Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - November 26, 2004, Winnipeg, Manitoba
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2004
Freedom of Trade
COMMENT EDITOR: Terence Moore 697-7044 Liberty of Religion firstname.lastname@example.org Equality of Civil Rights
OUN. John Angus�s proposal to sell city water to East St. Paul is an idea with considerable merit. City council should ask the administra�tion to look at what a reasonable deal would include, and it could serve as a template for regional co�operation that would benefit the city, its municipal partners and the broader concerns of development in the capital area.
Winnipeg and the 13 municipalities that surround it have a long history of fractious relations. Lower property taxes and large country-based lots have lured Winnipeggers into rural areas, sucking money out of the city and contributing to urban decay. A
report on capital region development and co-opera�
tion a year ago called upon
the provincial government
to take the lead to control
rural growth, but little sig�
nificant action has been
seen so far. Smaller com�
munities continue to
attract housing developers
with cheap land and less
stringent requirements for
tary water and sewer ser�
vices help to keep rural
taxes low, but they have
also caused raw sewage to
be spilled into the Red River when septic fields on
relatively small lots are overwhelmed.
The city has for years rebuffed requests from ring municipalities for access to Winnipeg�s sewer and water services for fear such agreements would spur rural development to the city�s detriment. But there�s little evidence the city�s strategy has made a difference. Hundreds of fringe-community houses have been built each year. East St. Paul�s plan to build 350 houses does not rest upon access to city water but it would be cheaper to extend the city�s trunk line north into the development than to run East St. Paul�s pipes further south.
There is a fair market price for city water, as Mr. Angus noted. Any agreement to tap into Winnipeg�s water or sewer system should recognize there are also long-term costs associated with maintenance and renewal of that infrastructure. Winnipeggers have been paying for years into a reserve fund to improve the quality of its water with new technolo�gy. Taxpayers are facing a $700-million bill to over�haul city sewer pipes and treatment facilities to cut the amount of nutrients in the effluent that gets dumped into the Red River, and to correct the spillage of sewage directly into the river during extraordinary rainfalls.
The city�s well-developed infrastructure and its dependable source of drinking water are enticing to nearby communities that are struggling to accom�modate anxious developers. The appeal of service agreements can give the city real clout at the table when municipalities are deciding how to grow, indi�vidually or in regional discussions. In the absence of provincial leadership on regional development, Win�nipeg�s council can get the ball rolling by influenc�ing those plans in East St. Paul.
When justice fails
FEDERAL Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has taken a first step toward ensuring that Canadians who claim they have been wrongfully convicted are heard.
Mr. Cotler said this week that he is open to the idea of creating an independent commission to review claims of wrongful conviction, as is done in Great Britain. Mr. Cotler says he has concluded that the number of applications for reviews of convic�tions deemed wrongful is likely to continue to grow. But given that ministers of justice have �only finite time� to review them, �it is in the better interests of justice� that an independent body be created to take over the files so that they can be dealt with both thoroughly and quickly.
Mr. Cotler last month got a good look at just how clunky Canada�s system has become when he declared it �likely� that Steven Truscott was wrong�fully convicted 45 years ago and referred the case to the Ontario Appeal Court for review. The Truscott file had been in the hands of the Justice department for more than three years and it is expected that it will require three more years to wend its way through the courts. In Britain, where the Criminal Convictions Review Commission was established in 1997, it takes on average one year for panels of experts to review allegations of wrongful conviction and decide whether they merit a court review.
In the seven years that the CCRC has been in place, it has referred 88 murder convictions to the courts for review, resulting in 48 acquittals. In the same period, eight such referrals were made in Canada.
