House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was obesity.


Northwest Territories Devolution ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-15 on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North.

Bill C-15 basically has two parts. There is the part on devolution, giving more powers to the Northwest Territories. The second part is the changes to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. I want to speak to both parts, as well as to some of the concerns and the jubilant responses we have heard so far.

The NDP has been advocating for devolution for many years. It is very unfortunate that the Liberals, for many years when they were in government, failed to give more real power to local authorities so they could manage their own resources and their own affairs at the local level. The Liberals and the Conservatives have failed for many years to do that.

We can talk about treaties. The Conservatives, except for a few, have basically failed to negotiate any sort of treaty with the first nations. Businesses like to have certainty. We know that where there is disputed land, where aboriginal rights are not being looked after, the development of the land and making useful use of that land is hindered, as is economic development. The Conservative government has not taken any steps to resolve those treaty issues with the first nations.

Devolution is a good thing that we will support. This will allow local government to make good decisions at the provincial and territorial levels. I will talk about the second component in a second.

If we want to see a prosperous northern Canada, it is important for us to work with not only the Northwest Territories government and other governments, including the Yukon government, but we need to involve other stakeholders, to ensure that all of their concerns are taken into account.

Looking at the Conservative government's record, it is pretty clear that it usually fails to consult all of the relevant parties and stakeholders that would bring valuable information into the making of legislation and would have a positive impact for those stakeholders.

I spoke about this earlier, but the Conservative government, on the consultation part, should actually listen to people and act on some of those things that make sense. At the committee stage, which is where, after there are initial speeches in House, we go to hear some expert testimony. We hear from academics and stakeholders who will be directly impacted by the legislation being considered.

What happens at the committees? We hear from the experts, who offer very valuable information, so we can make some amendments. However, time after time, the opposition offers amendments, consults with stakeholders and the Conservatives, and I will use the words of the independent member for Edmonton—St. Albert, act like trained seals. The Conservative members are told by the PMO what to do, who is going to vote and how they are going to be voting. Even grammatical changes that are pointed out by opposition members are not considered. That is the record of the Conservative government in regard to consultation.

I have a letter here that I would like to get entered into the record. This letter was written by the K'atl'odeeche First Nation, based in the Hay River Dene reserve in the Northwest Territories. It was written to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

The KFN continues to have three main concerns about the proposed changes to the MVRMA. Basically, the three concerns that they have are about the dismantling of the regional land and water boards, and about the establishment of fixed time limits for environmental assessment and regulatory approvals, and they also have some concerns about increased ministerial authority.

We have seen a trend here, whether it is with immigration, public safety or the Minister of Justice. It is no different in this bill. What the government has tried to do over the years, including the two and a half years that I have been here, is constantly to provide ministerial powers, taking them away from boards and people who are out on the ground, who actually consult and who live at the local level. The Conservatives have a habit of bringing in legislation that brings more and power to Ottawa.

I have talked about this. I have talked about more and more power for Conservative ministers, individuals, to make choices. We need to make sure that power is with the people. People at the local level make the right decisions.

We also saw this with the bill on InSite. The government wants to bring that power to Ottawa so that ministers can make the decisions, when we should be making them in the community. Let the communities decide, where the experts and health care professionals reside. The police and the RCMP live there and deal with these things on a daily basis. However that is for another time.

I know that some of the members are not happy about this, but it is the truth. The Conservative government has been trying to centralize powers to individual ministers. We have seen the mistakes that could be made with those kinds of powers.

There are many other concerns and there are some good comments with regard to devolution. There are a number of stakeholders, people from the Northwest Territories, who have welcomed changes for more powers to the Northwest Territories. They have been waiting for 50 years.

I know that my friends in the corner over there talk about one thing when they are not in government: they will talk about the things we talk about. However, when it comes to being in government, they totally ignore those things. That is the Liberal record.

We know how the Conservatives have dragged their feet on a number of aboriginal issues, whether it is education, housing for first nations or getting treaties with first nations so we can bring certainty to, live in harmony with and provide education for young people living on reserves. Unfortunately, the Conservative record is very poor. Actually it is not poor; I do not even have a word for it. I think if I did, it would not be parliamentary, so I would not say it. The Conservatives have a very poor record and they have failed to deliver for our first nations.

Canadians expect us to work together with first nations so that they can have education and clean water. Unfortunately, the record of the Conservative government is not there.

I know I do not have much time here. The devolution of powers to the Northwest Territories is a good thing. I hope that the Conservatives will listen to some of the concerns coming in from the Northwest Territories and that we can make some amendments at the committee stage.

Northwest Territories Devolution ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member for Surrey North will have 10 minutes plus 10 minutes in questions and comments when the debate on this bill resumes.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 17 consideration of the motion.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, the motion speaks to obesity, which has become a national problem in Canada. It talks about the long-term health risks, which we all know, and it talks about supporting, promoting and funding organizations and individuals who are involved in the physical well-being of Canadians.

This is something that is motherhood, and we obviously support it.

However, I want to say that if we are going to talk about funding people and organizations involved in physical activity—because we know there are two things that can deal with obesity: one is obviously eating properly and eating well and the second is daily physical exercise—we need to have very clear standards for those organizations and very clear certification for the people who would be doing training or actually directing the physical activity programs, because this is not a case where someone can say, “I am fit and, therefore, I am capable of helping other people be fit”.

The whole concept of kinesiology, which is the art of exercise and how exercise works, is something that needs to be certificated. It is very important because an individual could be hurt by people if they give the wrong exercises to do, if we were to let just anybody hang out a shingle.

In principle, this is a very good idea. However, I think there need to be some very clear accountability structures, certification structures and training structures attached to something like this.

There is no one answer. We know that diet is one good way, how we eat, et cetera, and we know that physical activity is a second. Just dealing with physical activity and not dealing with the whole issue of how we eat and what we eat that tends to increase the amount of obesity, is something I wanted to talk about.

It would have been an interesting if the motion had in it the whole concept of food, how we eat and what we eat.

