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House of Commons Hansard #158 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cfia.

Topics

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, today two small grocery store chains in B.C. publicly acknowledged that they had stocked recalled beef. These were good, honest business owners who wanted to protect their customers. The problem is that the Minister of Agriculture still has not put those same retailers on the list of stores that carried tainted beef from XL Foods. The store owners are coming forward with information, but the minister cannot even get that information out to Canadians.

Why is the Minister of Agriculture busy doing photo ops instead of answering questions and being accountable?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is not politicians who undertake these particular activities. It is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that operates according to the authorities vested in it in law and according to the information at its disposal. When it has had that information, it has acted.

The government identified some time ago that the agency could use additional powers in these circumstances. Those additional powers are contained in legislation presently before Parliament. We urge the opposition parties to support that legislation.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have not heard the minister answer a single question in the House this week, but he was a guest speaker at a luncheon in Battleford, Saskatchewan when the minister said, “we had some great Canadian beef for lunch.... I don’t know where it came from, I don’t care”.

Is the minister not aware that CFIA is warning Canadian consumers to ask grocers if their beef came from XL Foods? When will the minister stop making jokes, stop contradicting food safety officials and take his job seriously?

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, Canadians know that their health and safety is a top priority for this government. In fact, Canada has a superior food safety system. I will read a quote from a report on OECD countries regarding food safety. It states:

Canada is one of the best-performing countries in the 2010 Food Safety Performance World Ranking study. Its overall grade was superior--earning it a place among the top-tier countries.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, the agriculture minister was not done. When he was asked about the E. coli tainted beef recall, he said, “we've identified some anomalies in the XL Plant”. Anomalies? Really? Update for the minister: the plant is closed.

Why is the minister refusing to take responsibility and why is he minimizing the largest beef recall in Canadian history? Why is he speaking at luncheons and not answering Canadians in the House of Commons?

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 will reiterate that the health and safety of Canadians is a top priority for this government. It is important to note that the CFIA acted to contain contaminated products beginning on September 4, and has been acting ever since.

As the Prime Minister has stated, the XL plant is closed. CFIA closed the plant and it will not be allowed to reopen until the CFIA has certified that it is safe.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

October 3rd, 2012 / 2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the head of the inspection agency, which the Prime Minister is now using as his defence with respect to what is taking place, was talking about the question of what the standards for Canada were going to be with respect to E. coli content. He said, “I'm fairly confident we're going to have that as well, I just don't know what the number is going to be”.

If the agency does not know what the number is going to be, how can Canadians have confidence that Canada is going to have the highest standards in the world with respect to E. coli?

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 determines these things. It determines them based upon the best scientific information it has and also information it gathers from inspections and from documentation submitted by the various operations that it inspects.

We have confidence in that agency. As the parliamentary secretary just indicated, in international studies, it has been judged to be one of the best performing agencies in the world.

However, obviously we have been working through the Weatherill report and other recommendations to strengthen any deficiencies that we do find.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the latest public health data that I have seen says that Canada's rates for E. coli outbreak are 30% more than the United States and 40% more than Europe.

Given that fact, could the Prime Minister tell us why regulations under legislation with respect to the context of E. coli are not clearly set out in regulation, are not clearly set out in the law and are not clearly enforceable and, in fact, enforced by the agency that is responsible for protecting the health of Canadians?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, as I have said, these things are not determined by politicians. They are determined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the appropriate authorities, acting under the law.

Notwithstanding that there are problems to which the agency must respond from time to time, Canada's food safety record is among the best in the entire world.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State handed out by the Prime Minister to his cabinet ministers clearly states that ministers “must be present in Parliament to answer honestly and accurately about their areas of responsibility”.

We find that the agency is not the only one responsible. Indeed, the minister shares that responsibility with the agency, and the Prime Minister is also responsible for providing information to consumers.

Why are consumers always the last ones to be informed of problems?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is not true. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reacted beginning on September 4, based on the information at its disposal, to contain certain contaminated products. The agency has since taken action leading to the plant's closure. It has clearly stated that the plant will not reopen until its production is declared safe.

