Tag Archives: “Dr. Ian Alexander”

Destructive, Damnable, Deceits and Denials

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Kim Craitor, Ontario Liberal MPP for Niagara Falls, Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake, came forward recently to applaud the “Stop Slaughtering Us” billboard erected on August 19th in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  The billboard,  located near the US/Canadian border,  informs viewers that horses are being slaughtered in Canada for their meat when they are not raised as food-producing animals.

MPP Craitor stated that “In conversation with the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) and after reviewing materials on horse slaughter in Canada, I was shocked to discover the scope of the issues and concerns within this industry.” He continued, “I fully support NDP MP Alex Atamanenko’s Bill C-322 that would prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption.  It was very troubling to learn that over 80,000 horses were killed for their meat last year in Canada, and that the majority were transported here from the U.S.”

citycouncilToronto City Council has also voted in support of federal Bill C-322 and is calling for the Province of Ontario to prohibit the sale, movement and shipment of horses in Ontario for the purpose of slaughter.  NDP Whip and MP for Hull-Aylmer, Nycole Turmel is onboard and opposed to horse slaughter.  We hope that Liberal MPP Craitor’s support is just the beginning, as more horse advocates continue to promote factual information to their political representatives.

Despite the hard-won advances we’ve made in Canada with various postcard and email campaigns, the scintillating truth of our beliefs doesn’t always mean that it will be obvious to other politicians. I can only wonder why so many Liberal and Conservative politicians continue to hold contrary and downright incorrect viewpoints about horse slaughter.  What could their motivations be? Cognitive limitations? Perhaps they are simply lying to themselves (denial) – that is my gut reaction. Perhaps they’re trying to save their skins after being vested in their belief system for so long that it would be embarrassing to admit that their opinions deserve instantaneous and categorical dismissal.  And what other information have they provided to their constituents that is just plain wrong?

When John Stuart Mill labeled British Conservatives “the Stupid Party” in the 19th century, he apparently started a long-term trend. Ronald Reagan, after all, was an “amiable dunce,” and Vice President Dan Quayle told a student in a spelling bee that potato had an “e” at the end of it.  Numerous commentators questioned George W. Bush’s intellectual capacity, and Sarah Palin has long been criticized as a dim bulb.  And Canadian Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper has said that he enjoys “twerking” but only does it with close friends and “every now and then with President Obama.”

While the US zoos close, the Congressional zoo remains open.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper has once again shuttered Parliament, proroguing the Commons until mid-October in a move that ensures he won’t face opposition Bruce Stantonquestions on the Senate expenses scandal for an extra month. But of all the Canadian politicians you may have the opportunity to reach out to, there are few more exasperatingly devoid of the facts on horse slaughter than MP Bruce Stanton of Simcoe North, Ontario.  MP Stanton will delete any messages and block you from his FB page if you are not a constituent – no matter what you write.  As a result of posting horse slaughter info on his page, I am now blocked.  I can understand that he won’t have time to address non-constituents, but to BLOCK Canadians from his page is really outlandish behaviour for a politician. However, Facebook isn’t “all that” and we can still reach MP Stanton (and see what he’s up to) via OpenParliament.ca  You can also track MP statements in House debates via this site.  He doesn’t appear to care much for the facts of horse slaughter, but he’s quite enamoured with men’s curling and speaks very eloquently about Valentine’s Day.

As you can read from his communications with horse advocate and constituent Ann Marie, he adamantly insists that “horsemeat producers raise horses for the sole purpose of human consumption.”  And he refuses to respond to her requests for information on these direct-to-market meat horses.  Not only that, Stanton also insists that horsemeat is the “third largest exported meat in Canada,” and provides about $2 billion to the Canadian economy every year.  This is very odd indeed, especially since Dr. Ian Alexander of the CFIA wrote to me in August of this year and specifically indicated that the horsemeat market in Canada is worth $36 million.  Even if you mistakenly assumed that all slaughtered Canadian horses were “farmed,”  you still couldn’t stretch the truth far enough to turn a $36 million dollar industry into a $2 BILLION industry.  Looks to me like MP Stanton has stretched the truth until it’s elliptical in order to further the anti-animal Conservative party agenda.  It’s time to throw MP Stanton under the bus for making these claims.