We know that many people in Canada today eat a lot of processed foods. With both adults in the family working, they are unable to come home and put a meal on the table as they used to in the old days. They bring home processed foods that they can quickly cook, foods that can be cooked in the microwave in five minutes, et cetera, and one of the reasons processed foods are a vehicle for eating poorly is that they contain high amounts of sodium and trans fats.

Now, the government has the ability to ensure—and has been advised since 2007 to do so by advisory panels—that we have the minimum levels of trans fats and sodium shown on the labels, because Canadians eat twice the normal sodium levels and there is a fair amount of foods that contain trans fats. It would be simple thing to mandate the industry. It is a great piece of health promotion and disease prevention. I understand the Minister of Health made a speech to the Canadian Medical Association in the summer, talking about the interest of the current government in health promotion and disease prevention.

This is like falling off a log. The health department wants to do this, the advisory committees to the minister have wanted to do it since 2007 and it still has not been done.

I would have liked to see both prongs dealt with.

There is a saying that for every problem there is a simple and neat solution. That is wrong. Simple and neat does not always answer the problems of complexity. Especially in disease and health, we know that complex factors create illness and complex factors create health.

However, we really have to be concerned. That is why we are supporting the principle of this particular motion. Children ages 2 to 17 in this country have an obesity rate of 26%, which is up from 15% in 1979; youth ages 12 to 17 have an even higher rate of 29%; and first nations' children have an obesity rate of 41%. We have all these children who will be growing up to be an adult generation with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and risk of stroke. We know that these children are not going to live as long as their parents. The whole idea of progress in health is to ensure that we have people in future generations who are going to live longer than we did.

This is a really sad indictment on what is happening in Canada. High cholesterol is a huge problem because of eating a lot of trans fats. These are some of the things we have to talk about.

What is most concerning, though, about the increasing rate of obesity in Canada, is that not just the rates are increasing but actually the type of obesity. We are finding more people with morbidly rated obesity, people who are so large that they are at imminent risk of getting disease. It is one thing to be 10 to 15 pounds overweight; it is one thing to say “I could lose up to 10% of my weight”. However, we are seeing morbidly obese people now, morbidly obese children. I know it is a combination of poor eating and lack of activity. Of course, we well know that progress has led us to this point where kids sit around and play computer games and watch TV and do everything except go outside and play.

We know that we have worked with the provinces to talk about one hour of quality physical activity in the schools every day. In 1980, I was chair of the council on health promotion and disease prevention of the British Columbia Medical Association. In 1980, we were asking for the Province of British Columbia to bring in one hour of quality daily physical activity to the schools. It only happened about five years ago, which is a long time, and that is a whole generation of people and kids who did not get the benefit of having that opportunity not to be obese.

We notice, for reasons we do not understand, that in the Atlantic provinces the obesity rates are higher than anywhere else in Canada. Obviously, in the north the obesity rates are higher than everywhere else in Canada because of the high populations of Inuit aboriginal people where we see 41% obesity in children.

We studied obesity in the parliamentary health committee about eight years ago. We came up with beautiful recommendations and nothing has happened. So there has to be political will. A very good friend of mine who is a public health physician asked me one day if I knew what is the biggest determinant of health. I asked what. He said the biggest determinant of health is political will. When there is not the political will to do the things that must be done to make Canadians healthy or to improve their health, it is not going to happen.

As I said, this is a good motion. One cannot not support the motion. It is a very supportable motion. However, it only deals with one problem. It deals with the physical activity problem and it does not deal with the problem that is in the government's grasp. There is no need for legislation. The Governor in Council can just say it is going to do this, that this is a policy and then mandate the levels of salt and trans fats in our foods. Let us educate. The Canada food guide goes out to parents. Parents often do not know how to interpret it. They have to go and read labels in the stores, and most of them do not understand what the labels are really saying because the labels say “x calories per”, and they do not know how many grams are in it and they have to do the math. People want simple labelling, so they can reach onto shelves and get the food they need for their children without looking at whether those children are going to be obese or be put at risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The problem here as well is a very real one in terms of the delivery of medicare. We know that obesity results in economic costs of approximately $7.1 billion a year. If we could halve that and take $3 billion to put into promotion and disease prevention at the front end of the health care system, just imagine what a difference that would make.

This is a motion that is supportable. I would have liked to see some teeth in it. I would have liked to see it come up with certification and ensuring that people who are going to be delivering kinesiology and exercise programs are qualified and know what they are doing. However, I find that I cannot not support this. I support the motion.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario


Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to my friend and colleague from Burlington's motion, which brings an important public health issue to the forefront of debate. The motion speaks to the important public health issue of obesity and the physical well-being of all Canadians. It is both timely and relevant.

Obesity levels among Canadians continue to be extremely high. The World Health Organization declared in 2011 that obesity is a global epidemic and it is facing us now. In Canada, the social and economic impacts of obesity are considerable.

Statistics show us that obesity accounts for losses totalling billions of dollars, but this does not tell the entire story. Obesity often leads to major chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so when we factor in the costs to our health and productivity, we see that the cost to our economy is far greater. We cannot ignore the significant human costs, such as reduced quality of life and social stigma, just to name two. If left unchecked, the economic and social impact of obesity will continue to grow with irreversible consequences for all Canadians.

As such, our government is acting. We brought in the children's fitness tax credit to encourage families to keep their kids active. Keeping with the theme in budget 2013, we eliminated tariffs on sports and athletic equipment. We are working with our partners to promote healthy weights for all Canadians. We fully support the motion and invite colleagues from all sides of the House to join us.

Our government is committed to continuing to do our part and working with our partners to curb obesity rates. I would like to expand on the partnership approach we are taking and the role we are playing.

There is no doubt that societal challenges like obesity rely on many to take action. Complex public health issues such as this one simply defy single solution approaches. No one government or institution alone can make the changes needed to curb obesity rates at a societal level. Solutions cannot be developed in isolation from the needs of communities and families.

