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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 19, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Huge cattle shipment during strike coup lor Paletta By TERRY McDONALD Herald Staff Writer Fifth of wries Copyright 1974 The Lethbridge Herald Seventeen months ago the meat packer who proposes to build a million plant in Fort Macleod pulled off a business deal that astonished many in the cattle and meat packing in- dustries. To capitalize on a meat shortage in Montreal, Larry Paletta organized the largest cattle shipment ever to go from Western to Eastern Canada, according to railway sources. In normal times, the shipment would have been extraor- dinary just because of its size. In mid-August 1973 it seemed an almost impossible venture. It was so risky, says one of the men who arranged the deal in Calgary, that CP Rail wanted no part of it. The problem was that railway non-operating employees were staging a series of regional rotating strikes. Rail traffic was severely crippled. Attempting to ship non-perishable goods was one thing. Even refrigerated perishables were worth a try. But shipments such as livestock or explosives were extremely risky in case they were stranded in the middle of a strike bound area. Lethbridge meat packing plants were able to ship only a fraction of their product east and so were forced to cut back production and lay off staff. To Mr. Paletta the situation was a once-in-a-lifetime oppor- tunity. The Montreal meat market was hungry for meat and meat prices were up because of the demand. Sources say the packer wanted to ship the cargo via CP Rail. But a CP Rail Montreal employee says the railway had an embargo on livestock and explosives from July 25 to Sept. 1 because of the strikes. He says: "When they put an embargo on it it has to be a pretty serious situation and the railway would only do that if it was absolutely necessary." CN accepted deal "We felt it was in the best interest of the customer to reject it until the settlement was reached. "When you have live cattle out on the line. we don't have facilities to feed them and water them, and the way the rotating strike was going it could hit anywhere at any time and if these cattle were stranded for two or three days it would have been a helluva mess. "So we just said no The Herald was told. Sources say Mr. Paletta then approached Canadian National and a CN marketing executive went for the deal. Why did CN break the embargo and risk the Paletta shipment' Says a Montreal public relations spokesman: "We must have known from the outset that we could do it." The objective was to leave Edmonton, pick up more cattle in Saskatoon and Brandon and Winnipeg, then head east with about animals At 8-40 p m Thursday, August 9, 1973 a train loaded with Palmont Packers Ltd. cattle rolled out of Edmonton heading east, CN officials told The Herald in October. The Alberta roundup for the shipment actually began in the Lethbridge area A few head here, a few there. All that could be found were'trucked to Calgary Then more than 800 were truck- ed to Edmonton where they were loaded and joined another 000 or so animals The train was in no particular rush. If it arrived at the Saskatchewan border before midnight it would have to wait to enter the province because the non-ops there were out on strike and weren't to report back to work until then. On the other hand, the tram had to be out of Alberta before 8 a.m. the next day because Alberta railway non-ops were to go out for 72 hours beginning then. And everything ran smoothly. The train picked up cattle in Saskatoon, proceeded to Brandon and Winnipeg, picking up more cattle in those cities. The train was now 68 cars long, almost a mile, CN Montreal officials have said. But since Ontario non-ops were on strike, the shipment was held up in Manitoba until the strike ended at 8 a.m. Sunday When the train entered Ontario, union officials there asked for guidance from strike headquarters in Montreal. Meanwhile, back in Manitoba non-ops went out on strike at 8 a.m Monday The union reply came from Dick Smith, chairman of the negotiating committee (luring the 1973 contract conflict The Herald interviewed Mr Smith in his Montreal office. "I don't know about it until it was on the move, then I said (to union locals) they should just follow instructions. And in- structions were to move all livestock, everything perishable to where they could be taken care of, where they could be said Mr. Smith "I have no idea of any opposition (to the train) on the way, if there was he said. The shipment dropped off more than animals to various customers in Toronto and arrived in Montreal slightly ahead of schedule Took hour to pass CN had planned a good-sized public relations splash over its success with the shipment. But it was planned for noon, and the train arrived at 9 a.m. Aug. 13 1.7 million pounds of beef on the hoof It arrived. And it arrived And it arrived It took more than one hour to pass certain spots, CN officials say. There waiting was Larry Paletta, with photographers recording the occasion for all time and reporters eager to hear more aDout this relatively-unknown meat packer who was to beef up meat supplies on the shelves of Montreal stores. CN clearly regarded the successful shipment as a victory of sorts or so the public relations message read loud and clear at the time. The news release began. "A cattle drive, 1973 style, ended in Montreal at 9 a.m. today. "That's when Canadian National delivered the first major shipment of livestock to Quebec since the start of selective strikes by non-operating railway personnel three weeks ago." The CN attitude toward that shipment has changed somewhat in the intervening 17 months. A public relations executive one day told The Herald con- fidently that