Another tainted meat memo: Politics on TV, Nov. 29 edition

Talking about a leaked CFIA memo, the UN vote on Palestinian recognition, and new revelations in the Jeffrey Delisle spy case

Message of the day

“CFIA ensures that the same food safety standards are applied to domestic and exported products.”

Hot Topics

  1. New tainted meat allegations
  2. The vote at the UN on Palestinian non-member observer state status
  3. New revelations in the Jeffrey Delisle spy case

Questions not answered

  • Why was Jeffrey Delisle’s security clearance allowed to lapse?

Tainted meat memo:

In the wake of a leaked CFIA memo from 2008 that said that meat inspectors should observe a different standard for meat bound for Japan as opposed to that for domestic consumption, Power & Politics heard from an MP panel of Pierre Lemieux, Malcolm Allen and Frank Valeriote. Lemieux insisted that there was a full and robust inspection system, and that the Japanese requirements are special because they want beef less than 21 months of age, but there was no difference in terms of safety inspections. Allen said the memo doesn’t talk about the age of the beef, but rather about contaminants on the carcasses. Valeriote said that they changed the protocol two weeks ago, which suggests that there was a double standard, and said that there is a need for a third-party audit of the inspection system.

The same panel was on Power Play, where Lemieux assured everyone that Gerry Ritz is indeed engaged on the file, Allen said that the microbial wash further down the processing line can’t get some of the caked on material cleaned from the carcasses, and Valeriote said that inspectors under the new Act will be required to be qualified in three disciplines rather than meat alone, making them jacks of all trades and masters of none.

On P&P’s Power Panel, John Ivison said that the government was not happy with the inspection process, as demonstrated by the bill they brought forward, and that there was a five per cent cut to CFIA’s budget. Tom Flanagan noted that there needs to be caution in rushing to judgement because we are urbanites removed from the process, and that the Japanese have different and more “neurotic” standard for food safety. Gerry Caplan brought up the issue of line speeds at the plant, while Liza Frulla said that the minister seems to be continually surprised by these stories while he ignores the calls for a third-party audit.

Palestinian UN bid:

In the wake of the UN vote to grant Palestinians observer state status, Power & Politics spoke with an MP panel of Deepak Obhrai, Paul Dewar and Irwin Cotler to get their thoughts. Obhrai said that peace and a two-state solution remain their objectives, and that there are no decisions going forward about cutting aid or expelling the Palestinian delegation. Dewar said he was disappointed with the government’s position, and wondered how the veiled threat in Baird’s speech was going to advance the peace process. Cotler said the rejectionist language of the motion echoed the rejection of the borders from 65 years ago, and wondered who the new status recognized, as the Palestinian Authority is not in control of the territory.

Power Play had an MP panel of Michelle Rempel, Elizabeth May and Robert Chisholm to discuss the vote, where Chisholm added that Baird’s position doesn’t encourage negotiation with moderate parties, May noted that the UN is crucial for a multilateral approach to peace, and Rempel reiterated that the desired outcome is a long-term, binding peace agreement.

Solomon spoke with Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat who said that it was a symbolic victory, but that it gives them the right to join the specialized agencies of the UN. Erekat said that Baird’s speech was detrimental to Canada’s role as the gavel-holder on the issue of refugees. Solomon then spoke with Israeli government spokesperson Jonathan Peled, who said the resolution is untimely and won’t serve the cause of negotiations.

P&P’s Power Panel also weighed in, where Ivison felt this was a stunt to isolate Israel at the UN, and that it violates the Oslo Agreement, which Flanagan agreed with. Caplan said that we will be back to status quo within a year, and that there will never be a two-state scheme under the Israeli government. Frulla said that Baird did the very same thing a year ago at UNESCO, and that our bias for Israel prevents Canada from being an honest broker.

The Delisle Case:

Power & Politics heard from CBC’s Rob Gordon who obtained the 90-page warrant for Delisle, which shows an intelligence failure when it comes to doing a mandatory security check on Delisle when his Top Secret clearance expired. Solomon then spoke with MPs Jack Harris and John McKay (Chris Alexander had been scheduled to appear and cancelled before the panel went to air). Harris said that the government’s excuse about not commenting on cases before the court doesn’t hold water as Delisle is only awaiting sentencing, and that the real issue is about what the government is or is not doing about national security. McKay said that more disclosure would alleviate concerns, including from allies.

Worth Noting:

  • Elizabeth May said that the Doha climate negotiations can produce results, but Peter Kent has already decided to renege on funding commitments in the Copenhagen Accord, while Rempel noted that Japan is also pulling out of a second round of the Kyoto Protocol.
  • PEI Premier Robert Ghiz said that he doesn’t expect anything to come from the “preposeterous” notion of a Maritime Union, and that the four Atlantic provinces already cooperate more than people realize.
  • CBC’s Terry Milewski said that in advance of news that the government will be announcing a loan guarantee for the Muskrat Falls project, there is a family connection for embattled minister Peter Penashue with that project, which raises new ethics questions.
  • Senator Bob Runciman said that because so many senators want to speak about the single-game betting bill, and with only two weeks left in the sitting, it may not be resolved until February.
  • Craig Oliver said that the Conservatives calling Justin Trudeau before the National Resource committee shows how worried they are about him, and that it gives him a platform to lay into the Conservatives’ faults.
  • Bill Curry said that the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s latest look at the deficit raises questions as to whether or not Flaherty is padding the deficit numbers to make himself look good when it comes in smaller than expected.

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