Politics on TV: Wednesday, Oct. 3 edition

In the news: CFIA, tainted meat, Nexen-CNOOC, Brian Mulroney and free trade, Kevin Page and Canadian tourism


Message of the day

“We haven’t been able to find those 700 net new inspectors”

Questions not answered

  • Why didn’t XL Foods bracket the tainted meat sample?

Tainted meat:

Just before an emergency debate in the Commons on tainted meat, Power & Politics convened an MP panel on the subject. Confronted with a clip of the CFIA president saying that XL Foods didn’t bracket the tainted sample – that is, remove the carcass before and after it from the production line – Pierre Lemieux said the sample that tested positive was quarantined. He said the new bill on food safety, S-11, will strengthen inspection powers. Malcolm Allen reiterated that the system is in “real serious trouble” because of self-regulation. Frank Valeriote said S-11 is not a panacea, then he blasted the minister for not answering questions.

Agriculture Union president Bob Kingston was on Power Play where he said he was stunned to hear CFIA leadership say they couldn’t compel documents because the power has always been in the Act. He pointed specifically to sections 13 and 14. He said he hasn’t been able to find these “700 net new inspectors,” because the hires are a classification, not necessarily a job description. While they have found 170 new inspectors in processing plants post-Weatherall Report, they have not found any new inspectors in slaughter plants.

Power Play later spoke to an MP panel comprised of Jinny Sims, Ted Hsu, and Stella Ambler. Hsu said they learned today that CFIA doesn’t have an agreement on the levels of E. Coli to trigger a recall. Sims criticized the minister for making a joke about not caring where the beef served at a lunch he attended in Saskatchewan came from. Ambler defended Ritz’s absence from the House.

Nexen takeover:

Don Martin spoke with Christian Paradis about the Nexen-CNOOC deal, and the fact Alberta Premier Alison Redford has put in a request to Investment Canada to ensure 50 per cent of board is Canadian and to maintain workforce. Paradis said the NDP demands for public consultations are illegal because investor information must be kept confidential. He said that imposing political “kangaroo courts” could drive away investment.

Free Trade:

Don Martin talked  to Brian Mulroney about 25 years of free trade with the United States. Here are some of the points the former PM made about the free trade agreement during their talk:

  • Everything free-trade opponents said about the deal has proved to be false.
  • The only thing Canada lost was its inferiority complex.
  • It was not just the agreement and the low dollar that boosted trade, but was also the tax reforms his government instituted including the GST.
  • New free trade agreements will mean more prosperity, new wealth and new jobs during the next 25 years.

Parliamentary Budget Officer:

Kevin Page was on Power & Politics to update Canadians on his quest for data on the cuts. He rejected claims from Tony Clement and the Clerk of the Privy Council that he is overreaching his mandate. Page said MPs are being asked to vote on estimates that are not consistent with the budget document. He’s giving deputy ministers one more week before he looks for judicial clarity.

Cross-border airports:

Power & Politics summoned an MP panel to discuss a new report that suggests Canada loses five million flights each year to the U.S. Pierre Poilievre noted that while Canada has a user-pay system, the American version is subsidised by taxpayers. He said airport rents account for less than one per cent of an airline ticket, and most of the costs are fuel. Olivia Chow accused the Conservatives of treating airports like cash cows. She said governments should reduce fees and mandate that they pass along the savings. Scott Brison urged the government to work harder to promote Canadian tourism.

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