Politics on TV, Oct. 4: 'The minister should resign'

Pundits and politicians talk tainted beef

Message of the day: “The minister should resign”

Questions not answered

  • Where was the breakdown on E. Coli – the plant, CFIA, or the minister?

Tainted meat

Power & Politics led off with the XL Foods recall. Malcolm Allen said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was derelict in his duty and should resign. Pierre Lemieux reiterated that the government is committed to increasing resources for food safety and repeated that investigations take time. Wayne Easter said the government has a responsibility to show confidence in the beef industry and to bring a bottom to the fall of prices. Both Easter and Marston said they would support Bill S-11 – with amendments.

Power Play hosted a panel featuring Bruce Cran of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, Ron Bonnett of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and Rick Culbert from Bioniche Food Safety. Cran says his members are upset inspectors didn’t catch the contamination before the Americans did, and that some of the retailers haven’t issue an apology. Bonnett said farmers are taking steps to ensure the food is safe.

Don Martin spoke to media consultant Barry McLoughlin about crisis communications. McLoughlin noted that the perception of risk can be greater than the risk. He said Ritz is playing catch-up, and needs to be out there.

Evan Solomon spoke to Bob Kingston, president of the Agriculture Union, who said the plant is ultimately responsible for the outbreak, though politicians seem to be in possession of faulty information.

Don Martin hosted an MP panel during which Michelle Rempel said the minister has been on the ground and that the 700 new inspectors “is the fact” (even though that talking point vanished from Question Period). Elizabeth May pointed out that the number of inspectors at the XL plant didn’t increase as the plant volume did, which was part of the breakdown. Peter Julian accused the government of making things up with their claims.

Syria vs. NATO

Evan Solomon asked an MP panel about shelling between Syria and Turkey. Deepak Obhrai said the Assad regime is trying to widen the war, but that they are asking Turkey to act with restraint to avoid inflaming the situation. He added that Turkish authorities met with NATO partners. Paul Dewar said they need to de-escalate the situation, and to tell China and Russia about what could happen if the situation gets out of control. John McKay said he’s pleased to see an apology from the Assad regime and encouraged by the restraint shown by Turkey and others.

Nexen takeover

Power & Politics discussed the NDP’s declaration that it is against the proposed takeover of Nexen by CNOOC. Peter Julian said the party made its decision after two months of consultations and with the knowledge that 70 per cent of Canadians are opposed to the deal. Michelle Rempel accused the NDP of being opposed to trade and against growth and development in a cornerstone industry. David McGuinty said he’s not sure which is more irresponsible – rejecting the deal out of hand, or the lack of transparency around “net benefit.”

Privacy report

Don Martin spoke to Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart about her latest report. Stoddart said Veterans Affairs has turned its act and reduced access for 500 employees who didn’t need to see the files. She also noted there are increasing delays when Canadians request to see their personal information. Stoddart said she has taken the decision to do an audit of the Canada Revenue Agency next.

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