[Former Ontario Premier Mike] Harris assumed that small Ontario towns like Walkerton would have the good sense to keep their drinking water clean.
[Prime Minister Stephen] Harper assumed that profit-making companies would make sure that their consumers received safe products.
In both cases, they were wrong.
This excerpt from Thomas Walkom's Star column is a sobering reminder of the potentially deadly consequences of the deregulation mentality embraced by the right-wing in conjunction with its credo that business can do things better and more efficiently than government.
The shortcomings of such naive faith in industry self-regulation becomes obvious as more information is revealed about the XL Foods tainted meat scandal that has prompted the biggest recall in Canadian history. As reported earlier, three weeks elapsed between the discovery of E.coli in XL Foods' Lakeside Packers plant in Alberta and the actual meat recall. The responsibility for the time lag appears to rest solely with the company.
As reported by Joanna Smith in today's Star,
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture both discovered E. coli O157:H7 ... on beef products originating from the XL Foods Inc. plant in Brooks, Alta. on Sept. 4.
A request for full documentation of the problem was made on Sept.6 by the frontline staff of CFIA stationed at XL, but the documentation was not forthcoming.
The following statement is probably the most damning evidence of the failings of industry self-regulation:
“There was a delay in getting it . . . We have limited authority to compel immediate documentation,” George Da Pont, president of the food inspection agency, said during a news conference in Calgary on Wednesday.
Now in crisis mode, expect more fatuous assurances by the Harper regime of the safety of our food supply, even as its latest budget reduces the funding required to keep Canadian foods safe by 27 per cent.
But at least Harper Inc. is sending out a clear message to potential investors: Canada is open for business as it continues to reduce red tape and the 'heavy hand' of government 'interference.'
P.S. You might want to pack your own lunch.