Message of the day
“Canadians can have confidence in food safety”
Questions not answered
- Did Mahmoud Abbas bring up the settlement issue with Harper? What was the PM’s response?
- What exactly is the inspection situation at the plant affected by that E. Coli contamination?
Power Play spoke to Pierre Lemieux and Malcolm Allen about the new cases of contaminated meat. Lemieux insisted Canadians can trust the safety of their food because CFIA has added additional inspectors and received an extra $150 million in funding. Allen argued that there is actually less money in the system, that the listeriosis program will sunset next year, and that there is a “compliance verification system” at the plant in question where CFIA inspectors just check paperwork.
On Power & Politics, after an explainer about how the new E. Coli cases are not related to the previous recall, John McCallum joined Lemieux and Allen. Lemieux reiterated the illnesses are not directly linked. Allen insisted the American result was not a presumptive result – which Lemieux disputed. McCallum suggested the minister has been too quick to offer assurances.
Parliamentary Budget Officer:
Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page told Evan Solomon that the federal government has turned around its fiscal picture by making big decisions around freezing direct-program spending and ending the escalator on health transfers. Page said the federal government has fiscal room to manoeuvre, but that some of the problems with changing demographics have been transferred to the provinces because health spending is growing faster than the economy.
Roger Smith also spoke to Page, who added that provinces and municipalities will need to either make $34 billion in program spending cuts or to raise taxes in response to the demographic shift.
UN General Assembly:
With news that Stephen Harper met with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in New York, Power & Politics spoke to an MP panel. Deepak Obhrai, in New York with Harper, reiterated that the government’s long-standing policy is to support a two-state solution with both parties at the negotiation table. He added that Canada will not support the unilateral action of a vote on recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN. Paul Dewar said he wants to see Harper at the UN to promote the two-state solution, and that state recognition should be part of the peace process. John McKay said he could understand Abbas’ frustration, but that any recognition should only come once negotiations had run their course and reached an impasse.
Abortion vote fallout:
Power Play spoke to MPs Stephen Woodworth, Libby Davies and Joyce Murray about the vote on M-312. Woodworth denied there was a deep fault-line in the party. He said he’s alarmed the “preoccupation” with abortion is leading to calls to abandon traditions in order to give the Prime Minister a veto over private members’ business. Murray said she was stunned by Ambrose’s vote, and reminded viewers that women die when abortions are illegal. Davies said Harper was either speaking out of both sides of his mouth, or he can’t control his caucus. She called Ambrose’s excuse of voting her constituents’ wishes “pathetic.”
Over on Power & Politics, Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Davies and Senator Joan Fraser picked up the topic. Findlay listed the government’s credentials on the Status of Women file, including extending matrimonial property rights for First Nations and speaking out against honour killings. She added that the motion met the criteria to be brought to a vote, and that not all women hold the same view on abortion. Davies said they couldn’t escape the fact M-312 was set up to undermine the rights of women. Senator Fraser suggested Ambrose should have abstained from a vote that revealed a lack of judgment.
Jim Prentice, Senior CIBC VP and former cabinet minister, was on Power Play to discuss his speech earlier in the day in which he said if Canada wants to be an energy superpower, it must diversify its energy market away from the U.S. and toward Asia. He said that while the opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline is a hurdle, West Coast access could be achieved with more robust discussion with First Nations and the creation of a co-management regime. With the relationship between China and the U.S. deteriorating, Prentice said Canada must be sensitive to its place between the two largest economies on the planet.