There is also no doubt that federal leadership is an essential element of mobilizing all sectors of society around a common objective. Mobilizing all segments of society—communities, academia, the charitable and not-for-profit sector and the private sector—needs to happen too. The good news is that all governments and a growing number of other stakeholders in the private and public sectors agree that complementary and coordinated action is necessary.

The government's approach to supporting new ideas delivered in new ways with direct results for Canadians is rooted in the values we share as Canadians, working together for better health outcomes for all Canadians. Our approach allows partners to leverage knowledge, expertise, reach and resources. With this in mind, I would like to expand on several of the important aspects of our approach.

First, we are working in partnership with the private sector to leverage new resources and ideas, and to expand the reach of our programs. For example, the government has recently partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada and Sun Life Financial through a matched-dollar funding arrangement. This collaboration is expanding “Get BUSY!”, a program to increase physical activity and healthy eating opportunities for children and youth in community Boys and Girls Clubs.

The government has also partnered with LoyaltyOne to jointly support the Air Miles-YMCA physical activity program, an innovative, incentive-based program that is exploring new ways of getting Canadians active and keeping them active over the long term. In less than a year, we have leveraged over $2 million in private sector investment. This is a positive story from a taxpayer perspective.

Second, innovation is at the centre of our approach. Supporting and promoting new programs and models that are proven to be effective is the goal. We are not reinventing the wheel. We are challenging ourselves and others to innovate and adapt so that the models that have the greatest impact are available to Canadians.

To encourage our partners to work together, we also need to be a good partnership facilitator. Through the Public Health Agency of Canada, a redesigned approach to funding programs was recently launched. The agency is inviting eligible organizations to submit their ideas on effective ways to address obesity, promote healthy living and prevent chronic disease. These ideas are the foundation for partnership discussions, both with the agency and with others who may have submitted similar or complementary ideas. The continuous intake of partnership ideas allows us to be more responsive and support innovative interventions that are at a stage of readiness to make a difference. In other words, we are better able to strike while the iron is hot.

By joining the best ideas with the resources that are needed, we are confident that we will get at the root causes of obesity. Ultimately everyone's goal is to help Canadians overcome barriers to healthy living and prevent chronic disease. These aspects of our work showcase our leadership role and role as a catalyst for innovation. Indeed, since 2006, our government has invested nearly $200 million for obesity-related research.

Another important aspect of our approach relates to the ongoing commitment to accountability for the use of public funds. To achieve greater accountability for results, projects will only be considered where funding can be tied to the completion of measurable results. Performance expectations for each partnership are predetermined and milestones are established in advance.

Recognizing that investments in public health take time to achieve results, this ensures we support only those partnerships that aim to achieve long-term, lasting and, most important, effective results. It is also important to note that a key aspect of our approach involves supporting partnerships that use an integrated style to address common risk factors for obesity and other chronic diseases.

Every year in Canada 67% of all deaths are caused by four major chronic diseases: cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases. What is more, these diseases share common risk factors that, if addressed in an integrated way, can be mitigated.

Chronic diseases can be prevented and their onset delayed. In 2011, at a United Nations high-level meeting, Canada signed the “Political declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases” in which four common risk factors were identified for chronic disease.

These common risk factors include: physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol. This integrated approach to supporting innovative multi-sectoral partnerships allows us to bring a greater number of partners into the fold, partners whose expertise and knowledge can help us address a range of risk factors in an integrated way. The result is that our partnerships can do a better job at creating the conditions in communities to help make the healthier choice an easier choice. This builds on the work that our government has done to ensure that Canadians have access to the information they need to make healthy food choices for their families.

Our approach to creating innovative multi-sectoral partnerships is the right way to go. More importantly, it is showing great promise in rallying a broad range of partners whose responsibility or interest is to tackle obesity as a critical public health issue. As a result, this government is well placed in continuing to support, promote and fund organizations and individuals who are taking innovative approaches to promote the physical well-being of all Canadians. What is more, these partnerships are fostering social innovation and helping to keep the reduction of obesity on the public agenda as a health priority.

In conclusion, as we continue to move forward, we will continue our efforts to generate and leverage new resources, apply innovative approaches, remain focused on accountability and improve our success by addressing common risk factors for obesity. This is why my hon. friend from Burlington's motion, which is before us today, is so important and so timely. It reminds us that consistent innovation is required as we continue to fight obesity and improve health outcomes for all Canadians.

I would like to thank and congratulate my colleague, the member for Burlington, for bringing the motion forward.

Finally, I invite all members of the House to support this very important motion. I am thankful for the opportunity to speak today about the important issue of reducing obesity among Canadians.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the motion. I would like to thank the member for Burlington for bringing it forward. I do not think he will get much argument on the value or the intent of the motion.

I have listened to both of my colleagues speak to the issue and I would like to add my voice to this.

First, I would like to put my own thought process out there.

In my previous life as an actor, in building a character, one of the things that was very important in that process was justification for the things that were done. If I was moving from point A to point B, why would I do that? I bring this up because I think we need to look at why we are doing this. It is one thing to put a motion forward to say that we need to be aware of obesity, but it is another thing to say that we need to be aware of obesity and take certain steps to combat it.

I have been hearing much talk about activity, and yes, activity is hugely important in all health issues. For obesity, heart and stroke, whatever, activity is extremely important. However, there is one thing that was missed, which I will put on the table now and come back to. We have also talked about trans fats and salt, but nobody has mentioned the sugar content in food.

We have a situation where the prevalence of obesity has dramatically increased, especially in our young people. It has almost doubled in some cases and quadrupled in other cases. We have one in 10 children who are affected by obesity in one respect or another. Therefore, 10% of children will go on to be obese, not simply because of the fact that they are obese as children but because of the habits they adopt as children, which will follow them throughout their lives.

One child in 14 is getting one hour of physical activity a day. Once upon a time, we used to get up and go out to play, but now we get up and play on the Xbox and whatnot.

However, I will go back to the sugar factor. The risk factors for obesity include inadequate housing, social exclusion and various social influences. They create a situation where people, young and old, have to resort to fast food, microwavable foods, processed and prepared foods, as a means of putting food on the table.

