Liberals press Conservatives on beer labeling

By David Fowler

Last week, before the fall of the government, the Liberals pressed the governing Conservatives on beer labeling, the only product left out of the recent labeling requirement coming into effect on all other products by August 2012.

The exchange came in the house when Deal Allison, Conservative backbencher, moved a motion recognizing anaphylaxis as a serious concern that the government should work on.

Here is part of the exchanged in the house:

Ujjal Dosanjh, MP Vancouver South

Honorable Ujjal Dosanjh (Vancouver South, Liberal):
The recent labelling regulations announcement exempted brewers from the need for labelling. Can the member, as a member of the government caucus, explain the rationale and motivation behind that? I know groups such as Anaphylaxis Canada are disappointed with that. Perhaps the member could tell us something.

Mr. Dean Allison (Niagara West—Glanbrook, Conservative):
Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, most people who are affected are children. I do not think most parents are concerned at this stage that it is not on the beer labels. However, we continue to work with and engage all interested stakeholders. We believe this is important. As we continue to move forward, we did not want this to be the holdup. It has taken some time to get this done. We wanted to move forward with concrete steps because we believe this is so important for our children. Let us get this dealt with. As we move forward, we will have an opportunity to continue consulting to get that taken care of.

Honorable Ujjal Dosanjh (Vancouver South, Liberal):
There are approximately 1% to 2% of Canadians who live with the risk of an anaphylactic reaction. More than 50% of Canadians know someone with a life-threatening allergy. That is why, in principle, this is a very important motion and has my support. However, I want to voice some concerns with regard to the exemption the government has given to the brewery industry.

The government had promised to bring in new regulations with regard to food labelling in July 2008. Almost a year and a half later, in February of this year, the government announced that one sector if industry would be exempt from the new labeling regulations, which is the brewery industry.

As I said earlier in my question, groups such as Anaphylaxis Canada have raised concerns about the exemption of the brewery industry and I have a statement from Anaphylaxis Canada. I want to read two sentences from its press release of February 14 for the record. It commended the government, of course, and then stated:

After two decades of tireless advocacy by thousands of Canadians, our organization is very pleased to see the passage of important new regulations that will make food ingredient labels easier to understand. However, we are very disappointed by the federal government’s decision to alter the regulations as proposed and provide a special exemption to the brewery industry.

I want to put that on the record because I believe the government should be moving faster to deal with that exemption, eliminate it if at all possible, and to do all of the other things that the member talked about in his statement. I do not believe I need to waste the House’s time by saying anything more than that.

Read the full exchange in the house.

In February, I sent an email to all the opposition parties on where they stood on beer exemption. Only the Green Party replied that they would get back to me.

With a federal election now called for May, let’s hope all the parties promise to make the beer exemption a priority in the next parliament and they don’t just see the new labeling laws just for children.

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About David E. Fowler

Online marketing expert via https://ppcsolutions.ca I own and operate an internet marketing agency and consultancy targeting small businesses to optimize their internet marketing budgets. My focus is on setting up, monitoring, and optimizing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns be it on Google AdWords, Bing Ads, or Facebook Ads. I also provide ongoing web site management and update services, site redesign, content management, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media marketing (SMM).