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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Risking lives to save a buck 

The Conservatives thought the only risk to eliminating meat inspections would be in the area of "communications" -- in other words, that the stupid public wouldn't like it.
The risk of people dying so the government could save a few bucks didn't seem to be a factor in their decision-making.
Allison provides a copy of last November's Treasury Board memo which supported the elimination of on-site meat inspections. The idea was to allow industry "to implement food safety control programs and to manage key risks." But Vic Toews and the rest of the Treasury Board brain trust must have been impressed with the opportunity to save a million dollars this year, and three millions a year after that. The Treasury Board memo says, in the usual pompous governmentese:
In addition to the reallocation proposals announced in the Budget [ie, the ones we were told about], Treasury Board Ministers also supported the proposal shown in Annex B [ie, the ones we were NOT told about. This is where eliminating meat inspections is described] however, the announcement of these reallocations has been deferred owing to significant communications risks and to allow for further policy and communications work to be completed."
The Conservatives fired the food scientist who sent this memo to the union. Without his brave action, Canadians might have believed Health Minister Tony Clement's pious declaration that:
"When it comes to health and safety, you can't scrimp and save; you've got to do your job on behalf of Canadians and that's what we're doing."
Instead, as Allison points out:
What you're doing is privatizing food safety ... and lying about it.

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