Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Canadian Medical Association: Conservatives "Helped Bring About This Listeria Epidemic"

The Canadian Medical Association Journal releases a SCATHING editorial of the Conservatives complicity in the listeria outbreak, and they warn of more to come. Some highlights, or "things the Conservatives don't want public", as the case may be:
Last November the Canadian government instituted a
strategic review of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
(CFIA). Among its outcomes was to transfer inspection duties
for ready-to-eat meats from the government inspectors to the
meat industry. Cabinet decided to “shift from full-time CFIA
meat inspection presence to an oversight role, [thereby] allowing
industry to implement food safety control programs
and to manage key risks.”1

In practice, the new policy meant that CFIA inspectors
would rarely enter meat plants to test for bacteria and testing
was left mostly to companies. Self-inspection came largely to
substitute for, and not just to supplement, government inspection.

Government policy errors helped bring about this epidemic.Yet surprisingly, government has taken no remedial
steps beyond issuing a food recall.

The listeriosis epidemic is a timely reminder that the
Harper government has reversed much of the progress that
previous governments made on governing for public health.

And listeriosis may be the least of it. The same November
2007 Cabinet decision that handed self-inspection to the
owners of meat plants did the same for operators of animal
feed mills and cut back the avian influenza preparedness program.

Overall, it would seem that,
as a country, Canada is far less prepared now for epidemics
than in the past.

I know minor electrical problems on a campaign plane is a very relevant story, but I'm willing to bet Canadians would rather see a story or two on FOOD SAFETY, what with people dying and such. Harper calls for an investigation, and all is forgotten, despite what EXPERTS say, despite the fact that their approach to food safety speaks to a core election issue, a core philosophy. When those in the know, say the government is culpable, I think people need to understand, I'm weird that way.


Susan said...

You are doing an amazing job of getting this information to your readers. I for one take it to anyone who will listen. At some point this body of information must hit a broader circuit. I was thinking today of newspaper ads with the blogs in them (verbatim) but I seem to recall private advertising is now against the law during an election, but perhaps we could persuade local ridings to take out the ads.

I also think that shaming the press would work - they are arrogant for the most part and probably don't want to be seen as muzzled wuses. The logistics however are daunting.

Perhaps we could funnel info to the ABC Camapaign.

Northern PoV said...

Thank you Steve for posting this and thank you CMAJ for this timely analysis.

Hey, anyone who lived through the dark days of Harris in Ontario (bad water deaths, SARS deaths etc and the incredible SARS economic fallout) should send this link to their friends and relatives across the country.

This is what you get when mendacious right wing zealots impose their COMMON-SENSE-REVOLUTIONS.

Steve V said...

From what I can see, this story is getting ZERO coverage.

Karen said...

Harper dismissed this this am, saying it's irrelevant.

The author's apparently aren't credible?

Guess that will be the last of that question being asked.

Dame said...

Since Regan "the great God of Conservstive ideologies... DEREGULATION paired with YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN is a constant goal and action For all moneyed heads.And this is what you get with it on" wallstreets " On public health on basic rights of the individual ect ect..
he is not concerned about environmental stuff... why would he ..

Mr Nasty is the poster boy For This rotten immoral Phylosophy.


Steve V said...

Aren't credible? Oh, those professionals, what do they know. It's the same response everytime, only Harper knows, experts have it wrong. Ridiculous.

Karen said...

Beyond ridiculous Steve. He just brushed it off like a fly.

Media reaction? None.

Steve V said...

This is such a fundamental issue, because it shows what happens because of ideology. The conservative preference for cutting, this idea that government shouldn't interfere, vs protecting the public- it's a classic contrast, that demonstrates approaches.

Don't worry W5 will do some half hour piece after the election, detailing the sequence of events- Listeria: The Untold Story. Hard hitting journalism on vacation, only to wake when it's too late.

Northern PoV said...

Re: Media coverage of this...

Google News shows 23 hits for this story

but the headline & focus in most cases is the call for a full inquiry rather than the stark condemnation of the Harper policies .. so Harper can say he has already called an inquiry and the media will continue to ignore.
This does vindicate Dion's visit to (and attack in) Walkerton and maybe helps account for the better numbers in Ontario

Steve V said...


That's interesting, you would think they would highlight the criticism of Harper, because that's the entire thrust of the editorial. That liberal media of ours...