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There appear to be various ways to evaluate Stanton’s statement that horsmeat is Canada’s third largest meat export, but none of them make any sense when compared to beef and pork exports.  For instance,  do we include animals sent for “finishing” to other countries in those export numbers?  Or do we consider only processed meats as part of those numbers?  In any case,  it’s completely unclear to me how horsemeat ranks as a $2 billion dollar export market,  especially when Canadian beef exports to all countries are estimated at $1.21 billion,  with almost 600,000 head of feeder and fed cattle being exported to the US for finishing and slaughter.  Somehow, MP Stanton expects us to believe that horsemeat exports EXCEED those of BEEF?  Additionally, in 2012, 21.1 million pigs went to market in Canadian plants. In addition, 804,000 head went to processing facilities in the United States and 4.79 million head of feeder hogs went for feeding and finishing on United States farms.  In 2012,  Canada exported in excess of 135 million chicken carcasses and parts, and over 19 million turkey carcasses and parts.  These numbers for other species are of course, not even remotely comparable to the roughly 100,000 horses of both American and Canadian origin slaughtered in Canada each year.  And so we continue to whittle away at MP Stanton’s statistics on meat exports.

NDP MP Alex Atamanenko in front of Calgary Animals' Angels Billboard

NDP MP Alex Atamanenko in front of Calgary Animals’ Angels Billboard

Sadly, Stanton’s opinion is only a symptom of what is wrong with Whip politics.  A Whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party’s “enforcers,” who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy. A whip’s role is also to ensure that the elected representatives of their party are in attendance when important votes are taken. The usage comes from the hunting term “whipping in”, i.e. preventing hounds from wandering away from the pack.

Votes on Private Members’ bills such as Bill C-322 are supposed to be free votes, thus making “dissent” (or rebellion) impossible since there is nothing to rebel against. The fact that such votes are considered “dissent” only serves to illustrate how pervasive the use of the Whip is in the House of Commons. Simply put, party discipline reigns supreme, and both Conservative and Liberal MPs tow the party line.  So it’s reasonable to assume that MP Stanton’s incorrect statements on horse slaughter and horsemeat exports are probably just an overall symptom of the Conservative party malaise.

We do know that MP Alex Atamanenko will be debating Bill C-322 soon,  once Parliament resumes later this month.  Please join the Facebook campaign to email Canadian City Councillors,  MPPs,  and MP’s.  Ask them for their support, and to put forward a Motion for their cities to support Bill C-322, as was done in Toronto.    And props to Ann Marie for so tenaciously correcting MP Stanton.

“Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.” ~ Alfred A. Montapert

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

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Silence of the CFIA Lambs….

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passport medsWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

July 31st, the supposed EU deadline for implementing a traceability system for horses in Canada, is a date that has come and gone.  Although many pro-slaughter advocates maintained that we all made up that date, it clearly originated from the GAO report on horse slaughter – Horse Welfare – Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter.

“Furthermore, effective July 31, 2013, the European Union will require lifetime medication records for all horses slaughtered in non-European Union countries before accepting imports of horsemeat from those countries. According to APHIS and horse industry sources, these requirements could result in shippers certifying that their horses are free of medication residues without having first-hand knowledge or documentation of the horses’ status for the previous 180 days.”

cash paid for unwanted horsesEarlier in July I wrote to the CFIA to find out what was going down on July 31st.  While Dr. Alexander, Chief Veterinary Officer for the CFIA’s response did address some of the questions I posed in a letter, it also leaves some other questions completely unanswered or open to interpretation.  The most obvious acknowledgement by the CFIA is that the EU has apparently extended the date two or three years into the future, not that we will be ready by 2015 or 2016 either.  They’re really hedging their bets by including two possible implementation dates too!  Just in case they can’t get it together by 2015, well, there’s always next year!  Lather, rinse and repeat……..

Of course,  restrictions and deadlines hardly bothered the CFIA in the past,  but now they have this passport system with which to contend – a detailed electronic log of a horse’s lifetime veterinary record and the drugs it has been given— including, but not limited to phenylbutazone, which is banned entirely, must not have been given to the horse in at least the last 180 days prior to slaughter or they can not be imported into EU nations.  Canada tried to implement traceability for horses before,  and seemed to give up after spending almost $500,000 to find out that it was unworkable,  no doubt due in part to the fact that many Canadian horse owners just don’t seem to be interested in paying for microchips and barn calls to satisfy third party concerns about the eligibility of our horses for meat.