In addition, the idea of wrongful conviction is most often associated in Canada with murder con�victions � Mr. Truscott, Guy Paul Morin and David Milgaard, to name a few of the more sensational cases. But accused persons can be wrongfully con�victed of any crime, not just murder. The British system recognizes that wrongful conviction is wrongful no matter the severity of the charge. The following are just some of the charges other than murder that have been overturned as wrongful in Britain: Indecent assault; drug importation; rob�bery; bomb-making; manslaughter; obstruction of a highway; crossing a continuous white highway line; assault on a constable; conspiracy to cheat; decep�tion; driving disqualified; driving without insurance; perjury; forgery; buggery; wrongful wine produc�tion; tax evasion; possession of stolen goods; posses�sion of indecent photographs of children.
Mr. Cotler is right � he does not have enough time to deal with many and varied ways in which Canadi�ans are wrongfully convicted. He should create a review body that does.
The costs of factory farming
THE former U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian for one of the largest beef slaugh�terhouses in America says hamburger contains a lot more than just ground beef.
�Hormones, antibiotics, hair, feces, cancers, tumours,� says Dr. Lester Friedlander. �My plant in Pennsylvania processed 1,800 cows a day, 220 per hour. It also processed the highest number of downed cows, 25 to 30 a day� There is no question. Some can�cers end up in the human food source.�
Dr. Friedlander, who trained vets for the USDA and was a deco�rated employee during his 10 years with the agency, has given inter�views to all major Amer�ican TV networks. His repeated warnings about the threats to human health from factory farming have never been denied by his former employer. �They just keep saying �no comment,�� he jokes.
He brought his crusade for public health and the humane treatment of animals � the best way, he says, of ensuring a safer food supply for humans � to Winnipeg earlier this week. Accompanying him was B.C. physician Dr. Ray Kellosalmi, a founder of The Responsible Ani�mal Care Society (TRACS).
Corporate agribusiness and the almighty dol�lar are the culprits, Dr. Friedlander continues. The speed of a slaughterhouse assembly line is all that counts. Any delay costs about $5,000 a minute and the pressure on veterinarians to look the other way is intense � and tacitly demanded by their employer, the federal gov�ernment.
The current U.S. administration has altered regulations to allow slaughtering plants to erect walls to prevent USDA veterinarians from watching the killing line, Dr. Friedlander says.
Dr. Kellosalmi ratchets up the danger to human health a huge notch. Factory farming � keeping thousands of animals in close con�finement, necessitating high levels of antibi�otics � will be the breeding ground for the next global human pandemic, he warns. Already, the feeding of cattle offal to cattle has spiked an enormous increase in brain-wasting BSE in beef herds and Creutzfeldt-Jakob dis�ease in humans.
Even more worrying is that Nobel Prize win�ner Dr. Stanley Prussiner, who discovered pri�ons, the aberrant protein that triggers BSE and CJD, now believes prions may also cause Alzheimer�s disease. Dr. Kellosalmi says the number of Alzheimer�s deaths in the U.S. has spiked from 800 in 1979-80 to 50,000 in 2002.
Dr. Friedlander says the latest agribusiness profit maximizer is to feed chicken feces and dried urine to cattle. �At first, the cattle would�n�t eat it. So they added molasses. Cattle have a sweet tooth like us, so they licked it up � and ended up eating the feces stuck to it.�
The public must insist that the food safety regulatory function be separated from the gov�ernmental agency promoting corporate agribusiness, he continues. �We need a gen�uine, separate department of consumer pro�tection.�
The cost of today�s factory farming in ani�mal suffering is incalculable. If the cattle-stun�ner misses his target, tha animal can still be alive when the butchering starts. Pigs can face another agony: They can still be conscious when they are immersed in scalding water.
Horses are harder to kill because they are intelligent athletic animals who �won�t take pain sitting down,� Dr. Friedlander continues. Horses on the way to slaughter are forced to keep their heads down the whole time they are in transit because they are transported in the same alumimum double-deckers.
The new U.S. Homeland Security Act, fear�ing terrorist attacks on the food supply, has repealed former humane transport regulations requiring livestock to be periodically unloaded and fed and watered. Animals now must endure days without food and water at tem�peratures ranging from 40 below to 40 above. For horses, those days add another agony: the inability even to raise their heads.
