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House of Commons Hansard #164 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cfia.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Food SafetyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on her excellent speech.

Indeed, the minister seems to have neglected his duties in this matter. We need only look at how long it took him to respond to the crisis. I have a feeling that this is going to cause Canadians to lose all confidence in the years to come. My question relates to that.

Does the member think that the minister's negligence will completely destroy Canadians' confidence in our meat processing plants and in the work of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency? And what is the only thing left for him to do? What must the minister now do in light of this scandal?

Opposition Motion--Food SafetyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sherbrooke.

Yes, people have lost confidence in this Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. A number of people are supporting our call for the minister's resignation because he misled Canadians. On several occasions he joked about the crisis and he said that no tainted meat reached the grocery stores. However, we know very well that people have fallen ill, and that we are facing the largest ever recall of such products in Canada's history.

Yes, we are quite justified in calling for his resignation. Many people support this move and many workers in the industry are quite simply calling for the resignation of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Opposition Motion--Food SafetyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, since this morning, the members opposite, including the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, have been demanding that we debate Bill S-11, from the Senate, which is an unelected chamber. This is sad. Once again, the Conservatives are trying to discredit our work. The House of Commons is made up of elected members. We were elected by the Canadian people from coast to coast to coast, and the government is preventing us from doing our job.

Today's topic has to do with an industry hit particularly hard by a number of problems in the past decade. From the mad cow crisis to listeriosis and the current E. coli concerns, the agriculture industry has been harshly singled out, especially in how it is treated by the current government.

This sector is very important to our economy. In fact, one out of eight jobs in Canada is in the agriculture and food processing industry. We have to give the industry the attention it deserves because it is such an important part of our daily lives.

When I think of all of the farmers in my riding who are trying to make a living, I feel compelled to stand up for these Canadians across the country by supporting the action plan proposed in the motion we are debating today.

Years ago, we never would have thought that our cupboards would be filled with foods from around the world. I am not talking about unusual and exotic meats and fruits. The range of foods available on supermarket shelves has changed dramatically.

Farmers face challenges every day, and they are now facing a serious crisis of confidence in their products, which could jeopardize the survival of many family farms weakened by the Conservatives' inaction for far too long now.

I would like to start my speech by reading the last part of this excellent motion:

(c) directing the Auditor General to conduct an immediate assessment of food safety procedures and resources and report his findings to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

And to think I believed that our system was one of the best in the world. At the beginning of this crisis, I was convinced that the contaminated beef was American. I thought the government was taking its usual approach, which means taking a long time to react to an order from the American authorities. I must have been really naive to think that the Conservatives were really governing the country.

After visiting slaughter facilities, food processing and manufacturing plants, and training facilities for young farmers in my riding and in many regions of Quebec, I found that all stakeholders on the ground agreed that our standards are among the highest and that our system is one of the most effective in the industrial world.

So what happened on the front lines? Where were the CFIA inspectors? Why did the chain of command between the CFIA and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food break down? This minister is responsible for this. Why was nothing done to ensure the safety of Canadians and to maintain confidence in an industry that was already suffering from the folly of this government's ideology?

An investigation is absolutely necessary in order to finally shed some light on the current crisis facing this very crucial industry. An investigation is crucial in order to restore consumer confidence.

Today the House is calling on the government to adopt this motion in order to restore Canadians' confidence in our food safety system.

Here is how this can be achieved, as indicated in the second part of the motion:

(b) reversing budget cuts [of over $100 million] and halting the de-regulation of Canada’s food safety system;

How can Canadians trust a system when the government claims to be investing in that area, but is actually gradually withdrawing from it? Self-regulation does not always work, especially when it comes to a beef processing plant of that size.

A number of stakeholders in the agriculture sector had warned us that sooner or later someone would make mistakes at this company. What did the cuts affect? Training of front-line officers, the number of officers working in real time, the modernization of regulations and their harmonization with those of our neighbours south of the border.

Instead of paying attention to the people who devote themselves to these activities that are so important to our country and thus restoring consumers' confidence by providing them with access to local products, the government is investing in advertising and photo ops. There is no accountability and no sense of ministerial responsibility.

While the minister spends more time with certain male colleagues in tanning salons, an industry is being hard hit by the lack of action or involvement in an area that demands credibility, collaboration, co-operation and, above all, communication. By firing the current minister and handing over the food safety portfolio to a minister capable of restoring public trust, we will ensure that new impetus is given to investigating this situation.

I realize that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture would love to be the next agriculture minister, but does he have the right stuff? Listening to him, we can be sure of one thing: like a number of other Conservative cabinet members, he is either living in a parallel universe or he is just following orders that come directly from the Prime Minister's Office. Come to think of it, we should perhaps also include the ministers of industry and transport. We can talk about this another time; it is an entirely different matter.

