning to a balanced budget through fair, balanced and moderate savings measures. We have outlined some of those savings measures in the budget. Departments will continue to receive communications, unions will continue to receive communications and employees affected will also continue to receive communications.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, for months we have been telling the Conservatives that food safety is not negotiable. Their response has been to claim that the budget cuts have no impact and that E. coli contamination is not serious. The Conservatives are the ones who accelerated the food inspection process last spring. Why? To save money.

It is not complicated: does the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food understand the consequences of the budget cuts for food safety?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the facts: since 2006, we have hired more than 700 food inspectors, including 170 meat inspectors. That is more than before. Under the latest budget we brought down in the House, the CFIA's budget will increase by $150 million, and the NDP voted against those measures.

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government's decision to close the Kitsilano Coast Guard station is causing great worry, but the Minister of Canadian Heritage blames those who voice concern, attacking the mayor of Vancouver, claiming, “He has never phoned me...never contacted the prime minister”. In fact, Mayor Robertson did write to the Prime Minister in June. He complained about the lack of consultation and how these cuts might hurt lifesaving search and rescue efforts.

Instead of blaming local officials, when will somebody on that side take responsibility?

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I assure the member that the top priority of our Canadian Coast Guard is the safety of mariners and that the Canadian Coast Guard will continue to provide safe and effective search and rescue services in Vancouver. We have reorganized or are planning to reorganize the search and rescue network of resources. When we put in place the new hovercraft and the inshore rescue boat station and strengthen partnerships with the Royal Canadian search and rescue, we are confident we will have the necessary resources in place to provide the service we need.