I am type 2 diabetic. I was diagnosed in 1997. I have treated it on and off over the years. In the last few months I had some issues and I have effectively lost vision in my right eye due to diabetic retinopathy.

Sugar is in processed foods to the nth degree. Some people say it is addictive because one just cannot get enough. However, if there is one cause directly linked to diabetes, type 1 or type 2, it is the intake of sugar and the body's ability to process it. This is particularly a problem within certain socio-economic groups because of their reliance on prepared and processed foods.

In combatting obesity, activity is one of the things we need to encourage, but we also need to look at food intake. Government is not here to legislate what people should or should not eat, but what it can do is take a leadership role in ensuring that people are well informed as to what they are putting into their bodies. Yes, there are little squares on the sides of packets and so forth that inform us about caloric value, or what is in a bottle of juice or the food that we eat, but people do not always understand how to read those things. One thing we can do is create an environment where people can become informed about the value of the food being eaten.

It is said that four grams of sugar represents one sugar cube, which means a bottle of juice, which is said to be healthy, can have 42 grams of sugar in it. That is basically drinking 10 sugar cubes. People do not know this. They look at the calories, they look to see that there is no fat in it, they look to see that there might be a bit of protein in it, but they do not look for the sugar content. This is something that contributes to type 2 diabetes, in particular. This is something that hits the people living in the lower socio-economic world most directly, because in their world, where they have one or two jobs, both parents are working, kids are trying to get to school, parents want to get them in and out and they have to be fed, it is easier to give them $10 or $15 to go to McDonald's or keep a load of frozen dinners in the fridge.

First, we need to take a leadership role in informing people about the food they are eating. Second, we need to take a leadership role in mandating that companies that make processed food clearly identify what is in their food in such a way that it can help parents make the proper choices for their kids. Activity and food intake is important and understanding what we are putting into our bodies is important. Those are the first few steps in combatting obesity: better awareness of what we are doing; better awareness of the properties in food; and better awareness of what is available to people.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Mississauga—Brampton South Ontario


Eve Adams ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed my pleasure to stand today to speak in support of the motion before us, which was introduced by my wonderful colleague, the hon. member for Burlington.

The motion encourages our government to recognize the health risks and the cost of obesity; to support, promote, and fund organizations and individuals who are involved in the physical well-being of Canadians; and to make the reduction of obesity among Canadians a public health priority. I could not concur more.

Just as the hon. member on the other side of the House has spoken very eloquently on how he is battling diabetes, I think it is fairly well known that my family has been troubled by diabetes. My father passed away almost 20 years ago to this day from complications from diabetes. His legs were amputated three times. He had profound gangrene. He had a pacemaker. The fact that he simply did not take his diabetes seriously is really what we believe terminated his life in the end.

We know that addressing obesity is critical to supporting the health of Canadians. Rates of obesity have increased significantly in the past 25 years. Our Conservative government has acted in the face of this distinct challenge. For instance, we introduced the fitness credit for children, making it easier and more affordable for kids to go out and play and stay active. We built on this success further in budget 2013 through our elimination of tariffs on sports and athletic equipment.

Despite all of this good work, the motion before us recognizes that there is no quick fix. To achieve change, all sectors in our society must work together.

Obesity puts Canadians at greater risk of having chronic diseases, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer. Three out of five Canadians live with a chronic disease.

We also know that in addition to the significant personal burden of living with obesity, it is an important driver of health care expenses and lost productivity. Supporting health promotion and disease prevention efforts, as this motion does, would contribute to the health and well-being of Canadians and to the sustainability of the health care system.

This motion before us provides an opportunity to reaffirm our government's commitment to advance tangible actions aimed at encouraging healthy weight.

It is well known to my colleagues that obesity is complex. As such, it requires thoughtful solutions. Moreover, there are multiple factors that contribute to obesity. Today I would like to draw attention to the components of the motion that address healthy eating and improving the well-being of Canadians.

A key aspect of promoting healthy weight is helping Canadians make healthy food choices and improving access to healthy foods.

As a proud mom to a wonderful little eight-year-old boy named Jeffrey, I can say that it is quite a challenge to stay informed about healthy food choices and also to lovingly encourage my child to make those healthy food choices.

Communities need support to increase access to healthy foods for Canadian families. Healthy eating is fundamental to good health and healthy weights. It is necessary across one's lifespan, from prenatal and early childhood years to later life stages.

Healthy eating is equally important in reducing the risk of developing many chronic diseases. A poor diet is a known factor in increasing some cancers, as I mentioned, in heart disease and in type 2 diabetes. It influences body weight and can put Canadians at risk for obesity. That is why our government is working to make healthy eating an easier choice for Canadians. It is an important element of this government's broader chronic disease prevention and health promotion initiatives.

We know that this can be achieved through collective action with partners, including our provincial and territorial colleagues. In 2010, federal, provincial, and territorial governments endorsed the Declaration on Prevention and Promotion, declaring disease prevention a priority and health promotion a hallmark of our health system in Canada. Governments have also committed to advance, as a tangible first step, “Curbing Childhood Obesity: A Federal, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights”.

These are important initiatives that in partnership with other sectors will create the conditions for good health and support individuals in adopting healthy lifestyles. Under these initiatives, specific actions are highlighted to support healthy eating, such as providing high-quality nutrition information and tools to Canadians, supporting families and their communities by making healthy foods more accessible, and investing in research to discover and implement new and effective ways to improve health. Together these actions, as supported through this motion, are helping to create a comprehensive approach to healthy eating, obesity reduction, and the prevention of chronic disease.

Our government is also pleased to be supporting the healthy eating awareness and education initiative. This initiative helps improve consumers' understanding of nutritional information to support them in making healthier food choices. As an example of working together, through this initiative we collaborate with provincial and territorial organizations, the food industry, and not-for-profit organizations to help Canadians understand and use the nutritional facts panel on the back of packaged foods.

