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House of Commons Hansard #157 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was benefit.

Topics

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it would appear that Canadian consumers are the first priority of the government, but they are also the last to know. That is the problem.

In that context, I would like to ask the Prime Minister, quite specifically, when was he and his office informed with respect to the problem of the E. coli outbreak and the situation at XL? When did he first know?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, responsibility for food inspection in Canada is vested with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. That agency received information on September 4 and began its containment of contaminated product, and has been acting on information ever since.

I hear some complaints across the way about the fact that the plant has shut down. The plant will remain shut down until the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is convinced that it is safe to operate.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

October 2nd, 2012 / 2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that last week the Minister of Agriculture stood in this place and said, “We have actually done a tremendous job”.

Last week, when he thought everything was hunky-dory, he took all the credit for what had taken place.

What a contrast with yesterday, when the Minister of National Defence said, “The Minister of Agriculture will continue to hold those responsible for food safety accountable”.

What a contrast. We have gone from “we” to “they”. “We” have disappeared. “We” have gone out the window. Now it is “they”.

When is the Prime Minister

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency responds to the information it receives. As it received more information, it has widened its containment and its recall.

If the hon. member believes the authorities that the agency currently possesses are in some way deficient, the government has addressed that not just through the Weatherill report, but now through the legislation that is before Parliament to increase the authorities of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Obviously we would appreciate his support in passing those measures.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, would the Prime Minister be willing to accept the amendment proposed by Senator Peterson in the other place, whereby the Auditor General would review the situation and determine whether the right conditions are in place?

Would the Prime Minister agree to such an amendment?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have not seen the amendment, but I can say that the government is acting on the recommendations of the Weatherill report, which the government commissioned several years ago. There is legislation before this Parliament to address these recommendations.

I encourage the hon. member to do his part to ensure a more effective Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the tainted beef crisis is the second major crisis to shake the Canadian meat industry in less than five years.

This meat recall fiasco is strangely reminiscent of the mess surrounding the listeriosis crisis. Every time, Canadian producers and the entire agri-food industry are the ones who pay the price. It also costs the Canadian economy billions of dollars. That is the price of Conservative cuts.

Canadians have a right to know.

Why does the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food refuse to accept his own responsibility in the current crisis?

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, I would like to clearly state that Canadian food is safe. When it comes to food safety in Canada, two things are certain. The first is that the government continues to provide CFIA with the inspectors and operating budget it needs to ensure that the Canadian food safety system remains the best in the world.

The second thing that is certain is that the opposition always votes against any initiatives that would improve food safety in Canada.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, Alberta beef producers, workers and consumers are all stressed. The list of beef products recalled is growing for XL Foods. The price of Alberta beef is dropping. Workers fear for their jobs. Families worry what to feed their kids. A well-regulated slaughter industry is critical to the credibility of our beef industry. Local consumption and export markets rely on that. Without clear rules and strong enforcement, our food is put at risk.

Will the minister give CFIA the strengthened enforcement mandate for which it has asked?

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, I am glad the member raised this point because that is my point. When is the opposition going to stand and vote for more resources for CFIA, vote for more money for CFIA? I asked her colleague this question and I ask her it now.

We have introduced important legislation called the safe food for Canadians act. It is in the other place, but that member and her colleagues, before it has even reached the House, have said that they are going to vote against the legislation that would make CFIA even stronger in protecting food for Canadians.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, they woke up three days after the United States, yet they refuse to accept responsibility for what has happened. Except they must because they are the ones who made cuts to food safety.

They have also reduced support for members of our armed forces. They cut emergency funds for our municipalities. They reduced employment insurance for low-income workers.

Why are they coming down on the people who protect us and those who are in need?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, day in and day out the NDP members stand in this place and want the government to spend more money. They want to tax more. That is very clear.

Those of us on this side of the House are ensuring that we do not dig too deeply into the pockets of hard-working Canadian families. Those of us on this side of the House are working to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the equipment they need to get the job done that Canadians demand and expect of them.

Our government is working hard under the finance minister, leading the best economic results in the G7. This government has a lot to be proud of when it comes to jobs and the economy.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats were proud to vote against the government's reckless cuts. We voted against cuts to counselling for members of the Canadian Forces, against cuts to employment insurance. We voted against its plans to cut food inspection, while Conservatives spent yesterday celebrating deregulation.

