Sunday, January 04, 2009

Why Cynicism Is Warranted

Remember when Harper hastily announced a listeria "probe", just prior to the election call? Most of us saw it as a cynical attempt to take the issue off the table, much like the PMO move to bury Minister Gary Ritz deep within the earth's mantle after the tragedy broke. With victory secured, just what ever became of the probe?:
The Harper government has not yet named the leader of a promised probe into the listeriosis outbreak that killed 20 people - a lag critics say discredits an already suspect process.

The delay raises fresh concerns among food-safety watchers, who doubt Conservative commitment to overhauling what they say is a chronically short-staffed inspection system...

Critics assailed Harper's six-month investigation timeline as a rushed job that was more about dodging tough questions on federally supervised food inspection.

"We said at the time it looked like a political ploy just to take it off the agenda during the election," said Bob Kingston, president of the Agriculture Union representing food inspectors through the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

"I still think that's the case. But I would have expected them to attempt to try something. To have absolutely no action - it's a little bit surprising."

Kingston says changes proposed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency include more stringent oversight, more reporting and more rigorous testing...

"It's absolutely clear that this so-called investigation is intended to be a whitewash," says editorial co-signer Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa researcher who is a lawyer and biologist by training.

"With Walkerton we had an inquiry," he said of the E. coli-tainted water tragedy in southern Ontario that killed at least seven people and sickened 5,000. "With tainted blood, we had an inquiry.

"With listeria, which killed a few-fold more people than Walkerton, we don't have one. It's no exaggeration to say that the Harper government has done less than any government in recent Canadian history to seek to understand what went wrong when Canadian citizens died. And it has sought to do less just because it knows it's culpable.

"This government is not willing to swallow its medicine. That's the difference."

I would argue the delay, or lack of priority, speaks volumes about the government's role in the tragedy. Clearly, the government understands that any probe will reveal their failings, the underlying ideological pre-disposition, which is why they are dragging their heels. Oh well, the "probe" commitment did what it was supposed too, neutralize, nobody really ever cared about food safety, just a potential electoral irritant.


Ken Chapman said...

He was slow to get the Mulroney/Schreiber Inquiry going too now starting in Feb I believe. Quick to appoint a Supreme Court judge after Parliament was prorogued. This was so he would not have to use his Parliamentary Committee review process, not that it was very valuable in the first place.

ml johnstone said...

He will probably blame this all on
the Coalition accord. They took up all his time for acting on serious business for Canadians.
He had to go and visit the GG, then he had to give press interviews, attend Chanukah celebrations, attend to Afghan troops and funerals,and appoint Senators as well as study how to to speak more like Obama by adding phrases like: let me be clear here, or let me be clear.

Steve V said...

Or, maybe he was too busy crafting ways to screw the opposition.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly the sort of thing that the opposition needs to be bringing up in question period. Instead of smearing ministers, actually questioning when Harper is going to deliver on promises and when reports can be expected will keep pressure on the government to actually accomplish something other than some stupid part of their agenda. The North, Mlitary spending, the sale of government properties for ten cents on the dollar, allowing more than a dozen lakes and rivers to become toxic tailings ponds for future mines are a few others that come to mind.

Question period would be much more usefull if simple questions like these are put forward with no embelleshment but simply requesting answers. I suspect it would become a one party zoo then which will not help Harpers popularty in the publics eyes.

Anonymous said...

Death by a thousand cold cuts is only an issue now because HarperCo doesn't want Canadians to be talking about a) his failure as a leader in economic crisis; b) his failure to address the latest Mid-East breakdown and how well his measured response is holding up; c) his failure to bring any sort of confidence to Canadians in any regard, either here, there or in Afghanistan.

Stephen Harper has shut down Parliament, shut down Freedom of Information, shut down Committee work, shut down the average Canadian.

Do you personally feel comfortable writing to Canada's government anymore?

Yes, cynicism is warranted.

Prudence and careful aim is also.

The only way to uphold the promises of Harper is to keep bringing them up, over and over again if need be, but never let up.

Bring on Question Period in the HoC, bring on some governance!

Stephen Harper was all about accountability, so let's see him bring some. Or is it too much to ask?