We are doing even more. In March 2013, we extended the reach of this campaign by launching the Eat Well Campaign. In many grocery stores across Canada, people will see healthy eating messages. This is a partnership with the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, Food and Consumer Products of Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Dieticians of Canada, and other organizations. It helps parents and children to be better informed about healthier eating habits.

Our government also develops and promotes “Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide” and its complementary, culturally tailored partner “Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide—First Nations, Inuit and Métis”. It is a very popular guide for Canadians that provides evidence-based information about how much food Canadians need and what types of foods are better, and it emphasizes the importance of physical activity.

We are also committed to supporting families and investing in communities. That starts with moms and dads. We are providing funding to organizations and individuals to develop and implement community-driven approaches to support healthy eating and healthy living.

One of the key areas of focus in our community-based programs is healthy living efforts in northern and aboriginal communities, including work to improve the accessibility of nutritious foods. Through Nutrition North Canada, we increase the supply and reduce the cost of nutritious food in remote communities across Canada's north. Subsidies are provided to retailers to bring in nutritious perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, milk, and eggs at a lower cost. Traditional foods are also featured prominently in the Nutrition North Canada program. This is important as foods like Arctic char, muskox, and caribou are important sources of nutrients and play a key role in northerners' diets and culture.

Education is also a key component of Nutrition North Canada. Activities like cooking classes, in-store taste tests, and meal planning can increase cooking skills and the consumption of healthy food. Anything that we do to make things easier is obviously going to achieve greater results.

We are proud of our community-led planning for growing, harvesting, and preparing healthy foods. That is part of this health promotion initiative. In addition, Aboriginal Head Start is an important program that helps children have the healthiest possible start in life. This program provides meals, snacks and nutrition advice while helping to address the developmental needs of first nations children.

Our government is also committed to helping other vulnerable families. Our investment in the Canada prenatal nutrition program provides support to improve the health and well-being of pregnant women, new moms, and babies facing challenging life circumstances.

As well, the Public Health Agency of Canada's innovation strategy is funding a focus on addressing the underlying social and economic conditions that affect healthy weights.

I think members will agree that our Conservative government is very focused on providing healthy eating options for our families and on fighting obesity.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the motion on preventing obesity. I also wish to commend the hon. member for Burlington, who moved the motion.

I will take a moment to read the motion, so that my constituents can understand the context. It reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should continue to: (a) recognize the long-term health risks and costs of obesity in Canada; (b) support, promote and fund organizations and individuals who are involved in the physical well-being of Canadians; and (c) make the reduction of obesity of Canadians a public health priority.

I am very happy to read that, and I will definitely be supporting this motion. However, once again, the Conservatives are bringing forward a motion without any real teeth.

I would like to talk about the meaningful action the NDP has taken on this. The NDP has been working on this for the past 10 years or so. I would like to share some alarming figures I came across in my research on this.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, between 25% and 35% of Canadians are obese. Among children under the age of 17, about 10% are obese. The annual health-related cost is between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion. I find those figures and this situation very troubling.

I will explain what the NDP has been doing. It all started in 2004, when the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre moved a private member's motion to regulate trans fats in food. The House unanimously adopted the motion. Since then, the government has done nothing tangible with it. It has not proposed any measures.

In 2011, the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre introduced Bill C-303, to amend the Food and Drugs Act in order to limit trans fats in food to a maximum of 2 g per 100 g.

The hon. member for Vancouver East introduced Bill C-460, An Act respecting the implementation of the Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada.

Roughly three weeks ago, the minister appeared before the Standing Committee on Health. I asked him the same questions. I asked him why Canada still did not have any measures to deal with trans fats. Canada does not have a national sodium reduction strategy.

I have been listening very carefully to all the speeches in the House today. The Conservatives keep talking more about physical activity than about food, which I think is too bad. Physical activity is very important, but what we eat accounts for 80% of our physical health, while exercise accounts for 20%.

This brings me to my story. The reason I wanted to speak to this bill is that I am obese. In fact, I recently found out that I am morbidly obese. The alarming thing is that roughly 75% of all obese children will remain obese for the rest of their lives. They will be obese in adulthood.

By the way, my colleague is not listening to me even though he is here in the House and this is his bill.

According to my calculations, in this House there are 40 or so obese people out of a total of 300 MPs. Despite that, the member who introduced the bill did not even take the time to consult us. I think that is a shame.

The Conservative member for Ottawa—Orléans moved Motion No. 319 to combat childhood obesity, but nothing tangible has been done. For the past hour or so, the Conservatives have been saying that their greatest achievement is the children's fitness tax credit. Parents who spend $500 to register their children for physical activity can receive a $75 tax credit per child.

I want to talk about myself some more. As my colleagues know, I have a weight problem. When I was young, I did not play any team sports. When you are big, you feel bad about yourself. It is not pleasant. Many people are bullied because of their size. When I was young, I was always picked last during gym class. I was not even able to run two kilometres when the teacher asked us to.

The Conservatives say that they are helping youth by encouraging them to get involved in sports. However, there is more to the issue than that.

The parliamentary secretary told us about his father, yet I do not think that the Conservatives really understand the situation.

Nothing in the motion I have here talks about the psychological effects of being obese. There is nothing in the motion about going to speak to youth, motivating them and helping them overcome this problem. There is nothing about giving parents the tools to help their children.

Nutrition is extremely important. It is all well and good to talk about labelling, but nothing is being done to reduce sodium or trans fats. Not everyone at the grocery store reads the little labels to see what is in their food. When I asked the minister about that, she said that we could not coddle people. This is a serious issue right now, and if we do not give those people real help, we will not solve the problem. In Canada today, there are 40% more obese people than there were 30 years ago, and that number is on the rise.

Obviously, I am going to support my colleague's motion, but I would really prefer that the member not introduce it by saying that 25% of people in his riding are obese, so the government is going to do a little something and talk about it without really implementing any practical measures. I would like this motion to go farther.

Unfortunately, all too often, the Conservatives focus on a cure rather than prevention. That is what we have seen from the beginning. Since I have been here, the government has always talked about cures. The Conservatives think that they can talk about obesity and people will miraculously lose 100 pounds. That is the feeling I get from this motion.