Click to embiggen and read the entire letter.

Click to embiggen and read the entire letter.

Also of interest is the fact that Dr. Alexander tells us that the horsemeat market in Canada is worth $36 million, while we’ve always known it to generate around $70 million in the recent past.  Exactly what happened to halve the revenue of this industry in 2012?

Put down any beverages you are currently drinking, because you’ll probably  choke when you read that Dr. Alexander believes that the EID system is just as effective as the passporting system!  Well, perhaps he’s not really wrong, since they are both completely falsifiable and corruptable.  We saw this during the EU lasagna adulteration scandal early this year, where meat has for years been extruded through a supply system that could hardly be more opaque,  and foreign gangsters and mafia were secretly adulterating the food supply with profit as the main incentive.  This is hardly much different than what happens currently In Canada, (minus the organized crime connection) where the EID system provides as much traceability as does buying meat off the street from a stranger.

missingNotice also that “technical support” is being offered to both Equine Canada and Canada’s #1 slaugherphile Bill DesBarres of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada.  Is that CFIA-speak for throwing money at both groups?  Apparently, Canada can’t learn from the EU’s mistakes – we’re going to have two separate and distinct databases?  The same problems in the EU system – lack of control over the inputs into the database and duplicated records would happen here, and it would be even worse with two systems.  The EU has since realized that there were too many opportunities for unscrupulous people to make changes to the database, and are tightening up controls in that respect.  What gives veterinarians the idea that they should have any business involving themselves in the architecture and implementation of databases anyway?

I love the closing paragraph on Alexander’s correspondence, – they’ve got an “action plan to not stop exporting equine meat products to the EU Market.”  That’s right,  no matter what,  they’ll jury-rig the system and bamboozle the EU in order to maintain the status quo.  Of course they don’t allude to what their plans entail.  Whatever could the CFIA have told the EU to make them think we have a system with any credibility whatsoever?

The CFIA was given the dual and conflicting mandate to promote agri-food trade and sales,  as well as ensure food safety. That agency has a role to play in preventing the crime of allowing adulterated

Agriculture Minister and failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz

Agriculture Minister and failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz.  Live export, horse slaughter, exploding sausages, lavish expenditures, and the downloading of responsibility for our food inspection to the un-elected private sector. Somebody stick a fork in Gerry Ritz. I think he’s done.

horsemeat into the market, but it’s clear that they should not be in charge of food protection whilst simultaneously sending the inexplicably still-employed Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz and others on missions around the world promoting trade.

Food safety in Canada has jumped the shark.  There’s just too much allegiance to old, outdated systems operating purely on faith.  Horses are not living beings exploited by this industry and its participants, but “products” to be exported like lumber.  Oh Canada, what have we got to be proud about when it comes to our treatment of horses?

Down To The Wire

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horse out of timeWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Last October slaughterphiles in the US and Canada watched in horror as all their latent fears came true.  Despite holding on to the promise of horse slaughter as tight as a tick on a long-tailed mare, they watched and listened in disbelief as Claude Bouvry inexplicably ceased to accept American horses for slaughter for a weekend.  No one had any notice and certainly no clear explanation, despite lots of theories about residues and EU audits.  If they were following the plot,  these slaughterphiles would really be losing control of their sphincter muscle right about now because that temporary panic was just practice.  We’re now less than two weeks ago from the July 31st deadline, as originally identified in the GAO report.  But.  since many pros are notoriously unprepared and unaware of issues surrounding horse slaughter (they blithely ignore most evidence of cruelty),  most of them refuse to believe that horse slaughter might someday go away.

Nobody in the horse industry had ever heard of July 31,2013 as some sort of drop-dead date.  That is until it was included in the GAO report, which declared July 31st as the date that the EU would require lifetime medication records for all horses slaughtered outside of the EU.  While there’s a big rush to launch traceability for horses in Canada,  no one knows or will elaborate on what,  if anything,  this date means to horse slaughter in Canada.

A few months back I contacted Equine Canada asked them pointedly whether there was a big rush to get traceability implemented in Canada, and asked them specifically about that magic date.  They told me they had no idea to what I was referring, and asked me to contact some soulless minion at the CFIA, who of course never responded.

