The Brooks Alberta’s XL’s Meat Processor’s handling of meat processing is likely the product of corporate greed and a compromised Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The diminished CFIA is responsible for protecting the health of consumers. In XL’s case they have flip-flopped around while the health of Canadians and Americans who import the product played second fiddle to the pressure to keep the operation up and running.
When E. Coli is discovered the entire operation should have been shut down until the cause of contamination could be determined, inspected and evaluated in the public interest.
Why, when contaminated meat was discovered by US officials did CFIA inspectors allow XL’s tainted operation to continue for weeks? Could it be in part that they were understaffed and impeded from doing their jobs properly?
The Harper government’s actions cutting back on government inspectors is directly connected to the life threatening risks that continued for weeks after health threats were determined and publicized.
Should heads roll? Absolutely, starting with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and leading up to PM Steve Harper’s front door.
These unacceptable risks are the predictable result when ideaology trumps common sense and responsible government inspection proceedures.
Neither Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz nor PM Steve Harper stepped in to direct appropriate intervention in a timely manner. Turns out that Minister Ritz was absent from the house during the debates and questions brought up by the NDP and Liberals.
Clearly the problems at XL’s facility are linked to the Conservative Harper Government deregulation and reliance on a self regulation model. We have seen the folly of this approach in many areas but in this case the lives of those who consume the contaminated meat are at risk.
Now we are facing the biggest recall of meat in Canadian history but it took too long to enact. Harper Government policies created the environment where cutting corners was inevitable.
Canadians are depending on the Opposition NDP and Liberal Leaders and MP’s to hold the Harper Government’s feet to the fire on this one.
The Opposition have been doing a good job but the restructuring of processing facilities should be examined. Big ain’t necesarily better, in fact it appears that corporate profits enhanched by short cuts created an environment where this happened and will continue to happen if not brought back up to a safe and acceptable standard.
Are two large slaughterhouses adequate for Alberta or is it a recipe for disaster? The huge operations create efficiences but Canadians would be better served by additional facilities, including small scale operators.
We must insist that the Conservatives renew a committment to adequate funding, staffing and authority of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
To do less is criminal neglect. Over to you Prime Minister Harper.