I wanted to talk about bullying. I have been an MP for two and a half years and not a week goes by that I do not receive an email from a constituent telling me that I am too fat to be an MP. A few months ago, someone wrote to me and told me that MPs are supposed to be models. That person added that I was about 300 pounds too heavy and that I should resign.

When someone says that to me, I certainly do not say to myself that he is right and that this morning I am going to look at the nutrition labels to keep him happy.

This motion is important. We need to take it extremely seriously. I really hope that, as a result of this motion, the Conservatives will actually implement measures to reduce obesity in our society. This is a problem I have struggled with my whole life. I struggled with it when I was young and I am still struggling with it. There is a reporter here every week talking about what the MPs are wearing. That is another thing. It is a lot more expensive to buy clothing when you are overweight. People do not realize the extent of the problem.

Since I see him every day, I would have been pleased if the member had come to ask me what I thought about his motion, whether it was good, whether it was missing anything, what could be done, and so on. We could have worked together for once.

I will stop there and end by saying that I hope that the Conservatives will not think only about sports, which are important, but also about nutrition, because I do not see them making much progress in that regard. I hope that they will also think about the impact that this has on people's lives. If we do not act now and if the Conservatives fail to make progress in this area, this problem will result in huge health costs and will have a serious impact on the motivation and self-esteem of people struggling with it.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I have to acknowledge the excellent speech by my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. I sincerely thank her. She showed that obesity is a tragedy that affects people every day.

Obesity influences not just people's physical health but also their mental health. I am proud of my colleague. She has held her head high in this chamber to talk to us openly about her own experience.

I represent the riding of LaSalle—Émard, which is next to the riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. Montreal's public health branch recently conducted a study that revealed that there are so-called food deserts on the Island of Montreal, particularly on the West Island of Montreal.

These deserts exist across Canada and are places where there is not a grocery store every 500 metres. People who live there cannot access a grocery store without the use of a car or public transit. Therefore, people do not have access to healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.

There are food deserts in my riding. In these areas, access to fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables is limited. Access to public transit is often inadequate and these are generally poor areas. Therefore, people who do not have cars often have to shop at corner stores, which only sell foods that cause obesity.

Fortunately, we have community organizations such as the Maison d'entraide St-Paul et Émard and the Table de développement social de LaSalle . During the summer, these organizations run a small public market where people can buy affordable fruits and vegetables, as well as arranging community kitchens and outreach activities. I am taking this opportunity in the House to recognize their work.

There are also Nutri-Centre and Pro-Vert, which organize a community garden. People can grow fruit and vegetables and then regularly take part in a community kitchen and a meal. I commend these organizations that fight against obesity in their own way.

I would also like to recognize the member for Burlington's hard work on Motion No. 425. We support this motion because the health of Canadians has always been a priority for the NDP.

Our members have worked tirelessly for over 10 years to present initiatives with a view to taking meaningful action to tackle obesity in our communities. We have proposed tangible strategies to restrict certain factors that lead to rising rates of obesity. We have discussed various initiatives, particularly with regard to food.

We must not give up. Obesity is increasing in Canada and, moreover, it is also linked to the economy.

Some people either cannot afford to buy a grocery basket of healthy foods or simply do not have access to places where these foods are sold. We must not ignore the economic aspect of this rising rate of obesity. We must fight this scourge by continuing to combat poverty and providing access to healthy foods.

We must also encourage community organizations such as the Maison d'entraide St-Paul et Émard, the Table de développement social de LaSalle, Nutri-Centre, Pro-Vert Sud-Ouest and other community organizations that work so hard to ensure that people in all areas have access to healthy foods.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member for Burlington will have five minutes for reply.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to my motion, Motion No. 425, in the last couple of minutes. Hopefully, I will not take all my five minutes.

I would like to thank each and every one of my fellow parliamentarians who spoke on the issue. I heard some comments about how the motion did not go far enough and how it did not have enough teeth in terms of what the solutions were. To be frank, I do not have the solutions.

I appreciate the presentation this evening by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, who also made the point that there could have been more in this motion. However, the fact is, in a very personal presentation on the issue of what this motion would deal with in obesity, I really appreciate the efforts the member made in being here and speaking to the issue.

I brought forward this issue in because of a personal matter. Coming to Ottawa, I gained 30 or maybe 40 pounds. I was not eating healthily. I was participating in all the receptions that go on around here. I was diagnosed with diabetes, as I said in my first speech.

At the time of my first hour, I had two grandmothers who were 96. One passed away between this speech and the last, but we have long life in my family. I thought I was invincible, but none of us are.

The purpose of the motion was to get into a conversation and continue it on all sides of the House about what we needed to do about the issue of obesity and health. For me, physical activity is only one component. I agree with everyone's comments that physical activity is only one component of solving this issue. It is an area where I happen to be able to run marathons and take up running. I have been able to accomplish and challenge myself and to overcome some of my difficulties with obesity and being overweight using physical fitness and better eating habits.

I am encouraging the government to continue to work on this, make it a priority for public health and continue to work with organizations and other government levels to make it happen at all levels. We cannot provide every program federally. We need support from community groups, from other political levels and from other governments to make things happen.

I would appreciate everyone supporting the motion. I hope we continue this conversation after the motion is hopefully passed. The issue of obesity in our children and our health is not just important for individuals; it is also important for their families and for our health care system. I would appreciate everyone's support.

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

It being 6:30 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

ObesityPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


ObesityPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

International CooperationAdjournment Motion

6:25 p.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this debate is a follow-up to the question I asked in the House on October 23, when we learned that the CEO of Rio Tinto Alcan was advising the government about the merger of what was formerly CIDA with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

I want to begin my brief speech by being very clear. I have nothing against trade; however, it is just one aspect of international relations. Peace, security, our partnerships with various countries, good governance, development and human rights are also important aspects of our country's global interests. Unfortunately, the Conservatives' ridiculously narrow approach to international relations will hurt Canada in the short and medium terms. Our reputation is already suffering. Our traditional and potential partners are looking at us with increasing doubt and skepticism.