In closing, I wish to pledge my complete and utter support for the fantastic motion we are currently debating in the House, and I assure my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food of my unwavering support for their demands. What is happening is truly unfortunate, but the Conservatives have pushed for more self-regulation, and inspectors are now inspecting paperwork instead of meat.

Today's motion is the direct result of the Conservatives' incompetence, and Canadians are paying the price, especially our hard-working western farmers who do their work with integrity and often devote their lives to it. Thank you and bon appétit.

Opposition Motion--Food SafetyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the member for Compton—Stanstead talked about the crisis of confidence in the minister as it relates to the food safety issue and to not taking responsibility for the crisis as a minister should.

The member also talked about the producers in his riding and that is a big reason why the minister should step aside. The minister has been responsible for the biggest gutting of the agriculture safety nets in Canadian history. AgriStability was cut from 85% reference margins to 70%. AgriInvest was cut from 1.5% to 1%. Those are the safety nets that are there for producers in difficult economic times. The minister has not only failed Canadian consumers on his lack of responsibility on food safety, but has failed producers in terms of protecting their safety net.

What will be the impact on producers from both the loss of the safety net and the problems on pricing as a result of the beef crisis because the minister just was not there?

Opposition Motion--Food SafetyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for that question.

Indeed, this sector was already fragile. Cattle producers and even those from a number of other food sectors are having difficulty making ends meet because the government is doing nothing. Producers are being left to fend for themselves. They are no longer able to keep up and produce the way the Conservative government wants them to. In other words, the Conservatives favour large factories.

Small producers are already vulnerable and in jeopardy. They need help because they are truly essential to rural communities across Canada. They are facing this crisis and the government is refusing to support them. The government is also refusing to help them access decent incomes so that they can pass their farms on to future generations. This situation is intolerable.

Opposition Motion--Food SafetyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead for his excellent speech. He clearly showed why the Minister of Agriculture must resign. It is rare that we call for the resignation of a minister, but in this case, we see that the minister did not fulfill his responsibilities and that he was negligent in managing this file. Fifteen people became ill and he still did not take the situation seriously.

Does the hon. member believe that the government's decision to make budget cuts to such an important and strategic area as food safety is in the best interest of Canadians?

Opposition Motion--Food SafetyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is absurd about this situation is that small farms have to abide by extremely strict production standards in terms of food safety and quality. Yet, large factories such as XL Foods lower the standards, reduce the number of inspectors and do not pay any attention to the quality of training given to agents. This is a terrible and unfortunate thing.

Farmers want to produce quality food and serve their communities well. These people are being asked to take on an enormous burden. The NDP will continue to stand up for them and to do what it takes to protect our family farms.

EntrepreneursStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, for the third year running, the city of Grande Prairie has been named the most entrepreneurial city in the country by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

I am proud to represent the hard-working, innovative and forward-looking entrepreneurs who have led this country in building a thriving local economy that has created significant opportunity and prosperity.

Our community has been blessed with abundant natural resources and fertile land, but to carve opportunity out of the often challenging climate and remote location has demanded unceasing innovation, determination and vision.

Our local entrepreneurs embody the pioneering spirit that settled our region 100 years ago. Like the first pioneers, our local business owners are industrious, generous and committed to their families, neighbours, our community and our country.

On behalf of our Conservative government, I congratulate the business leaders from the Grande Prairie region for truly leading this country.

Women’s ForumStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this Persons Day, I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the women's forum being held today at the Government of Canada Conference Centre in Ottawa.

The forum was put together by our NDP colleague from Churchill. Women from across the country have come together to have a dialogue on women's equality. Throughout the day there will be speeches by women's rights advocates, academics and leaders on the subject of economic equality, social equality and equality in our communities.

Today we have an opportunity to set a course for the future. Inspired by the women attending the forum, the women who were at the heart of the “Persons Case” and women from across Canada, we have made a conscious decision to come together in this way.

The first step is to gather together to have this discussion. It is crucial to be aware of the challenges facing women and to realize that working together is the answer.

Together we can make progress in the fight for women's equality.

Research and InnovationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past summer, I had the opportunity to visit over 60 organizations in York Centre to see the important work they are doing and to discuss ways we can work together to build a better community.

One of the many highlights of my summer was when the Minister of State for Science and Technology visited York Centre to announce our government's $5.4 million investment in the B'nai Brith and the Ivey International Centre for Health Innovation for the creation of the Centre of Innovation Excellence for Alzheimer's Care.

As the member for York Centre, it gives me much pride to know that our government is investing in the future well-being of all Canadians.

On that note, I am excited to announce that, on November 1, a global leader in developing and providing brain health innovations, Baycrest, will be visiting Parliament Hill. During Baycrest's visit, my office has meetings and events planned that I hope many members will attend.

