Moore apologizes for 'insensitive comment' about child poverty
Published Monday, December 16, 2013 2:09PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 16, 2013 11:17PM EST
Industry Minister James Moore has apologized for “an insensitive comment” he made to a reporter over the weekend in which he suggested it’s not the federal government’s job to address child poverty in Canada.
Moore’s comments sparked a swift backlash on Sunday after a reporter for News1130 in Vancouver posted a story and audio of a one-minute question-and-answer moment she had with the minister on Friday. Reporter Sara Norman asked the MP for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam two questions about a report that found child poverty is at an all-time high in B.C.
When asked what the federal government plans to do about child poverty in the province, Moore said it will not “usurp the province’s jurisdiction on that,” and went on to tout the country’s dropping unemployment rate and the government’s oft-repeated claim to have created a million net new jobs since the recession.
“Through economic growth obviously you create more prosperity, more opportunity for everybody,” Moore said. “We’ve never been wealthier as a country than we are right now. Never been wealthier.”
Norman followed up by noting that “kids are going to school hungry.”
“Well, obviously nobody wants kids to go to school hungry,” Moore replied. “Certainly we want to make sure that kids go to school with a full belly, but is that always the government’s job, to serve people their breakfast? Empowering families with more power and resources so that they can feed their own children is, I think, a good thing. Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.”
After links to his comments made the rounds on social media Sunday and gained near-unanimous condemnation, Moore was initially defensive, said his comments were taken out of context and refused to apologize.
@JenWoodroff it is a ridiculous "story" that completely takes a comment out of context.— James Moore (@JamesMoore_org) December 15, 2013
@JenWoodroff apologize for being lied about? No.— James Moore (@JamesMoore_org) December 15, 2013
@TM_Lane not what I believe or said— James Moore (@JamesMoore_org) December 15, 2013
Jinny Sims, NDP MP for the B.C. riding of Newton-North Delta, demanded that Moore apologize.
“During the holidays many of us are looking to help our neighbours and those in need. For a Conservative minister to claim that child poverty isn’t his problem is heartless,” Sims said in a statement.
“Child poverty has continued to grow under this government, and now they’re saying it’s not their problem. The minister should apologize for these offensive comments.”
Sims noted that child poverty is still a problem in Canada despite a unanimous vote in the House of Commons in 1989 on a motion to eliminate it by the year 2000. Campaign 2000, an organization dedicated to addressing child and family poverty in this country, says an estimated 1 in 7 children in Canada lives in poverty.
But late Monday morning, Moore tweeted a link to his website, on which he had posted a statement of apology.
An apology. The cause of fighting poverty is not helped by comments like those I made last week. I am sorry. http://t.co/AgDxaKoyXe— James Moore (@JamesMoore_org) December 16, 2013
“In response to a question from a reporter last week, I made an insensitive comment that I deeply regret. I apologize,” Moore said.
“Caring for each other is a Canadian ethic that I strongly believe in - always have and always will. Of course poverty is an issue that concerns me, and concerns all Canadians. All levels of government, indeed all members of our society, have a responsibility to be compassionate and care for those in need,” he went on.
“Great work has been done to tackle poverty and the challenges associated with poverty. And while more work is needed, I know the cause of fighting poverty is not helped by comments like those I made last week. For that, I am sorry.”