Last week, we saw this narrow approach in the announcement that all of Canada's diplomatic resources would now be devoted to trade. It is as though expanding trade did not also require peace, stability and development, to name just a few factors. It is as though we did not already have excellent trade officers. During my career, I have had the pleasure of working with many trade officers. They are extraordinary people. They do fantastic work. It is their mandate and they are paid for that.

We have seen this narrow approach, which sometimes turns into magical thinking, in a new direction for our development programs. This is a direction that has been in effect for some time now and it is troubling, to say the least. For example, when I hear the former minister of international development say that the purpose of Canada's international co-operation is to open up markets for Canada, I wonder. I wonder whether he knows Canadian law, because the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act is very clear. It says that Canada's approach to official development assistance is to focus on poverty reduction, take into account the perspectives of the poor and be consistent with international human rights standards.

The government is turning the entire process on its head. Rather than assessing development needs and determining how we might use private enterprises, corporations, civil society organizations or others to meet those needs, the government is focusing on the needs of industry and thinking that this will automatically affect the poor. The law is very clear: we must take into account the perspectives of the poor. However, the government is providing more assistance to countries where we have commercial interests and it is no longer providing assistance to countries like Niger.

After allowing the gun lobby to dictate our policy on the arms trade, are the Conservatives going to allow the mining industry to determine our foreign aid policy?

International CooperationAdjournment Motion

6:30 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario


Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me this opportunity to respond to the question from the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Private sector companies have a vital role to play in advancing Canada's global development objectives. In fact, the question that the member opposite should be asking is not whether we should be engaging with the private sector, but instead how—how can Canada's partnership with the private sector yield the best possible results for the world's poor?

Kyle Matthews is senior deputy director of the Will to Intervene project at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University. He had this to say, reported on November 2 by the Ottawa Citizen:

...we cannot exclude the private sector. The Canadian aid “shake up” is an opportunity to innovate and modernize....

...Canada can open up a space that will allow a whole new generation of international development practitioners and organizations to emerge and strengthen our aid program.

The simple fact of the matter is this: few other sectors are as well equipped to create the sustainable economic growth required to help people go from dependency to self-sufficiency.

Meaningful jobs, better education and training and improved health and nutrition for mothers and children can all lead to an increased likelihood of overcoming poverty. These are all increasingly attainable when the private sector is better connected to global development efforts.

These are not new conclusions. Just last summer, the President of Guinea wrote in an open letter that the future will, for his country, among other things, “ built on healthy partnerships between government and the private sector...”.

The ever-popular humanitarian and musician Bono agrees: “Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid”.

The same idea applies in other developing countries, many of them where Canada has a strong development presence and where investments from Canadian private industry can make an incredible difference. We must capitalize on that.

With weak domestic private sectors and insufficient tools and policies in place to encourage private sector-led economic growth, many developing countries are losing out on the opportunities that a robust private sector can create. It does not have to be this way.

However, to counter these missed opportunities, to get the best results for the world's poor and vulnerable, we must approach development from a new angle. This means engaging all possible actors to capitalize on the expertise each brings to the table.

Our government's partnership with the private sector has already had positive results for many around the world. For example, our government works along with Teck and the Micronutrient Initiative to support the Zinc Alliance for Child Health. This partnership supports the development of zinc treatment programs to improve nutrition and help save children's lives.

Our government also works with World Vision Canada and Barrick Gold via the Building Collaboration for Sustainable Economic Growth in Peru project, to increase income and standards of living of families working within mining operations.

This will ultimately help to strengthen the new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. Most important, it will help to better define the role that Canada's private sector can and must play to advance Canadian development objectives abroad.

International CooperationAdjournment Motion

6:35 p.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague says that we cannot ignore the private sector. Clearly, that is true. She asked rhetorically how we can use the private sector better. The answer is to start from the needs and the perspectives of those most disadvantaged, and besides, that is what the law says.

However, that is not what this government is doing. This government said publicly that the goal was not to meet the needs of the least fortunate and raise them out of poverty, but rather to open new markets for Canadian businesses. I would remind the House that that is the role of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

There is also the wishful thinking whereby economic growth will automatically help the least fortunate. First of all, I have to wonder why the government is not working on economic growth in countries like Niger, as in the example I gave.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that if countries do not have good governance and an effective tax system, that will not necessarily help the least fortunate.

International CooperationAdjournment Motion

6:35 p.m.


Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we have covered much of the ground my colleague states. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight our government's swift and effective response to the recent disaster in the Philippines brought on by the horrific typhoon.

Canada is the fourth largest contributor to this effort and has been congratulated by the member opposite, who had this to say:

Listen, we are pleased with the government's response, the rather quick response of the department, and today's additional announcement.

The member's colleague from Davenport was also impressed with our response. He said that he thinks this is the right move on the part of the government, that these are the right ways to go, and that they encourage Canadians to take advantage of the matching commitment of the federal government and to donate to charities that are working very hard to get aid on the ground in the Philippines.

Before I finish, I would be remiss if I did not highlight that yesterday I was in Washington at the Global Fund replenishment conference, where Canada announced $650 million to the Global Fund replenishment. We know that the fund is doing very good work. It is working with many of our partners internationally. We congratulate them on that.

Sealing IndustryAdjournment Motion

6:40 p.m.


Jean-François Fortin Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about the seal products ban imposed by the European Union.

The World Trade Organization found that the ban was justified on ethical and moral grounds, despite the fact that it violates the basic rules of international trade. Basing the ban of a sustainable, abundant and well-managed natural resource on moral or ethical grounds may now lead to all kinds of abuse in trading practices.

Although the Bloc Québécois welcomes the government's upcoming legal challenge of the WTO ruling, the fact is that the problem goes far beyond the legal issues.

Indeed, the blatant misinformation about the seal hunt plays a key role in this economic conflict. The real problem, which the government must tackle now, without waiting for a legal process, is how European countries perceive the seal hunt.

