Emergency Debate – Food Safety

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I want to take this debate to a different level. I want to quote from the Weatherill report. In addition to the fact that we have lost food inspectors and we are concerned about food safety, we may not be addressing the big picture. The Weatherill report reads:

The risks of foodborne illness are also greater than ever before. Large scale farming and food processing…impacts of globalization…with access to foods from around the world, all contribute to increased opportunities for contamination. These same trends make it harder to trace the source….

I look at this one plant processing between 2,000 and 5,000 cattle a day, up to 40% of all the beef in Canada, and ask if perhaps the industrialized, concentrated corporate food model is not about food but about corporate profits and we would be better to support local farmers, local abattoirs and local processing

Hon. Ted Menzies: Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of nonfactual comments in that. We have a system in place to deal with the processes we have in place. It is all wonderful to think that we can go back to only providing food for a 10 mile radius around our homes. That would be a bit of a challenge in downtown Toronto.

We have a safe system that deals with our modern way of producing food, whether it is apples, strawberries or beef. The world moves on and the CFIA has moved on to meet that. We have recognized that.

I would like to correct the hon. member. We actually have more meat inspectors than we had in 2006, 700 more. That sort of rhetoric is what frightens people. That is not helpful. We need to reassure people that the plant is closed. There is no more meat coming out of that plant until the CFIA says that it is safe to do so.