October 2, 2012
PM faces criticism over beef recall
By JESSICA HUME, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA - The government offered no response as to why it waited 12 days to notify the public of an E. coli contamination in some Alberta beef, though it did speak to the issue in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Much of Tuesday's question period was focused on the government's response to the E. coli outbreak in beef from the huge XL slaughterhouse in Alberta. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency discovered E. coli on Sept. 4 but only notified the public Sept. 16.
"When will the minister take responsibility?" interim Liberal leader Bob Rae asked.
"The CFIA responds to information as it receives it," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, adding that as the CFIA learned more, it widened its containment. "(We have) put legislation before Parliament to increase the powers of the food-safety authorities."
The opposition, Harper continued, should support the government in seeing that the Safe Food for Canadians Act passes.
Tory MP Pierre Lemieux repeated that the government has increased funding to the CFIA by $150 million through the past two budgets.
NDP MP Ruth-Ellen Brosseau said this E. coli outbreak marked the "second major crisis in the past five years," adding that each costs billions to taxpayers.
"Canadian consumers are always the first priority when it comes to food safety," Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a statement to reporters. "Canadian food-safety officials began containing contaminated products on Sept. 4."