Treasury BoardOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, last year, the Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report on the government's fiscal transparency.

At the time, the President of the Treasury Board said, “So by next year, we will be able to have the answers in order to compare.” The time has come for that comparison.

The report released today reveals that less than one-third of departments have presented any details on the repercussions of the strategic review.

In short, the majority of departments failed the test. What does the minister have to say about that failure?

Treasury BoardOral 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, as I have said before in this place, we continue to report to Parliament, using the normal and usual methods. These include the estimates, the quarterly financial reports, the public accounts and the reports on plans and priorities. All of these are delivered to members opposite, to Parliament and to the Canadian public.

We are taking a principled approach to balance the budget. Our public debt is down. Our services to Canadians, such as OAS and health transfers are up, which is much more useful to balance the budget as counter-opposed to the opposition members who want to have a $21 billion carbon tax. That is not responsible.

Treasury BoardOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear here. The minister promised Parliament better disclosure, but he failed to deliver.

The PBO said that less than one-third of organizations had presented details on the impact of this year's budget, and the results of this year's budget cuts will not be presented to Canadians until the fall of 2014.

Why are Conservatives afraid to tell Canadians the truth? Are they hiding the information, or do they really just not know? Which is it, deception or mismanagement?

Treasury BoardOral 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

Neither, Mr. Speaker. In fact, as I indicated, and as the hon. member well knows, we have a reporting procedure in this Parliament. It involves quarterly reports. It involves the public accounts. It involves the estimates. As those reports are published, they provide the details that the hon. member is so keen about.

I would give some advice to the budget officer. He should spend his time worrying more about his mandate, which is about how we spend money not the money that we do not spend.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem with the Conservatives is that they have no idea what is going on in the different departments, or so it seems with this E. coli tainted meat crisis. The minister was incommunicado for several days while Canadians were looking for answers. The beef recall keeps expanding every day.

Why are the Conservatives refusing to take responsibility for this crisis and why did they wait so long to tell the truth?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, food safety and the health of Canadians are our government's priority. We have strengthened our system, no thanks to the opposition. As I was saying yesterday, we increased the number of inspectors to 700, but the opposition voted against that. If the opposition thinks that the CFIA's powers are inadequate, then it should support the bill our government has introduced to give the agency more powers.

The opposition has already said that it will vote against the legislation when it comes—

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are limits to shirking responsibility for what goes on in one's own department.

The United States discovered the problem on September 3, and yet the plant at the centre of all this remained open for another three weeks, until September 27. Thousands of Canadians were exposed to E. coli because of this unacceptable delayed reaction.

Why did it take 24 days to close a plant that was known to have such a problem?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, as I have been explaining, the CFIA acted to contain contaminated products beginning on September 4, and it has been acting ever since.

Our government has taken the responsibility to increase resources for the CFIA so it can better do its job. Every time we do that, the opposition votes against it.

In 2007 we made available $223 million for the food safety and consumer action plan, and the opposition voted against it; $13 million over two years to hire more inspectors in budget 2010, and the opposition voted against it; $100 million over five years for inspection modernization, and the opposition voted against it.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

François Pilon NDP Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have some nerve. The minister claimed that no tainted meat made its way onto grocery store shelves. We now know that was absolutely not true. At the height of the contamination crisis, the minister said that his priority was to deliver meat to the U.S.

Why did the Conservatives choose rhetoric over public safety? Why did they not act sooner?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the CFIA took measures to contain contaminated products beginning on September 4 and it has continued to work relentlessly on this matter.

Our food safety system has been rated as a superior food safety system. We now have legislation in the Senate to take a strong system and make it better.

I have a quote from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. It has said that Bill S-11 “will better equip Canada to maintain its reputation as a world leader in food safety and traceability protocols”.

The NDP have taken the ill-informed and desperate situation and have said “no” to this legislation before—

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.