information on the shipment would be plentiful the next day when the necessary marketing executive could answer questions and explain the scheduling and file. The next day, however, the answer was different The Herald was told the information was not available, after all. CN wondered why The Herald was looking into this ship- ment so many months after the deal had been completed. There was no file on the shipment, and the public relations spokesman said he didn't know why Files on shipments, especially unusual shipments like this one, were routinely kept, he said. The Herald has learned that police in three provinces are investigating the role of the shipper, the union and CN manage- ment in the shipment. In its latest attempt tc find cut more about the shipment, The Herald was told by CN officials in Edmonton Wednesday that the railway's legal advisers had recommended no release of information on the shipment. The news blackout was apparently ordered after dis- closures that meat packer Paletta was under investigation by Quebec police for possible links with Montreal meat wholesaler Willie Obront, who has been identified by the Quebec Police Commission's hearings into organized crime as an underworld financier. The LetHbrtdge Herald LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1974 15 Cents ROCKY PLEDGE TODAY WASHINGTON (AP) Nelson Rockefeller was headed for final congressional confirmation and a televised inauguration today as the 41st vice-president of the United States. The House of Representatives set aside six hours of debate but was not expected to take that much time before voting on Rockefeller's confirmation. The inauguration was scheduled an hour later in the Senate chamber, with live television coverage per- mitted for the first time in the Senate's history. U.S. quota abuse hurting beef price Ottawa pleased with sands offer BILL GROENEN photo in the wings Halos at the ready, two of the littlest angels, Lcrri Vair, left, and Sandra Bain wait with somewhat less than perfect angelic poise for their parts to begin in Westminster School's Christmas concert. Friday spells an end to school plays and concerts, one of the more delightful aspects of the Christmas season. News Services OTTAWA Alberta's offer Wednesday to allow financial participation in the develop- ment of the Tar Sands by Ot- tawa or interested provincial governments was welcomed by federal energy Minister Donald Macdonald as a "positive" move. Macdonald, who has said the federal government stood ready to invest in the develop- ment of the Tar Sands, gave no indication of the amount Ottawa might commit. "I look forward to the op- portunity to discuss with Alberta and other 'interested governments and parties the nature of the proposal for joint the energy minister said in a statement, "Any decision, of course, would be subject to Cabinet approval." The federal minister was responding to a telegram received only hours earlier from Alberta's minister of mines and minerals, William Dickie. Dickie announced that Syncrude Canada Limited, the consortium formed to build a Tar Sands plant, would "con- sider acceptable" the acquisi- tion by other governments of the interest held by Atlantic Richfield. Atlantic Richfield announc- ed 10 days ago that it was withdrawing from financial participation in the consor- tium. Ottawa announced im- mediately that it was interested in stepping in, but said any move would be dependent upon Alberta con- currence. In his statement, the Alberta minister said the province would consider the acquisition of the Atlantic Richfield shares by "the Parcels move TORONTO (CP) A 16- hour walko; t by postal maintenance workers ended Wednesday, but a post office spokesman today would not make any promises on Christ- mas delivery of a backlog of more than parcels and thousands of letters. federal government, the government of Ontario, the government of Quebec, or any other provincial governments, either separately or jointly." The statement did not men- tion the province of B.C. specifically, but Premier Dave Barrett first offered, more than a year ago, to invest B C. funds in the pro- ject. Barrett said as late as last Friday that the offer still stands. In Toronto, Energy Minister Darcy McKeough was non committal today about possi- ble participation by Ontario. "We just heard about this last Mr. McKeough said in an interview. "We're thinking about it." Mr McKeough recently refused comment when asked if Ontario may take up part of the 30 per cent investment in the project abandoned by Atlantic Richfield Canada Ltd Syncrude, at present a con- sortium of Imperial Oil Co. Ltd., Gulf Oil Canada Ltd. and Canada Cities Service Ltd., has asked Ottawa to conclude its assessment by mid January. The Syncrude plant, es- timated to cost about billion, is scheduled to go into operation in 1978, turning out barrels of syncrude oil daily. 8 Inside 36 Pages Classified .30-34 Comics .28 Comment, .19-21 Family .........24-26 Markets ..29 Sports...........15-17 Theatres 7 TV.............6 Weather.....3 Youth.......8 LOW TONIGHT 25; HIGH FRI. 35; SNOWFLURRIES. Syria sets peace talk deadline THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Syria has set a tentative six- month deadline for Middle East peace talks to resume in Geneva, but Israel is not eager to attend because the Soviets and possibly the Palestinians would par- ticipate. Syria's position was outlin- ed by President Hafez Assad in an interview with the In- dian magazine Blitz, publish- ed by Damascus newspapers today. Assad did not give the date the Geneva talks would resume, but said unless tangi- ble progress toward peace was made in the next six months the succeeding months will be full of dangerous possibilities. The Syrian leader said he hoped peacemaking efforts by