Why are the Conservatives giving billions in tax handouts to profitable oil companies, while telling Canadian families the cupboard is bare when it comes to public safety?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, here is actually the record. On airline safety and security, we have increased the number of aviation inspector positions by 40%. Upgrading Coast Guard facilities like lifeboat stations and reinstating offices across the country, an extra $1.4 billion for the Coast Guard. Increase in border security officers by 26%. A $68 million increase in Environment Canada's budgets and 50% more inspections of federally-regulated pipelines. I could go on and on.

Every time we put safety first for Canadians the opposition votes against it.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the fact is Conservative cuts are putting Canadians at risk and it is not just food inspection.

Reckless budget cuts this year ended the joint emergency preparedness program. Internal government evaluations warned that these cuts would significantly and negatively impact emergency preparedness at the community level. Firefighters and local leaders have warned the Minister of Public Safety that these cuts will hamper their ability to respond to emergencies and to save lives.

Why are the Conservatives continuing to put Canadians at risk by cutting emergency preparedness?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we have focused our efforts in areas that should in fact be the responsibility of the federal government. Therefore, I was very pleased to hear that the Prime Minister put aside $99 million in terms of mitigation for flooding in some of the provinces affected by flooding: Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec. Those are issues that need to be addressed. The Prime Minister has stepped forward and put the money in the place where we should be spending it.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, this mitigation program will not replace the cuts that the government has already made.

The truth is that they shut down the joint emergency preparedness program. The Conservatives were warned five years ago that, if cuts were made, the safety of the heavy urban search and rescue teams would be compromised.

These teams have saved many lives, as was the case this summer when the Elliot Lake shopping mall collapsed. The Conservatives' budget cuts put first responders and entire communities in danger.

Can they tell us how many rescue teams will disappear?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I did not get the complete translation, but I can say that we have been focusing on issues that relate to matters of federal jurisdiction.

With respect to mitigation, we have ensured that there is more money available for mitigation to protect the lives and property of citizens right across the country. We will continue to work in partnership with the provinces, which are the first responders, along with the municipalities. That is their responsibility.

However, there are other issues where our government has doubled, indeed, tripled and quadrupled the amount of money that we are spending on public safety.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives can live in denial all they want, but budget cuts have consequences.

Yesterday the minister admitted that workers who have nothing better than a one-day part-time job were better served by the old employment insurance system. It took some time, but the minister is beginning to understand. The problem is that she is not going to do anything to correct the situation.

The first step towards healing is understanding the problem. Now that the minister has acknowledged the problem, why does she not start to fix it?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, a number of employers across the country are in need of Canadians' skills and abilities. They have jobs to offer people who have these skills and abilities. The problem is that these people are not accepting these jobs or do not know that they exist. We are working with the unemployed to make them aware of these jobs and to help them find work. We want to help people work.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the questions change but the answers are always the same. We are going in circles.

They are so out of touch with reality that it is no wonder they are avoiding answering our questions. Yesterday the minister realized that there was a problem for the people who depend on the system the most and who have a hard time making ends meet, paying for groceries, school supplies and rent and paying their bills. This would not have happened if the Conservatives had consulted the public and experts.

Will the minister come up with a solution to address the flaws in her reform?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, economic growth and job creation are our priorities. When jobs are created, we need people to hire. That is why we have invested a lot of money in training so that people can find new careers and jobs and so that their families can be better off. This is good for them, their communities and our country.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government never misses an opportunity to help the most well off, while continually abdicating its responsibility to the poor.

Yesterday, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development acknowledged that not everyone was benefiting from the new working while on claim. In fact, it is the lowest income, the most vulnerable Canadians who are losing out. The minister's response is to turn her back.

The minister has admitted there is problem. Why will she not do the reasonable thing, the fair thing, and fix it now?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, sadly, when it comes to turning their backs on the poor of our country, NDP members are champions at it. They have voted against billions of dollars in affordable housing for our seniors, the disabled and the folks in the far north who really need it. They voted against lowering taxes to help families keep more money in their pockets. They voted against the working income tax benefit that helps people get over the welfare wall. They have turned their backs on the poor of our country. Shame on them.