James "Scrooge" Moore talks child poverty

Updated Dec. 16.

Senior Conservative cabinet minister James Moore set off a firestorm Sunday with comments about child poverty.

"Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so," the industry minister told reporters in a scrum over the weekend.

Moore, pointing out Ottawa is focussed on job creation while provinces are responsible for dealing with child poverty, also asked: "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?"

Moore was responding to a question about what can be done about child poverty, given dismal statistics released last month showing one in seven Canadian children — or 967,000 — still lives in poverty, according to Campaign 2000's annual report.

Moore's home province of British Columbia, where he serves as MP for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, brings up the national average, with the highest child poverty rates in Canada. In B.C., one in five kids live in poverty.

Facing criticism about his comments, Moore took to Twitter Sunday to say his words were taken "out of context." He said the headline — "Federal minister says child poverty not Ottawa’s problem" — didn't reflect what he said.

The reporter, Sara Norman, shot back: "It's on tape and taken directly in context. I asked the questions about child poverty, those were the answers. By Monday, Moore issued an apology. "The cause of fighting poverty is not helped by comments like those I made last week. I am sorry," he said in a statement.

Have a listen to what Moore is apologising for, and note the chuckle:

Photo: portlandcenterstage. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.