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CETA, the Harper agenda and the tainted beef scandal in Alberta

Reuters reports that Canada’s chief negotiator for the Canada-European Union free trade agreement says he is continuing to press the EU to allow for more imports of Canadian beef and pork, while the EU wants more access into the Canadian market for its dairy products.

This as the Globe and Mail reports on the tainted beef scandal in Alberta prompting hundreds of products being recalled from ten provinces, two territories, and forty-one US states. The newspaper has noted, “Critics say the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) increasingly leaves monitoring up to companies under its supervision rather than undertaking testing itself. …Federal layoffs could (also) cut 100 jobs from the CFIA by 2015, according to the Public Service Alliance of Canada. …(And CFIA staff say) the system clearly didn’t work. If it had the tainted meat wouldn’t have left the plant.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus further ties this to the Harper agenda in a Facebook post this morning noting that there are 1,000 workers in the XL Foods slaughterhouse in Brooks, Alberta (where the contaminated beef came from) who are in Canada on temporary work visas.

The Globe and Mail reports this morning, “Many of the staff are recent immigrants or temporary foreign workers – whoever is willing to take the job, particularly in booming Alberta. Think life on the kill floor sounds tough? Try it without being able to speak English well, or at all, and with your bid for Canadian residency hanging in the balance. The workers have no whistle-blower protection. They won’t rock the boat if there’s a problem. …Tom Hesse, the spokesman for the union representing the plant’s workers, says (this is a problem because), ‘In a place like this (that produces the equivalent of 3,000 steaks a minute), you need a culture that shows an incredible amount of deference to food safety.'”

Does Europe really want their beef and pork coming from this situation? Shouldn’t MEPs be raising this as a point of concern in the European Parliament?

The Reuters article – which includes comments by Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew – is at http://ca.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idCABRE8941CT20121005. More on ‘Harper and the tainted beef scandal’ at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16892.