Today in Politics and Podcast: Opposition Motion on Pipeline Dispute

Today in Politics and Podcast: Opposition Motion on Pipeline Dispute

A kayaker paddles past the Kinder Morgan yard in Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver, B.C., in 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward


UPDATED February 12, 2018 12:03pmET

It’s also an opposition day in the House of Commons, with Conservatives calling for federal action on the Alberta-B.C. pipeline dispute:

That, given the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the national interest, will create jobs and provide provinces with access to global markets, the House call on the Prime Minister to prioritize the construction of the federally-approved Trans Mountain Expansion Project by taking immediate action, using all tools available; to establish certainty for the project, and to mitigate damage from the current interprovincial trade dispute, tabling his plan in the House no later than noon on Thursday, February 15, 2018.

The week in the House of Commons begins with a proposed ban on “unhealthy food” advertising aimed at children.

Bill S-228 returns for second-reading debate, following the first hour of speeches on Dec. 12. Introduced by Conservative Senator Nancy Greene Raine in September 2016, it passed the upper chamber last autumn.

The bill is aimed at preventing obesity, high cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic conditions in children (defined in the bill as 17 years old and under).

Its main clause orders: “no person shall advertise unhealthy food in a manner that is directed primarily at children.”

Liberal MP Doug Eyolfson is sponsoring the bill in the Commons – though he wants to amend the definition of “children” to under 13 instead of under 17. He also wants a mandatory review of the legislation after five years.

Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary for justice and health, rose in support in December, telling the House that Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor would “advance regulations … to exempt the sponsorship of community sporting activities from marketing restrictions.” Restaurants that sponsor minor hockey teams, for example.

Conservative Phil McColeman, meanwhile, called S-228 “a distraction from the urgent need to explore the real causes of childhood obesity, namely, the lack of balance between diet, screen time, and physical activity. Evidence does not support that marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages is the true cause of childhood obesity in Canada … the bill as currently drafted is extremely vague and leaves too many doors open to unintended consequences. We do not know yet what constitutes unhealthy food. ”

The government is looking at marketing, junk food, and children as part of a larger plan on nutrition and healthy eating.

Health Canada held a public consultation this past summer, reporting in December 2017 that its proposals were “well received by members of the public and health professionals.”

The government had proposed a ban that includes:

  • a strict definition for “unhealthy food” containing salt, sugar, and saturated fats. The list includes french fries, soda, potato chips, cheese, juice, chocolate, ice cream, frozen waffles, instant oatmeal, and “most cookies, cakes, pies and sweets.”
  • a focus on TV time slots more likely to have young viewers: weekdays from 6am to 9am and 3pm to 9pm, and weekends from 6am to 9pm.
  • regulation of all unhealthy food marketing on websites, apps, and Internet platforms popular with children.

Some of the 1,146 respondents called for stricter measures.

Opponents countered that such a ban would:

  • reduce revenue for children’s programming;
  • restrict freedom of speech;
  • harm Canadian companies while having no effect on foreign advertising seen by Canadian children;
  • remove responsibility and choice from parents;
  • have little effect on eating habits since children themselves have little spending power.

2016 Senate report called increasing childhood obesity rates a “crisis,” but “not the product of a collective loss of willpower”. Senators blamed in part a “proliferation of fast and processed foods”.

Quebec has had a provincial ban on advertising aimed at children under 13 since 1980.

In 2016, CPAC looked at the health minister’s mandate letter and a pledge to tackle child obesity:

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu visits the Standing Committee on Human Resources to answer questions on Bill C-65 — the government’s anti-harassment and anti-violence workplace legislation that includes Parliament Hill staff. LIVE ONLINE at 3:30pm ET / 12:30pm PT

For more Today in Politics, listen to Mark Sutcliffe’s daily podcast:

-Andrew Thomson