York Centre is home to many wonderful organizations that are making incredible advances in research and innovation. It makes me proud that our government is choosing to invest in organizations like B'nai Brith to help all Canadians enjoy a better quality of life.

Small Business WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week, Canadians all across the country are celebrating Small Business Week.

As I was an entrepreneur and business owner for many years before running for public office, I know the hard work, dedication and optimism it takes to succeed. I know that small businesses give much to Canadian society and they need government to do its part.

Right now, the Conservative government is not doing enough. Shops near the border are losing customers to the United States, thanks to higher duty-free limits. Hotels near national parks and tourism operators are struggling. The government's payroll tax increases are hurting many small businesses and discouraging them from hiring.

The government does not get it. Small businesses are the engine of our economy and they need government in their corner.

Today, I congratulate everyone who owns, runs or works in a small business for their immeasurable contributions to Canadian life.

I ask all Canadians to remember that if we all shop small it can make a big difference.

Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching ExcellenceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence honour outstanding and innovative Canadian school teachers.

In my riding of Delta—Richmond East, I am very proud of those named for the singular recognition with certificates of achievement.

Wendy Graham, a grade 6 teacher at Delta's Sacred Heart Elementary, shows obvious care and concern for her students, combined with endless energy and commitment to lessons that are current and interesting. Her career success emanates from an abiding respect shown for each child she guides through her classroom.

Dianne Simonson teaches grades 10 to 12 at Richmond's R.A. McMath Secondary School and helps students with career preparation. She launched the link crew initiative where 100 seniors mentored 245 new grade 9 students. This success led to helping other schools do the same and authoring a peer tutoring resource guide. She challenges, guides and builds leadership skills that have allowed her students the confidence to pursue their dreams.

Small Business WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, small and medium-sized businesses make up more than 99% of all companies in Canada and employ over 60% of all private sector workers.

If the Canadian economy is still standing, despite a very difficult global economy, it is thanks to the amazing capacity of those businesses to adapt and innovate.

To celebrate entrepreneurs, the Business Development Bank of Canada has created the BDC Small Business Week. This week, the BDC has organized activities like conferences and trade fairs all over Canada.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has designated October 20 as the first Small Business Saturday. This initiative will allow business leaders to showcase the crucial role that small and medium-sized businesses play in our local economies.

These two initiatives truly deserve to be recognized in this Parliament.

On behalf of all members of this House, I want to thank and commend the millions of Canadians who support and develop small and medium-sized businesses, which generate 50% of our GDP.

Citizenship and ImmigrationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, three years ago, the Federal Court of Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Board ruled that former KGB agent Mikhail Lennikov was inadmissible to Canada.

Lennikov is now a fugitive evading deportation orders and has illegally taken sanctuary in a church basement in Vancouver.

Two weeks ago, the NDP MPs from Burnaby—New Westminster and Vancouver Kingsway had Thanksgiving dinner with the former KGB agent in a show of support.

It must be said that anyone who was part of the former KGB assisted in one form or another with the atrocities carried out by the KGB. It does not matter how basic or advanced their role was, they all worked together to fulfill the KGB's brutal mission. How many people were wrongfully arrested or killed by the KGB as a result of Lennikov's services?

Those two NDP MPs have insulted Vancouver's Ukrainian community and over 1.2 million Ukrainian Canadians across Canada, as well as the other ethnic groups who suffered under the cruel hand of the KGB. I demand that these MPs apologize.

Small Business WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is national Small Business Week and I rise in the House today to pay tribute to the Streetsville Business Improvement Association. On October 10, I attended its fall open house and enjoyed speaking with the members.

Established in 1979, the purpose of the SBIA is to maintain and promote a vibrant business community within the historic village of Streetsville and is dedicated to serving the needs of local businesses and residents.

With close to 325 member businesses, the Streetsville BIA manages the beautification of the area, marketing and promotion of the village, and provides important business services. It hosts many season events, including Canada Day, the Bread and Honey Festival, Streetsville Santa Claus Parade and Tree Lighting, and Historic Walking Tours.

I pay tribute to board members Todd Ladner, Al Yeomans, Harold Johnson, Charmaine Tavares, Julie Walker, Christian Kennerney, Todd Smith, Tony Asta, Bruce Daley, George Carlson and staff Angela Trewartha and Kim Bunting.

PovertyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Sana Hassainia NDP Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which was created to encourage poverty-fighting initiatives. This was the perfect opportunity to support the Dignity for All campaign for a poverty-free Canada. In my riding there are a number of organizations working every day to improve people's lives. There is the Table itinérance Rive-Sud, which works to help the homeless on the south shore, and the Maison de l'entraide, which supplies food vouchers to a number of economically disadvantaged families in Sainte-Julie. I must also mention the work done by the Knights of Columbus and the Daughters of Isabella, who are dedicated to raising money to help the poor. Lastly, there is the Centre d'action bénévole, whose primary mandate is to promote volunteerism.

