Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 1, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie
OTTAWA - The NDP and Liberals continued to hammer the government Monday for how it has handled a meat contamination calamity in Alberta.
E. coli contamination at Alberta's XL Foods has led to the recall of more than 400 products but the feds maintain frontline meat inspection is up to snuff and Canadian consumer trust is "top priority."
"I can assure the House the minister of agriculture is working very hard and is working sincerely to ensure that this issue is dealt with appropriately," said Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who was standing in for
Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Commons on Monday.
Opposition parties say the feds should have ensured operations at XL Foods were suspended sooner and they have accused the government of slashing funding to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
"We had this long explanation from CFIA, we have the protestations by ministers, but we still have two hard realities. For a long period of time, a long period of silence. Canadian consumers were not informed and the minister has not told us when he knew about the problem at XL," said interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.
The government is in the midst of passing legislation - the Safe Food for Canadians Act - which was crafted to prevent crises such as the 2008 listeria outbreak which led to 22 deaths. This legislation has passed second reading in the Senate and it is currently being discussed by a committee.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was not available for an interview Monday but he has said federal changes to streamline food safety regulations are necessary to reduce the risk of future outbreaks.
- with files from Jessica Hume