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Results: 1 - 15 of 552
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you for the offer, Mr. Chair. I have my own line of questioning, so I'll pursue that.
Minister, I wanted to ask you a few questions about food safety. Just to round out what the report also said in addition to the recommendations, the expert panel of course recognizes that Canada has one of the best food safety systems in the world. It also notes that E. coli infections have been declining over the past decade, which I think is important, because Canada's population has been increasing. When I think of this in terms of Canada having a population of 34 million, we might be talking about 80 million meals prepared each and every day here in Canada. Yet, the incidence of E. coli contamination is decreasing. I think it's important to provide that information, because it's the same expert panel that's making those comments as well.
I do want to ask about resources for food safety, particularly with respect to inspectors and with respect to finances. I bring it up because it's oftentimes a criticism of the opposition—I think a misdirected criticism—about the number of resources CFIA has with which to conduct its important work.
Minister, could you share with the committee, with respect to front-line food inspectors and funding, what types of initiatives the government has done over these past seven years.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Minister.
Can I ask you what types of activities these inspection teams will be conducting? If a food inspector is a member of this inspection verification team, what will he or his team be doing when they show up at a plant unannounced?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Okay.
What authorities will the inspectors on the inspection verification teams have? Will they have the same authorities as the food inspectors already located at that plant? What kinds of activities could they undertake?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Minister, I wanted to ask you a question about the Safe Food for Canadians Act, which you presented to Parliament last year. Do you feel the act addresses some of the concerns mentioned in the report?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I wanted to mention this at the beginning of the meeting. The opposition had asked for the minister to appear in front of the committee. We have verified his schedule and he would be available next Thursday, June 6. He would be here for the first hour, and in the second hour we would have AAFC and CFIA.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
The minister can just come to the meeting. If the opposition has asked for the minister and he's available and it's in the proximity of estimates or supplementaries, we don't have a problem with that.
Is that what you mean?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Given that we don't know that information right now, I think we should invite him on the Thursday, as requested by Malcolm.
If the situation should change, then I think the committee can just will it that the minister come. His schedule is available and he would come anyway. I don't see this as being complicated.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, Chair.
Thank you for your excellent statements. Those were really informative statements, and they aligned nicely with what we heard at our last meeting. You have some really positive messages.
One of them, I think, is that farmers have a vested interest in the welfare of their animals. This is not always apparent in some of the articles we read, where the farmer is sometimes pitted against his or her own animals. That's just not the reality.
The other thing that was particularly interesting, Tina, was your presentation on science, and that science very much has a role to play here; that is, providing scientific data and feedback into the system to establish these standards.
You did raise a point about changes to the department in terms of government scientists, and it's true that the changes in the department will affect some government scientists, but what I can say is that we have tried to focus those changes in areas where industry can take a much stronger leadership role.
I will just give an example, regarding what Mike had said and what we heard from the Egg Farmers of Canada at our last meeting. There are very strong sectors here in Canada. They are part of clusters, or have cluster applications. There's a matching of 50-50 funding. We're still involved, of course, in the funding, but that industry takes the lead is quite appropriate, I think, and that they match government funding is quite appropriate too. Of course, we have other funding initiatives, like NFACC, as well.
So while it's true that government scientists are affected or will be affected by some of these changes, as I say, we have tried to focus them in areas where industry is well equipped to take on a stronger leadership role.
Let me just ask my first question about that.
Mike, I think you said animal welfare is in the top three priorities, for example, of what a cluster might do. Could you perhaps enlighten us on a few of the initiatives that the cluster would see as high priorities in terms of animal welfare?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Okay.
Let me follow that up with a question for Tina, I guess, who's involved in the science and research aspect of it.
You spoke a bit about outputs. In other words, scientists study from a scientific approach, and they provide data to, for example, a codes of practice organization who would develop codes of practice. But do you also get inputs from the industry?
In other words, would you have an interface with the cluster that would say, well, this is important to us, that is important to us, we'd like to know more about this, and we'd like to more about that, which then has some sort of input over where you and your fellow scientists would orient your research?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I'll answer them. As my colleagues know, Chair, I have all the answers.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Pierre Lemieux: First of all, thanks for being here.
