Liberals, NDP gang up on government over mounting fears about meat safety

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OTTAWA - The Liberals and the NDP are ganging up on the government over the safety of Canada's meat supply.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and acting Liberal counterpart Bob Rae took turns during question period taking the governing Conservatives to task for failing to alert Canadians about meat from an Alberta packing plant that's tainted with E. coli.

Mulcair conjured memories of the Maple Leaf Foods listeriosis outbreak of 2008, which was blamed for the deaths of 23 people and happened under the watch of current Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

Rae, meanwhile, demanded to know why it took more than two weeks for the federal government to notify Canadians about the risk of meat from the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who spoke in the House on behalf of the absent Prime Minister Stephen Harper, says Ritz is working hard to ensure Canada's food supply is safe and to hold the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to account.

The government says it has increased the agency's budget by $156 million since taking office, and insists there were 46 federal inspectors on the job at the plant — a 20 per cent increase over the last three years.

Organizations: NDP, Conservatives, Maple Leaf Foods XL Foods Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Geographic location: Canada, OTTAWA, Alberta Brooks

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