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Results: 1 - 15 of 136
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thanks very much, Chair.
Thank you to our witnesses for being here today.
I would like to clarify one thing on the food processing side.
Mr. Johnston, you feel there is very little agricultural support for food processors. I want to at least make my colleagues aware that under AgriFlexibility, we announced $50 million for the agrifood processing sector. It's available up to 2014. To date $20 million of that $50 million has been allocated through 35 agreements. If we go with the numbers that were presented with the proposals, it should be creating over 550 jobs.
I know there have been other investments too. For example, there is Food Beverage Canada, Alberta's technology institute—I think you mentioned that—and other initiatives like that to help the food processing sector.
It is an important sector. I think it's a sector that's in high demand. As life becomes busier, Canadians have a desire for processed foods. When our food processors are presenting their products, I know they're trying to do it in a way that will be of true benefit to Canadians, a way that is nutritious and well presented, so that they become a natural choice by Canadians.
I want to ask a few things. First, when I think of processed foods, there is a wide scale. At the lower end, I would say there is taking fresh garlic, mincing it up, and putting it in a vacuum-packed jar. That's food that's been processed to some extent. Then I'm thinking of the other end perhaps, where you can have a whole meal presented to a consumer.
When you're thinking of the food processing sector in general, I'm sure you would span that spectrum as well, but where is the preponderance, I suppose, of the food processing industry?
As well, where is the growth within the sector? What are Canadians looking for?
I know that when I am in grocery stores, I see products changing. I see new products that weren't there before and I see old products that are being presented in a different way, with newer packaging and different attributes. I'm assuming that's what Canadians are wanting and willing to choose.
I wonder if you could share your thoughts with the committee about where the growth is within the sector, and how the sector is meeting that.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Do you know if your clients use, for example, funding that might be available through Western Economic Diversification? These are agencies that are meant to promote economic growth, and all these food processors are businesses. They need new equipment, they need to hire new employees, they need to grow and expand into other markets. There is economic development funding available that's not necessarily agriculturally base, and I'm wondering if your clients take advantage of that.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
As do tax cuts, right? As an example, there are general business tax cuts that agriprocessors benefit from when they're buying new capital equipment.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I guess that's where I see AgriFlexibility or WD. There are economic development programs they can apply to for funding to help them with that kind of expansion.
The Chair: Pierre, you're—
Mr. Pierre Lemieux: Thank you, Chair.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I'm sorry, Chair, may I just raise a point of order?
With due respect to our witnesses, we're in the process of studying Growing Forward 2 and consumer demand. I know the committee in the past has had difficulty sometimes with having witnesses stick to the subject matter, so within the framework of Growing Forward 2.... We had the same problem at the last meeting, which Jean raised. It's easy for the committee to get off topic.
I think it's very important for witnesses to focus their remarks. That's why we're paying to have them come here in front of committee. That's why they're getting time in front of committee. We're trying to write a report that's going to deal with Growing Forward 2—the next iteration, of course, of the Growing Forward plan that's in place right now. There have been a number of witnesses who have their own message to deliver to committee. That's fine. I'm just not convinced that this is the right venue or the right time.
I just want to raise that. I've allowed the witnesses to make their presentations, but I don't feel it's a good use of the committee's time when we're trying to focus on a particular report. I think there is always latitude during discussion whereby MPs might want to explore different aspects, perhaps, with a witness who is in front of committee, but when they are coming to give their presentation I think it's important that they remain focused on what the committee is trying to accomplish, because we're the ones who launched the study in the first place.
Thank you, Chair.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I think that's my point. We're not studying animal welfare today. Animal welfare is not part of Growing Forward 2 in the way we're looking at it.
At the beginning of our study we all agreed that we wanted to study Growing Forward 2 and provide useful input to the government as they were putting it together to help them in their consultations. We all agreed that we would actually partition the study into segments. For example, for the research and innovation segment we're going to call in witnesses to talk about research and innovation. Then we won't shoot off into 100 different directions and get point/counterpoint on things that don't really concern Growing Forward 2.
I think we started off really well in this regard, and we've worked our way along. Now we're falling off the rails when it comes to our witnesses staying on target. The committee sets its own goals. If we didn't agree to this at the beginning, fine, but we did, and we did very well for the first four modules. It's only in this fifth module that all of a sudden everyone's scattering to the four corners. I think if we go with Mr. Eyking's comments, the counterpoint doesn't belong in the study either.
My concern is that we're trying to stay focused. No one infringes upon an MP's ability to ask questions and for a witness to answer those questions. But when it comes to the opening testimony...I know the clerk has been vigilant in expressing the will of the committee on why we're inviting this witness and what the presentation should focus on. Otherwise it could focus on 100 different things, and I don't think that's what we're after.
Anyway, that's my point. I just wanted to comment on what Mr. Eyking said. If the whole thing is off topic, it just exacerbates the problem to bring in someone to give the counterpoint on something that's off topic.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
It's interesting you had to ask the questions to find out. It wasn't part of their presentation.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I'd like to follow what Mr. Lobb asked Christine regarding Taco Bell. He asked where the meat comes from. It's from the U.S. under contract.
If supply management were not there for chicken, for example, would we see the same end result? Would chicken then come in from the United States, and in the end Canadian chicken farmers would lose? Is that a possibility?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I would say the same about beef. Our Canadian farmers are not well served by beef being bought in the U.S. and sold through Taco Bell in Canada. That's the point I'd make.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I'll move on.
Mr. Newkirk, I see you sitting there over on the far left, and you haven't said boo since your presentation.
I had the opportunity to visit the Canadian International Grains Institute in January. I was really impressed by both the work and the breadth of work they're doing. I certainly learned a lot.
I want to give you the opportunity to comment on some of the things you do and how they benefit consumers now and will benefit consumers in the future, both in Canada and elsewhere, because Canadian product moves to consumers in other countries. I know that you provide services in that regard.
Can you tell my colleagues about the institute—those who have not had the opportunity to visit CIGI and see what I saw?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
One of the things I did find interesting...you were talking about noodles. We were having this discussion about the consumer, at the far end, making discriminating choices when he's in the grocery store about noodles that he likes and noodles that he or she does not like. You have a role to play in that, in terms of educating processors, for example, about Canadian wheat, what the ratios of different types of grain should be within a noodle, to ultimately have the customer choose that product, both here at home and internationally.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Now that the Wheat Board is going to be a voluntary Wheat Board, what sorts of opportunities do you see for your role in the same regard?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thanks very much, Chair.
Mr. Kingston, I must admit I was very surprised by some of your comments. You said that government officials seriously misled this committee. That's almost a direct quote of what you said. That's a very serious allegation. These members were in front of committee just last week.
I want to know if you have the courage to say that outside this room, where you're not protected by parliamentary privilege. If the answer is no, then I would ask you to withdraw that remark.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I invite you to say that outside the room. A reporter is here who I'm sure would love to ask you that question.
I want to move on to the budget. On some of the budget increases we've seen, listening to you speak it's all doom and gloom. Yet for the record, in budget 2011 we committed an additional $100 million over five years to the CFIA to improve food inspection capacity. We put aside $67 million to support development of food safety and traceability systems, and $223 million has been invested in the food safety action plan by CFIA. If I look at the budget from 2006 to 2011 for CFIA, in 2006 it was $662 million, and now it's $778 million.
Parliament approves these budget increases. Conservatives voted for them, but not all MPs did. Opposition party MPs did not vote for them. I'd like to know your thoughts on MPs, who I know are concerned about food safety, not voting for such increases to food safety.
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