I'm very glad that there was some discussion about the vested interest farmers have in the care of their animals. That's really important because sometimes this discussion gets polarized immediately, that somehow farmers are against animal welfare when in fact the animals, their livestock, particularly when it comes to birds, are their living. They very much have a vested interest in caring for their birds and livestock.
I do have a question about how your three organizations communicate with the public. For example, I know that the National Farm Animal Care Council exists, but I would bet that the average Canadian doesn't know that. I know many of the details that are contained in the table. For example, moving the birds off the ground reduces the incidence of mites and bone breakage. It removes feces because it just falls through the cage and is taken away for further processing.
When there are organizations or people who are very concerned about animal welfare, they may pick some isolated examples, but they move right into the public realm and they interface with the public on a very emotional level. You've got very well organized groups, and you definitely have communication tools at your disposal. Do you see value in your organizations also communicating directly with the public to counteract some of this?
I think there are two scenarios being painted for the public. One is being painted that somehow farmers aren't caring for their animals properly, and on the other side, there's not much.
Could you comment on that?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
There is, of course, messaging that you have to decide you want to communicate to the consumer.
Activist groups are talking to the consumer. The consumer is talking to the retailer but not necessarily with you. The retailer then makes a huge policy change that actually impacts your farmers, when in fact animal welfare is at the core of what you do, but it's just that it wasn't known, it wasn't defended, and now a big policy change has been driven through by your retailers.
I think plugging into retailers is good, but I'm concerned that the public is not hearing the good animal welfare story we have to tell, particularly here in Canada. Instead, they are hearing activist groups which are using isolated examples.
I think if we juxtaposed a number in terms of how many birds lay eggs in Canada every year against an isolated incident that is perhaps used by a group to promote what it is they want to get across, it would be way out of whack.
We have a good animal welfare story to tell, but I think it has to get out to the public because it's the public that they're targeting. Working with retailers is good, but I'm also encouraging working with the public.
Robin, could I quickly hear from you on that?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you to our witnesses for being here today and for participating in this study.
The committee realizes the importance of honeybees, which is why we are continuing our study on this. We had some witnesses last year, but we want to follow up on this, which is why we're having more meetings right now. Of course the reason we're studying the honeybee is because the humble bee plays such an important role within agriculture, not just producing honey but as we've been discussing, through pollination.
What I would like to do is first address my remarks to Clinton. You spoke very passionately about the honeybee and the national day of the honeybee. What I would like you to know is that every member at this committee table supports that initiative. We have in the past as well, and we have publicly done so.
What may not be so well known, though, and what I would like to explain is that when it comes to recognizing a national day of the honeybee, or of any other type of worthwhile endeavour, this has to be advanced by a member of Parliament in the House as a private member's bill. This is simply a well-accepted protocol. It's understood by all parties. All MPs understand that this is the protocol that is done to recognize a national day.
Just to give you an example, there was a national day to recognize philanthropists. I think that was advanced by a Liberal MP. There is a national day to recognize the works of John Paul II that's being advanced by another MP. These types of initiatives, although they're very worthwhile, need to be advanced by an MP using their private member's bill as an opportunity to do so.
So I just wanted to clarify that because that's not always well known.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
The committee can certainly do something here in committee, but to do something in the House and to actually have a formal national day of the honeybee at a national level, that will take an individual MP advancing such a cause as part of their private member's bill when their opportunity comes up.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
That's what I'm saying. I'm trying to dispel that myth.
The accepted protocol among all members of Parliament is that for a national day to be recognized nationally, a member of Parliament from whatever party has to say, “This is my private member's bill. I am moving forward with this private member's bill and I'm asking the House to debate it and to eventually vote on it.“ So there is a well-defined process and it's the private member's bill route that is used to put in place a national day.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
It's not just the government saying that it wants it, and it is done. That's not the way Parliament works and as I said, there is a well-accepted protocol among all the different MPs and the different parties that this is the way it is done. An MP advances a specific private member's bill.
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