Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Critics blast Clement's absence.

This is from the Globe and Mail.
I find it a bit odd that there should be three Conservative ministers at the Denver Democratic Convention. Unlike George Bush, Harper cannot even find time to go to the opening of the Beijing Olympics. I guess if you are going to be a junior partner in U.S. imperialism you have to get your priorities straight. What's a few dead Canadians as a result of meat contamination. Its not as if they were troops serving in Afghanistan! They are just collateral damage to a system that hasn't enough meat inspectors and a government that apparently was planning to turn the whole inspection process over to the industry itself.



Critics blast Clement's absence
BILL CURRY
August 26, 2008
OTTAWA -- Canada's Health Minister Tony Clement is in Denver this week to take in Barack Obama's coronation at the Democratic National Convention, leaving his officials in Ottawa to manage one of the largest food recalls in Canadian history.
Mr. Clement made his first public comments Sunday on the growing outbreak of listeriosis, but by yesterday Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was back as the lead point man for the Conservative government.
Further, Mr. Clement's office told The Globe and Mail yesterday that the Health Minister was not notified about the listeriosis outbreak until Aug. 19 - three days after Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials recommended to Health Canada officials that a recall take place.
It was on Aug. 19 that Mr. Clement's political staff sent him an e-mail notifying him that his department had been dealing with a listeriosis outbreak and that he should be briefed.
The e-mail was sent the day before Maple Leaf foods recalled more than 20 meat products and shut down its Toronto plant. The day after the recall, Mr. Clement discussed the outbreak face to face with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa.
While Mr. Ritz, who is responsible for the CFIA, came to Ottawa immediately from his Saskatchewan riding to manage the growing crisis, Mr. Clement carried on with his regular schedule, including stops in Saskatchewan and his Parry Sound-Muskoka riding in Ontario.
"I continue to be available all hours of the day and night," said Mr. Clement in a phone call from Denver, where he is one of three Conservative ministers at the event, along with government House Leader Peter Van Loan and Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon. "This is a very important convention where there is a chance that the next president of the United States will be nominated."
But the opposition said the Health Minister should be visible and on the scene.
Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion has already pointed out that Mr. Clement was in the Ontario government that was partly blamed for the tainted-water deaths in Walkerton, Ont. Mr. Dion accused the federal Tories of wanting to take the same deregulation approach to food.
"His absence is yet another example of a Harper minister missing in action at the height of a national medical crisis," Mr. Dion's spokesman, Mark Dunn, said in an e-mail.
NDP health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis said Mr. Clement should have given the convention a pass.
"To not be on the file and to not be visible and ever-present throughout this whole crisis is dereliction of duty," she said. "I just find this totally reprehensible and unacceptable. It's an abysmal lack of leadership."
Mr. Clement said he has made sure his staff notified him about the outbreak at the proper time. While his office said Mr. Clement and Mr. Ritz have joint responsibility for managing the outbreak, the Prime Minister's director of communications, Kory Teneycke, said Mr. Ritz has the lead and Mr. Clement should not be criticized for being in Denver.

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