A few weeks ago I wrote to Dr. Ian Alexander in the hopes that he might let me know if I had to run to out and get a Premise ID for my “farm,” or whether we might be able to look forward to a seriously diminished Canadian horse slaughter enterprise in less than 2 weeks.

passing-of-timeOf course, I don’t have an answer yet, and maybe I never will.  Or maybe I’ll get the standard form letter that assures me that the CFIA has everything under control.  But in addition to the temporary slaughter shut-down in October, there’s more foreshadowing of what might come down the pipeline,  if not in two weeks,  but eventually.  Like the hammer of an auctioneer at the end of an auction or a judge at the end of a trial, said hammer will also fall on us.

There are many hints that food adulteration is becoming increasingly intolerable to our trading partners:

Ractopamine,  a growth promoter,   is given to beef cattle during their last 4-6 weeks, to pigs in their last 4 weeks, and turkeys for their last 1-2 weeks.  The Bureau of Veterinary Drugs, Health Protection Branch of the Health and Welfare Department of Ottawa here in Canada found that rats fed ractopamine experienced a cluster of birth defects such as cleft palate, open eyelids, shortened limbs, missing digits, enlarged heart, and protruding tongue.

In 2002, the FDA accused Eli Lilly. the manufacturer of Paylean, the brand name for ractopamine for pigs, of a cover-up on the dangers of the drug in animals.    There was no mention in documents submitted during Paylean’s approval process of numerous phone calls from farmers reporting that their animals vomited after consuming feed containing Paylean or that they had become hyperactive or had died as a result of exposure to the drug.

Inexplicably, the FDA went on to approve ractopamine for cattle the following year even after sending a warning letter to Elanco (a subsidiary of Eli Lilly) on its deception and abuse of the approval process of Paylean for pigs.

Even though the FDA rolled over on ractopamine, other countries paid attention to the scandal with the growth enhancing drug banned in Russia, Europe, Taiwan and China where an estimated 1,700 people were “poisoned” from eating Paylean-fed pigs.  You know that the industrial food system is fucked-up when the Russians know more about our food system than we do.

South Korea has banned and then un-banned US wheat.  This comes after the announcement about the contamination of US commercially grown wheat with Monsanto’s genetically modified wheat.  It was un-banned earlier this month after Ian Alexander dunce caption1samples showed all were free of the unapproved genetically-modified wheat strain.

Meanwhile, Canada is renovating our parliamentary buildings to cleanse them of asbestos, which of course causes cancer. While doing so, the Canadian government is still pushing exports of asbestos to third-world countries. Canada has even gone so far as to argue a challenge at the World Trade Organization that a proposed French ban on asbestos imports would be an illegal trade practice. Despite recent warnings that asbestos was the cause of hundreds of thousands of cancer victims in Europe, Canadian asbestos producers continue to promote and sell it worldwide to developing nations.  It’s the new tobacco – find a market for toxic goods and pawn it off on the poor brown people of the world.  It’s really embarrassing to be a Canadian when you know that your government is implicated in shit like this,  but what would you expect from a country that hasn’t revised its animal protection laws significantly for 200 years and still promotes the seal hunt and ignores the issues with horse slaughter?

So the point is that our trading partners are fickle groups, and at any point in time we can become the recipient of the fickle finger of fate.  The world is becoming more aware of the health hazards of food contamination through animal rearing activities.  Which is really ironic since most horses aren’t actually “reared” for food.  There is no such thing as an animal that is duel purpose – meaning an animal that is a pet to most AND also one that is used as a food source.   We have pet animals and food animals – not both.

You can read the letter to Dr. Alexander below:

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“Dear Dr. Alexander,

Under regulations of the Health of Animals Act, Canada has a mandatory identification program for cattle, bison and sheep. Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) have expanded that program to include horses.  According to AAFC, horses are functional livestock and are part of the national ID and traceability strategy for animal health and food safety reasons.

Equine Canada, the comprehensive national governing body for equestrianism, is responsible for developing a national equine-specific program (CanEQUID) to satisfy federal government requirements for identification and traceability for equines.  This program would somehow have to be imposed upon US horses coming to Canada as well,  since, after spending several years and millions on the National Animal Identification System , (NAIS) the U.S. Department  of Agriculture (USDA) apparently scrapped the effort and turned responsibility for livestock identification over to the 50 states and various tribal nations.  But for horses sent to Canada for slaughter,  Americans would also have to adopt the UELN, which may result in greater scrutiny for premises ID than that currently experienced for gun control.

Also simultaneously moving forward are the new CFIA meat hygiene directives that affect horsemeat – as of July 31st this year, Canadian slaughter facilities will require complete health records dating back six months.  This would apparently phase-out the often fallaciously completed Equine Information Document (EID), which has failed to assure EU members that drugs are not entering the food chain.   The deadline (July 2013) was created in an exchange between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and SANGO, which is the EU’s version of the CFIA. The working group which includes the CFIA,  Agri-Food Canada,  Health Canada,  the slaughterhouses,  provincial horse groups and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.  You can also read the reference to the July 31, 2013 date in the GAO report – (page 13)  It states:

Ian Alexander kool-aid“Furthermore, effective July 31, 2013, the European Union will require lifetime medication records for all horses slaughtered in non-European Union countries before accepting imports of horsemeat from those countries. According to APHIS and horse industry sources, these requirements could result in shippers certifying that their horses are free of medication residues without having first-hand knowledge or documentation of the horses’ status for the previous 180 days.”

What action is supposed to be undertaken by the EU on July 31, 2013?    It seems clear that the EU is referring to traceability here, which would seemingly eliminate the EID.  Would you be able to explain what action Canada will be taking with regard to horsemeat shipments after this date?

Here’s the CanEquid  Strategy document.

The CanEQUID model is based on an electronic passport system with an individual record for each horse. The electronic passport record will include:

  • Unique identification information, including a unique lifetime number
  • Horse ownership information
  • Home farm premises information
  • Premises date and location where horses co-mingle for industry activities
  • Horse health records related to a horse’s status for processing
  • Traceability events – health certificates issued, transport manifest documents issued, etc.

Is Canada’s traceability program going to work for U.S. horses?  It doesn’t seem possible,  since no one in Canada can attest to an individual horse’s status for slaughter.

If a traceability system is not in place by July 31st, what does Ag-Canada anticipate will happen to horsemeat shipments?  Is it likely that this date will be extended?”

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Survey Results Reveal That Traceability Does Little to Alleviate Concerns About Horsemeat……

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testing horsemeatWritten by Heather Clemenceau

First of all, thanks to everyone for completing the survey I launched in a previous blog,  and for sharing your opinions.  In this survey I don’t claim to provide options for pro-slaughters to render an opinion here, as most people following this blog are vehemently opposed to horse slaughter.  So the questions are mostly open and non-leading, but only if you’re of the anti-slaughter sentiment!

After numerous missed deadlines or the complete absence of functional plans and infrastructure,  we have about two months to go in Canada before we find out what happens with equine traceability.  We know Ag-Canada and Equine Canada won’t be ready, but what will the EU do about it?  They are well aware that the Canadian slaughter system  is  unreliable, dangerous to the global food supply and one to avoid emulating should the U.S. resume slaughtering horses for human consumption, as is being proposed. If the EU decides to continue with the status quo, they are no doubt aware that the EID does not prevent adulterated meat from reaching the consumer. It can’t, because the document doesn’t guarantee anything.   It’s also become more obvious to Canadians that the CFIA is populated with many veterinarians who are quick to respond to news articles to defend food safety practices – but unless they are trained in public health and willing to put public health front and centre, they should refrain from providing false assurances of safety or meddling in food processing operations.  This is certainly true for Dr. Ian Alexander,  who has an Honours B. Sc. degree in Biology and an M. Sc and Ph.D in Veterinary Pharmacology/Toxicology as well as a Doctorate of Veterinary of Medicine from the University of Guelph – but – apparently no public health experiences or epidemiological course of study. It’s absolutely astounding to me that with his education he can blithely dismiss the CFIA testing protocols for horsemeat as remotely accurate.

Traceability is “the ability to systematically identify a unit of production, track its location and describe any treatmenhorse-meatts or transformations at all stages of production,  processing and distribution.”  (Archipelago, 2005)

A takeaway from the food fraud/mislabelling scandal in the EU tells us that no amount of tracking without DNA species analysis at critical junctures would have prevented this fraud.  If all these big chains with their food-safety-is-first traceability schemes don’t know what’s in the products they’re hawking, how are mere mortals and consumers to know?

