US & Canada

Canada minister apologises for child hunger remarks

James Moore speaks onstage at the 'Looper' opening night gala premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival 6 September 2012
Image caption James Moore was asked about British Columbia's "all-time high" child poverty rate

Canada's industry minister has apologised for suggesting it was not the Canadian government's job to feed hungry children.

James Moore told a Vancouver radio programme, "Is it my job to feed my neighbour's child? I don't think so."

Mr Moore initially said the remarks had been taken out of context.

But he apologised on Monday after the broadcaster posted the full audio clip, and following pressure from child advocates and opposition politicians.

"In response to a question from a reporter last week, I made an insensitive comment that I deeply regret. I apologise," Mr Moore said in a statement.

"Caring for each other is a Canadian ethic that I strongly believe in," Mr Moore, a Conservative MP from British Columbia said. "All levels of government, indeed all members of our society, have a responsibility to be compassionate and care for those in need".

His remarks came after a reporter asked how Canada's government planned to reduce high child poverty in British Columbia, pointedly asking what the government was doing about children going to school hungry.

"Certainly we want to make sure that kids go to school full bellied, but is that always the government's job to be there to serve people their breakfast?" Mr Moore said.

"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."

One advocate, Adrienne Montani, the head of the First Call BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, told the Toronto Star the comments were "flippant and dismissive".

And earlier on Monday, New Democratic Party MP Jinny Sims called for an apology.

"Child poverty has continued to grow under this government, and now they're saying it's not their problem," Ms Sims said

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