Today, on behalf of all of my constituents in Verchères—Les Patriotes, I want to thank all those who are fighting poverty in our region. Together we can make a difference.

Child PornographyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the RCMP announced the results of operation snapshot, targeting online child predators.

One child was rescued and more than 30 individuals were arrested on charges that include indecent exposure, invitation to sexual touching, accessing, possessing, distributing and making child pornography and Internet luring. Over 1,000 computers were seized along with hundreds of thousands of images. I am very proud of the work of our RCMP officers.

These types of successful investigations send a clear message to individuals who are engaged in this despicable behaviour. The police will find them and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

Our government has taken strong action to protect children and put in place new mandatory minimum sentences for child sex predators.

We have eliminated the ability of those who sexually abuse children to get criminal record suspensions, and we have taken steps to ensure police have the tools they need to do their job. Sadly, the NDP has voted against these common sense measures.

Canadians know that the Conservative government will always--

Child PornographyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

Persons DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is Persons Day, when we commemorate the fact that, in 1929, the word “person” was deemed to refer to both men and women. I would like to take this opportunity to remind the House that despite the significant gains that have been made in terms of women's rights in Canada, the fight for gender equality is unfortunately not over.

Must I remind the House that women are still disproportionately affected by poverty and violence, especially aboriginal women? Women also face substantial barriers in the labour market. Harassment seems to be part of the corporate culture in many organizations, and we do not have enough women in executive positions.

On top of all of that, we have the Conservatives' repeated attacks on women's right to choose. Fortunately, there has been some positive action. Today my colleague from Churchill has organized the very first women's forum, bringing women together from across the country. I would like to thank her for this excellent and very important initiative. As parliamentarians, we have a duty to continue this—

Persons DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Calgary Centre-North.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 85th anniversary of the historic Persons Case. The Governor General's awards in commemoration of the Persons Case are given to outstanding individuals who have advocated for the equality of women.

This week, five Canadians will receive the 2012 Persons Award, including two youth award recipients in honour of the first ever International Day of the Girl, a day championed internationally by Canada.

On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributes to advancing women's equality in Canada.

When my women colleagues and I rise in this place we do so with a deep appreciation for those who championed our right to be here. Let it never be lost on us that our right to have our voices heard in equality is a stance that forever binds us together for the sake of those who should one day follow us here.

As a woman parliamentarian who is profoundly proud of her free and democratic country, I congratulate this year's winners.

Pierre Elliot TrudeauStatements By Members

October 18th, 2012 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, October 18, is Pierre Elliot Trudeau's birthday. He served as prime minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984.

Mr. Trudeau served the Canadian public with remarkable talent and dedication. Regardless of our political stripes, I am sure that all members of the House will agree that Mr. Trudeau deserves our respect.

The entrenchment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a cause to which he was dedicated throughout his life, has provided Canadians with not only a symbol but a real and living protection for human rights in Canada.

His voice was clear and his courage and determination an example to all who aspire to leadership.

We celebrate his life on the anniversary of his birth.

What a man and what a life.

New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Conservative Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, just last week in my riding I was speaking with constituents at our local hospital fundraiser. My constituents are firmly opposed to a new $21 billion carbon tax that the NDP would propose.

NDP members can deny it all they want but they cannot hide from their plan to bring in $21 billion of new revenues from a carbon tax. The NDP leader said on December 4, 2011 that his cap and trade system “will provide a lot of revenue”. Then last February he further boasted about the plan, saying that “The cap-and-trade system that I propose...will produce billions”.

Our government will never allow the NDP to bring in $21 billion of new revenues from a carbon tax.

Member for Elmwood—TransconaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Conservative member for Orléans and the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Public Works did not talk about their ridings; they talked about the official opposition.

The member for Elmwood—Transcona has only made one statement in the House since we returned. What did he do with his precious, limited opportunity? He also parroted the PMO's blatantly misleading lines about the NDP. If that member does not want to talk about his great riding, I am proud to tell the House some of the fantastic things going on in Elmwood—Transcona.

For instance, Transcona is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. This coincides with the annual Hi Neighbour Festival, also celebrating its own 40th anniversary. These celebrations have allowed people in Transcona to reflect on the famous Canadians who have also come from the area, including Terry Fox; Olympic speed skater, Susan Auch; sports commentator, Rod Black; and of course our own Bill Blaikie.

We on this side of the House take great pride in celebrating the centennial. Shame on the member for kowtowing to the PMO—

Member for Elmwood—TransconaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands.