The Ritz Cracker is in the Hot Seat Again
There was a time when we Canadians scoffed at the lax regularity climate in the USA but, pushed by business and the neo-cons successive Canadian governments have bought into the move towards deregulation and replaced tough inspections systems with self regulation.
I would not ignore the role the Liberals have played in this area, they are hardly free from criticism but, this kind of thing is right up Stephen Harper's alley.
The latest problem in this area of deregulation falls right into the lap of our Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz who is obviously a slow learner.
Most Canadians will remember listerosis contamination crisis. It was troubling to hear then that federal meat inspectors spent most of their time in their offices these days doing paperwork while the responsibility for keeping the market place safe was left to the meat packers and processors themselves.
The inspectors themselves complained that what they were doing was unsafe but under-staffing and changes to the inspection regimen made it impossible to do their jobs in what they considered to be a proper manner.
Gerry Ritz was caught making a joke of the crisis and embarrassed by it all he finally agreed to hire more inspectors. Today it just might be that all those new hires Gerry boasted about were replacements for people who had quit and were replaced. The union representing the inspectors says the size of the inspection force is the same as it was before the listerosis outbreak.
Somebody is lying.
Well, just when Gerry thought things had quieted down and he was operating under the radar again, what do you know.
The American officials, never known for tough regulation themselves, have said that the Canadian practice of inspecting the plants that process the packaged meat once a week, falls far short of the American requirement of daily inspections. The ultimatum is clear. Either meet American standards, or keep your Canadian processed meat at home.
Now, just when Stephen Harper plans to cut public service jobs, the government is discovering that they actually need these workers.
The question now is will Gerry Ritz actually do anything to fix the problem this time or should we expect more of the same. I am betting on the latter.
I for one think its time to move Gerry to Parliament's backbenches where he belongs.