Libby asks the Minister to take responsibility in the recent E.coli outbreak

House of Commons

HANSARD

October 5, 2012

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, on September 13 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency yanked XL's exporter licence at the request of U.S. officials. The minister of agriculture and his department determined that this meat was not safe enough to be sold to American consumers, yet he did not pull XL's Canadian licence for another 14 days.

Therefore, for 14 days the minister of agriculture allowed the same tainted meat that was not safe enough for Americans to be sold to Canadian families. Why?

Hon. Gerry Ritz (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from the member opposite. It gives me another chance to say that food safety is a priority for this government.

The CFIA began acting on September 4 and has continued to act based on science and information as it becomes available.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, the minister's response is again very short on the facts, so let us review those.

The minister said he was aware from day one of all of the activities, which means he knew about the broken safety equipment. That means he knew on September 6 that XL Foods was withholding critical data from government officials. It means he knew on September 13 that meat from XL was not safe enough for American consumers.

Why then did he withhold vital public health information from Canadians?

Hon. Gerry Ritz (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the CFIA, based on science and timely access to information, began operating on September 4 in the best interests of Canadian consumers. It continues to do that. The member opposite chooses to ignore that there is a timeline that has been well-published on the CFIA website that answers a lot of those questions.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was a watershed day for taking responsibility. First, the CFIA took responsibility for its part in this recall. Then XL took responsibility for the faulty operations at the plant. The only person with the infallibility complex who refuses to take responsibility is the minister of agriculture himself.

When will he apologize for his failure to keep Canadians informed and tender his resignation?

This Question Period Transcript was posted on October 5, 2012
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