Equine Life Numbers Liz Brown

Journalist Liz Brown has researched equine traceability for Horse-Canada. Please click on the graphic to embiggen and read the entire article as a PDF.

The concerns with EU horsemeat scandal  and the North American experience have been reflected in the survey.  While 43.9% of the respondents believed that disease-tracking would be an important outcome of such a system,  66.7% of those same individuals would not voluntarily opt-in to a program.  Perhaps related to an earlier statement from Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis regarding slaughterhouses providing 72 hours to claim (and pay associated costs for) a stolen horse  from a plant,  63.2% of those surveyed do not believe a tracking program would significantly prevent horse theft.   I don’t believe attitudes towards traceability for horses result only from cost or other confounding elements of the program, but from past experience with and knowledge of players in the horse slaughter industry itself.  Traceability will do nothing to make slaughter humane,  assure them  food, water, or rest in crowded trucks in which they are often seriously injured or killed in transit.

Recent high profile food recalls and enhanced consumer awareness have made traceability a high level issue across the supply chain, from manufacturer to consumer. Even though I have a philosophical objection to it,  journalist Liz Brown has written extensively about the inevitability of  traceability in Canada – her research on the program is available by clicking on the article to the left.

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Further reading:

Star Investigation:  Ottawa refuses to say whether drug-tainted horsemeat entered food chain

Star Investigation:  Drugged horses slipping through inadequate food system

Saving Holly:  Destined for dinner tables,  Star joins race to rescue drug-filled mare from slaughter

What We’ve Got Here is Failure To Communicate…..

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Failure to CommunicateIn September,  Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced that Dr. Brian Evans,  who was making some sort of lateral move (perhaps closer to the door?) was being replaced by Dr. Martine Dubuc Chief Food Safety Officer and Dr. Ian Alexander Chief Veterinary Officer.   Of course,  no announcement from the CFIA can ever be made without the requisite statements about Canada having a “strong food safety system founded on sound science and aligned with international standards.”  Yawn.

Of course,  statements such as these seem contradictory when it’s realized that,  even though it apparently takes two people to replace Dr. Evans,  the CFIA is slashing jobs and budgets  elsewhere.  In April of this year,  Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair`s website foretold of the impending doom,  when he wrote that Less food inspection could mean another tainted food crisis, more serious illnesses or worse.  Over 100 food inspectors,  hired after the listeriosis outbreak (which Ritz mocked) in 2008 will now be slashed,  which puts us at the pre-listeriosis levels in terms of staffing.  In total,  the CFIA will be jettisoning 308 jobs.

Malcolm Allen, NDP Critic for Agriculture and Agri-Food, wrote that “These cuts put Canadians’ lives at risk.  We could have another listeriosis crisis on our hands. People could get sick, or worse, they could lose their lives.”  A new food safety report released by the Conference Board of Canada says rates of food-borne illnesses in Canada are higher than the United States. Canadians suffer more often from salmonella, e. coli, campylobacter and yersinia than Americans, according to the report prepared by the Centre for Food in Canada.

Dr. Brian Evans being interviewed by CBC

Dr. Brian Evans being interviewed by CBC

Horse welfare advocates have no experience with these two replacements for Dr. Evans,  who seems to be perpetually unaware of serious horse cruelty infractions occurring within his purview.  Even though he appeared to be forthright on the CBC video No Country for Horses, he is confronted about cruelty issues and accusations that the inspectors working in Bouvry and Richelieu were ordered to ignore their own rules.  If you`re watching the video – check out the horse at the 1:55 minute mark – this horse is ineligible for slaughtering because it is exhibiting stereotyping behaviour,  – compulsive shaking of its head.

Of course,  now that we have two new people replacing Dr. Evans,  you might think that the organization might be a bit more responsive in issuing food hazard alerts,  yet it was revealed that the CFIA waited nearly two weeksto issue a public health alert after learning that beef from an Alberta plant was contaminated with a potentially deadly bacteria. Even then,  it was not the CFIA that discovered the contamination,  it was the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Agency that made the discovery.  The plant with the contamination problem – XL Foods,  has been suspended from operations for shipping 890,000 pounds of contaminated beef to the US.  Looks to me like this has the potential to become the next listeriosis crisis,  as foretold by Thomas Mulcair and Malcolm Allen.