In 2009, a Bloc Québécois motion in support of the sealing industry was adopted unanimously. At that time, we called on the government to actively promote seal products, which was vital for the future.

Today, it is clear that that did not happen and that it was not enough. Since the motion was adopted, the perception of the seal hunt remains the main obstacle for the affected communities.

The seal hunt is just as regulated as any other slaughter activity, and it is practised responsibly and sustainably by the people in our communities.

This modest sector of the economy, which is still significant for many communities, is fully legal and is necessary for the long-term vitality of small communities and coastal economies.

In light of that, the government must launch legal proceedings and a large-scale diplomatic offensive to show the European Union the true nature of the seal hunt.

A number of European animal rights groups are still using the image of a baby seal to engage the public and the parties involved. I am sure my colleagues would agree that this is a disingenuous tactic, given that it has been illegal to hunt baby seals for more than 20 years.

It is time for the government to set the record straight and stop allowing other countries to sensationalize the issue.

According to Jean-Claude Brêthes, a professor at the Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski, the seal hunt is necessary to maintain an ecological balance. Environmental groups, such as Nature Québec, have also carefully examined the situation and concluded that the seal hunt plays a critical role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

The government must take decisive action to enhance the reputation of the seal hunt around the world, and more specifically within the European Union, so that the communities that rely on this type of hunting can get their fair share.

Will the government therefore commit to working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the industry to organize an awareness tour, during which a delegation of stakeholders, including seal hunters, environmental groups and scientists, would talk about why the seal hunt is a good thing?

If we get industry stakeholders involved, the European Parliament would understand the reality of the seal hunt and be able to see what a significant impact the hunt has on communities and animal rights, and also how important it is to our environment and economy.

Sealing IndustryAdjournment Motion

6:40 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.


Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share our government's perspective on the decision of the World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel on the matter of Canada's and Norway's challenge of the European Union's unjust seal products ban. I use the word “unjust” to describe this ban because it is not based on knowledge and science, but on the misrepresentations of animal rights groups that use provocative and deceptive images to inflame the emotions of good-hearted people. I think we largely agree on this issue.

The European Union's decision was based on a misread of the facts. This ban is without just cause, in our opinion, and we continue to believe that it is contrary to international trade laws. The Prime Minister has been clear that the Government of Canada will continue to defend sealers' access to markets vigorously and will take whatever trade action is necessary.

This ban has struck a blow to sealers in the north, in Quebec and on the east coast, their families, and to Canada as a whole. Our government has taken decisive action in defence of Canadian sealers in light of the European Union's very discouraging ban on seal products. Our government has made repeated and unrelenting efforts to impress upon the EU and its member states the value of the seal hunt to Canadians.

We have voiced our commitment to a responsible management of the hunt that prioritizes sustainability and animal welfare. We are committed to taking this measure to the World Trade Organization because we believe that this measure is contrary to WTO rules, and we were proven right. The members of the panel said that the measure is discriminatory, but, and this is a big “but”, the panel also said that although it was a violation of the EU's trade obligations, the measure was not more trade restrictive than necessary and that the EU has the right to ban seal products on moral grounds.

What does “moral grounds” mean? It means that the WTO has accepted the EU's position unreservedly, without subjecting its assertions to any kind of critical analysis, and has completely ignored several of Canada's key arguments. I can assure the hon. member that our government will be appealing this most unfortunate decision. It is an unfortunate decision, because it opens the way for any country to institute any kind of trade-restrictive measure based on so-called public morality. We will be working closely with our co-complainant, Norway, in advance of the January 24 filing deadline.

We have employed a whole-of-government approach to defend Canadian interests. The Minister of International Trade has very ably taken the reins on the trade side of the issue, and DFO has led the way in defending the hunt against misinformed accusations and attacks from animal rights groups. Our information has been confirmed by independent experts, yet the European Union instead favoured the animal rights groups' misinformation. The inflammatory publicity campaigns organized by these groups have been relentless, and are supported with seemingly unlimited funds. Their short-sighted position will result in serious consequences, notably for other similar hunting activities in the EU and elsewhere.

I have attempted to paint a picture of commitment and of a steadfast determination to defend this country's sealing industry. We have made every effort possible to counteract destructive publicity and this senseless ban. Our government recognizes the negative impact this ban has on sealing communities in Atlantic Canada and in the north. We are standing up in defence of Canadian sealers' right to earn a living, and we will continue to do so.

Sealing IndustryAdjournment Motion

6:45 p.m.


Jean-François Fortin Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for his speech.

I am very pleased to see that, in addition to the legal action that must be taken in such circumstances, the government is doing diplomatic work and work to raise awareness in order to change perceptions.

Although this ban is not legitimate and we know it, the government still has a responsibility to coastal communities. As a result, it must do more than take legal action. It must launch an effective diplomatic offensive in order to set the record straight.

A great deal of information was released to the parliamentarians in the European community and the people who had to analyze the Canadian seal hunt. However, some of that information was incorrect. Some of it was outdated, and the images used did not at all reflect what happens during the hunt.

I urge the government to do more than just talk, to go beyond its legal strategy and to immediately introduce a real and tangible diplomatic strategy to change perceptions.

Sealing IndustryAdjournment Motion

6:50 p.m.


Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me be clear. We are certainly going well beyond rhetoric in many different ways. The first way is that our government will be appealing the ruling of the World Trade Organization on Canada's challenge of the European Union seal products ban.

Defending the sealing industry has been a priority since the notion of a ban on seal products by the European Union first arose. The Canadian seal harvest is demonstrably sustainable and humane, as all truly independent observers agree.

Together with industry, we have worked to strengthen the regulation and monitoring of the harvest and professionalized harvesters through a training program. In fact, processors now refuse to buy from sealers who have not been trained.

Make no mistake, despite the claims of animal rights groups, there is a demand for seal products, at least when access to markets is not blocked by discriminatory trade bans.

We are going to continue working on this and defending our sealing industry.

Sealing IndustryAdjournment Motion

6:50 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:51 p.m.)