|These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Ms. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the agriculture minister seems bound bent on ensuring that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency remains unaccountable. As it stands, Bill C-27 permits the CFIA to seize or destroy property without accountability for its actions or compensation for those who have been unfairly treated. The CFIA itself defined accountability as training its inspectors in the new rules and regulations.
Why does the minister refuse to legislate that the CFIA be held responsible for its actions?
Hon. Reg Alcock (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, accountability and good public management are issues that the government is very much seized of. That particular minister has a very strong voice on it. I know he is looking at these issues as we look at the broader question of how we hold public sector institutions to account.
Ms. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the minister is asking us to approve legislation that protects the CFIA but not producers or processors. Nothing is stopping the government from amending Bill C-27 to ensure that the CFIA does not abuse its powers.
As it stands, agrifood processors can have their inventories seized and operations shut down by the CFIA for two years, be found innocent and then have no recourse for their losses. Can the minister explain why he believes this is just and fair?
Hon. Reg Alcock (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the minister who is deeply engaged in these issues would say the same thing that I said to committee yesterday on a different bill. We do a great disservice to the citizens of Canada when we try to legislate by responding to question period questions. It is not about winning a point. It is about building legislation that is in the best interests of this country.