Unfortunately,  government inability to respond quickly to threats and challenges also doesn`t bode well for our horses.  Most everyone in Ontario is familiar with the backstory here – seeking sources of funding to address a $15-billion deficit, the Ontario government decided to terminate a program that sent $345-million from slot-machine revenues to tracks and horsemen in 2011. The decision will result in the loss of up to 60,000 jobs, according to the draft of a government-commissioned report prepared by McKinsey & Company. By comparison, General Motors announced plans in June to shut down a consolidated line at its plant in Oshawa, Ont., a move expected to cost 2,000 jobs in June of 2013.

A week ago I sent a copy of a CHDC action-alert letter reflecting the concern for up to 13,000 racehorses being slaughtered with prohibited drugs in their system, to both Dr. Martine  Dubuc and Dr. Ian Alexander,  Dr Evans’ replacements.  I figured that if you can’t interest them in the cruelty angle,  at least try to get them to commit to following their own meat hygiene guidelines.  I asked them to clarify how the CFIA intends to ensure that no racehorses enter the slaughter pipeline during this period of crisis when breeders, owners and trainers begin to offload their animals.

These drugs could include:

Table 1.  Therapeutic Medications Routinely Used and Identified as Necessary by the Veterinary Advisory Committee — (Racing Medication and Testing Consortium [RMTC] draft list of therapeutic medications, 2005) 

1. Acepromazine 17. Dipyrone 33. Omeprazole
2. Albuterol 18. Flunixin 34. Pentoxifylline
3. Aminocaproic Acid 19. Fluprednisolone 35. Phenylbutazone
4. Atropine 20. Fluphenazine 36. Phenytoin
5. Beclomethasone 21. Furosemide 37. Prednisolone
6. Betamethasone 22. Glycopyrrolate 38. Prednisone
7. Boldenone 23. Guaifenesin 39. Procaine Penicillin
8. Butorphanol 24. Hydroxyzine 40. Pyrilamine
9. Cimetidine 25. Isoflupredone 41. Ranitidine
10. Clenbuterol 26. Isoxsuprine 42. Reserpine
11. Cromolyn 27. Ketoprofen 43. Stanozolol
12. Dantrolene 28. Lidocaine 44. Testosterone
13. Detomidine 29. Mepivacaine 45. Triamcinolone
14. Dexamethasone 30. Methocarbamol 46. Trichlomethiazide
15. Diazepam 31. Methylprednisolone 47.  Regumate
16. DMSO 32. Nandrolone 48. Dermorphin

Instead,  what I received back from Dr. Alexander was this:

Dr. Ian Alexander letter

Dr. Ian Alexander letter

As you can read,  it completely misses the salient points – those being that racehorses,  the ones who are now being declined by Bouvry and Richelieu for complicated drug issues that do not pass muster with the CFIA`s own meat hygiene manual for horses may be entering the food chain,  and what was the CFIA going to do about it?  As form letters go,  I`ve seen more articulate letters to Santa Claus.  To knowingly send a horse to slaughter for human consumption when that animal has been administered non-permitted drugs is a federal offence.  This concern cannot be over-emphasized, as illustrated in a U.S. study performed on 18 American racehorses who were sent for slaughter after receiving phenylbutazone, Dodman et al, 2010 Association of Phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk.  Food and Chemical Toxicology 48:1270-1274.

Phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory drug, is a carcinogen and even tiny amounts can cause aplastic anemia, particularly in children.  Clenbuterol, a bronchodilator that is used in the racing industry not only to enhance breathing but to build muscle, can cause symptoms of acute food poisoning (gross tremors of the extremities, tachycardia, nausea, headaches and dizziness).  Not only that,  but how do the CFIA plan to explain away the existence of dermorphin (frog juice) in horses sent for slaughter in Canada?  And why does it seem as if the racing industry can detect drugs in horses more expediently than can the CFIA?

I swear I would last a maximum of one week in a government job – I couldn’t stand the obfuscation.  “Processing”  is something you do to a roll of Kodak film,  not to horses!  With talk like that,  Dr. Alexander is about as credible as Bill DesBarres and his BFF’s  Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis and Dave Duquette.