Friday, August 22, 2008

Government Oversight Bad. Me Like Listeria.

I have nothing personal against the Tories; it's their trogdolytic anti-regulatory pro-privatization ideology that drives me mad. Case in point, the Listeria outbreak. While Canadian consumers were doubled over cramping and wretching, Stephen Harper's cabinet was planning to cut the regulatory budget.

Beyond the specific health and safety issues at hand, confidence is what it's all about. And that is why news reports of a leaked memo pointing to federal government cuts in food safety inspections are so troubling, and so spectacularly current. A cabinet document recently outed by a whistleblower details plans to cut millions in federal spending on surveillance for BSE. As well, initiatives have been designed to shift government food inspection responsibilities to the industry itself.
This information first came to light outside ministry circles in July, when Canadian Food Inspection Agency biologist Luc Pomerleau leaked a seven-page memo detailing the proposed changes to his union. He was fired for his trouble.
The agency is being asked to cut five per cent of its budget as part of an omnibus strategic review. Inheriting a surplus that still stood at $2.8 billion in January-February 2007, the feds have announced a fiscal deficit of $500 million in the same period this year. Something apparently has to give.

Read It:

Great idea. Let's let industry police itself and cut the budget for inspection. Where have I heard that before? Could it be part of the spectacularly successful political platform of President Bush?

Tainted meat is the consequence of tainted ideology;, one that says, "All government is wasteful and bad. I can take care of myself. Gimme mah tax money". Sometimes, it's hard to hear the exploding propane tanks above the Cartmanlike bleating.

An editoral in Today's Star provided another example of the pitfalls of anti-regulatory zeal:

The blast raised serious concerns about the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), the not-for-profit, industry-funded body that took over responsibility for fuel safety, among other things, from the Ontario government in the 1990s under the privatization crusade of then-premier Mike Harris. In the days after the explosion, the TSSA made public a list of propane facilities that proved to be alarmingly out-of-date, calling into question its ability to effectively police a substance it apparently couldn't keep track of. Belatedly, the agency said yesterday it had shut down five propane facilities in a sweep of major operators.

Read It:

Tainted meat, propane explosions, and a 500 million dollar deficit...Feel the Harpermania! It's running wild (or at least unregulated)!

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