Monday, February 16, 2009

Tainted meat inquiry

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency whistleblower who told his union last summer about plans to cut already-stretched resources for meat inspection is still unemployed. CFIA scientist Luc Pomerleau found the information on a server accessible to 5,000 people or so, and was fired for passing the item on to his union for discussion at a labour-management joint consultation session.

Because Stephen Harper doesn't want the public to know the danger they're in. Bad for business.

By no coincidence, that document surfaced just as Canadians were being poisoned and killed by tainted meat products: the listeriosis scandal. This appears, in fact, to be an on-going problem. But no lessons have been learned, it seems: even more "self-regulation" is planned, this time in the poultry industry, and senior veterinarians are sounding the alarm.

Meanwhile, there are two parallel inquiries about the listeriosis outbreak in play at the moment, a fake one and a real one.

The fake one, naturally, is happening under the aegis of the Conservative government. My old friend Bob Kingston has all the gory details of the current inspection regime here, and he's not too impressed with a behind-closed-doors investigation by a gagged researcher without the power to subpoena witnesses or to compel testimony. The redoubtable Sheila Weatherill is not only without the tools to do her job properly--she's in a clear conflict of interest as well. Like some of the uninspected products leaving our processing plants, this "investigation" simply doesn't pass the sniff test.

Here's the real one. Given the support of all three opposition parties on the House of Commons agriculture committee, it's likely to be approved later this week. In the meantime, before you tuck into that yummy sandwich, you just might want to consider using a Conservative as an official taster.

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