the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Nations will help avert a new Middle East war By RIC SWIHART Herald Staff Writer A stronger, more encompassing quota on American cattle entering Canada for slaughter will be asked for by the Canadian Cattlemen's Association Friday. Chris Mills, secretary of the association, told The Herald this morning in a telephone interview abuses of the pre- sent quota restricting move- ment of United States slaughter cattle to Canada is driving the price for Canadian animals down. Heifer prices in Canada dropped to per hundred pounds from in one week as U.S. producers found more loop-holes in the Canadian quota, and shipped hundreds of animals north outside the quota. The Canadian quota restricts shipments of U.S. slaughter cattle more than 700 pounds to 100 per cent of the average shipments during the past five years. The quota doesn't affect cattle destined for feedlots if the animals re- main on feed more than 90 days or light weight feeder cattle CCA wants the quota ex- tended to cover all slaughter cattle ihe association will Deputy Minister S B. Williams in Ottawa Friday to press its demands. To get around the weight restriction, U.S cattlemen had been sending loads of cat- tle weighing different amounts. While some of the cattle were below the 700- pound restriction, many were found to be as heavy as 900 pounds. These loads had been averaged, allowing heavy slaughter cattle to circumvent the quota The Canadian government now requires that all animals be weighed individually, with cattle heavier than 700 pounds being returned to the U.S. Mr Mills said CCA also ob- jects to the distribution of the import quota The number of slaughter animals allowed to enter this country had been divided between Australia, New Zealand and the US Because Canadian cow prices are the lowest on record, the imports from Australia and New Zealand have been cut drastically. But part of the quota share from those two countries has been shifted to the U.S said Mr. Mills. He said pressure had been exerted on the government by eastern buyers to get more quota share for the U.S. This allows them to buy more cat- tle from the U.S. which have been declared free of the growth hormone Diethylstil- bestrol. Mr Mills said "slugs of DES-free cattle" are entering the East daily because of the shift in quota allocation, depressing the price for top quality Canadian cattle. Yule thumb MONTREAL (CP) Jean Desjardins, 18, got his Christ- mas present a bit early at Hotel Dieu Hospital Wednes- day when Dr. Jean-Paul Bosse gently tugged bandages off his right hand and revealed a newly-transplanted "thumb" that used to be a big toe Mr Desjardins, a resident of Val D'Or, 176 miles northwest of Montreal, had his right thumb amputated after it was damaged in a chain sprocket last June In an 11-hour operation by a team of seven surgeons Dec 6, Mr. Desjardins' right big toe became a thumb It was the first such trans- plant ir Canada, although the first toe-to-thumb graft was performed in England in 1969 Since 1971 about 15 such oper- ations have been done in the United States and some have been carried out in Australia and Japan. Mr Desjardins was left with a stub at the former site of his big toe on hs right foot. to avert problems with balance Dr. Bosse said Mr. Desjar- dins will be able to go back to his factory job in about four months No Herald Christmas The Herald will not publish Dec 25 and 26, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Ads for Friday, Dec 27, must be received by 5 p m Friday, Dec 20 and for Satur- day, Dec. 28, by 5 p m. Mon- day, Dec. 23. Ads for Monday, Dec. 30, must be in before noon Tuesday, Dec. 24. Classified advertisements taken up to 11 30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec 24, will appear Friday, Dec 27 Seen and heard About town Bob Tarleck wondering whimsically if Women's Place is anything like Boy's Club Matt Lipton asking a friend for the name of an eligible woman he can marry Keep the money coming and fill the cup So many friends! Thank you, Kathleen May Flynn of Lethbridge for sending 25 cups nf milk to a hungry child in Bangladesh That means something to us here at The Herald. Words can't express how much it means. Thank you, little Jody Berge of Taber, and Tammy Lynn and Michael Scott Kuhn of Foremost. Your gifts send 125 cups of milk to little children who really need it. Special thanks to children of Assumption School who came to The Herald Building Wednesday afternoon and sang their own song to all of us Let's not forget the Buck Krispie Cup of Milk Concert set to begin at p.m. Fri- day in the Yates Memorial Centre. Many fine performers headline the affair. Tickets are each, enough to buy 25 cups of milk. Many thanks, Room 104, St. Paul's School, Lethbridge. You helped" That's what counts. We can do it together. It takes thousands hut wp'll buy that milk! Special thanks to the Ray- mond Fifth Pack Cubs and leaders Lavelda Krisko and Lome Bishop for raising for the fund They held a raffle. The draw will be made Dec. 21 at the Cub Christmas Party at Raymond. Many thanks boys Donations are pouring in. We are deeply appreciative of each and every one of you. Can we do it9 Can we reach that goal? It looks mighty near impossible right noiv. But who knows, miracles can happen! Today we have in the fund. Bless you, Taber Central School students Many, many thanks, J. A. Danielson. Heaps of Christmas wishes to Lakeview School Students and the Nieboer family of Nobleford. We sure do appreciate your kindness, CGIT. Taber There are just too many to thank individually Let's not quit now We can move a lot of milk to Bangladesh. You better believe it1 We'll help those starving children We did it last year and we'll do it again this Christmas. Write Cup of Milk Fund. Lethbridge Herald. 2. List of contributors on Page ;