Ferdinand, the Kentucky Derby winner in 1986, �ended up on someone�s dinner plate in Japan,� Dr. Friedlander says. �We will do this to an animal who brought our fathers across this continent, an animal who is an integral part of our history.�
Ireland�s brave effort to sober up
THE good name of Ireland was besmirched this week by prominent authorities of the Irish republic itself. It�s a long time since my ances�tors left Ireland, but I still feel a duty to stand up for the country�s reputation.
The national police force, known at the Garda Siochana, was announcing its annual attempt to discourage Irish motorists from driving while under the influence of alcohol. This year, for the first time, they are going to plant under�cover officers in bars to keep an eye out for drunks leaving the premises and climbing into their cars to drive away. This is necessary, they explained, as the Associated Press reports from Dublin, because 334 people have been killed in traffic in Ireland already this year, up 23 deaths from last year.
A doctor who studied traffic deaths in three counties of Ireland showed that 22 of 55 people killed on the roads of those three counties in a year had alcohol in their blood. Drunk driving was not the only problem he found: 10 pedes�trians run down and killed by vehicles had heavy concentrations of alcohol in their blood.
Now this seems to me like shoddy science. Not only is this painting a disgraceful picture of Irish motorists and pedestrians, it is also giving the world a totally misleading impres�sion of Irish customs.
The good doctor�s study was vitiated by the want of a control group. He studied the blood of 55 people killed in traffic accidents and now he makes a great issue of the fact that 22 of them were drunk, as though that had some�thing to do with the problem. But it may be that if you picked 55 Irish people at random you would find that a great many of them were drunk. The 55 accident victims he studied may be just a representative sample of the popula�tion at large. They may be less drunk than the survivors.
Alcohol consumption figures for the nations of the world show that most Czechs are either pouring a beer, drinking one or planning the next one at most times of the day. Russians, according to those who have studied the mat�ter, pause from drinking vodka long enough to wash it down with a pint of beer. Australians are famous for their support of the brewing industry. So why would we imagine that the only drunks in those three counties of Ireland were the ones the good doctor found dead in road accidents?
Is it not striking that 33 of the people who died in road accidents were sober and 22 were drunk? It is also noteworthy that most of the people in those counties did not die in road acci�dents, though we have no solid data on their state of sobriety.
On our one visit to Ireland, my wife and I were graciously received by the elderly gen�tleman who had taken over the grand country house where my paternal grandfather grew up, in county West Meath. We were under some pressure to hasten on to a dinner engagement, but our host urged us to share a drink with him
� �just a thimbleful,� he said, then poured us each a great tumbler full of Irish whisky. My wife, who can�t stand whisky, relied on me to deal with her thimbleful, which I had to do rather quickly because we were already a teeny bit late for dinner down the road. I believe we had a charming visit with the elder�ly gentleman and eventually turned up for din�ner, when they came and fetched us, though the events are a trifle hazy in my memory.
I have that moment and that thimbleful in mind as I read the reports about the attempts of the Garda to discourage drunk driving on the roads of Ireland. I am especially curious about the police officers who are going to hang around in bars watching for people who lurch out the parking lot.
Will the publican not notice that one of the customers on the premises has ordered nothing but tea all evening? Having spotted the under�cover policeman, will he omit to warn his reg�ular customers? The purpose of the program will be accomplished, of course, if bar cus�tomers, having been warned about the copper in the corner, call a taxi to take them home. But the Garda cannot be everywhere. There still are more pubs than policemen in Ireland, and in the bars where no policeman is noticed, the usual practices will probably prevail.
If the police officer assumes deep cover by matching the regulars, beer for beer and thim�bleful for thimbleful, he will be in no state to carry out his duties for the defence of road safety. I wish the Garda well. I wish the drinkers well. In fact, I�ve half a mind to order a round for all of them.
� 2004 Winnipeg Free Press, a Division of FP Canadian RUDY REDEKOP Newspapers Limited Partnership President FP Canadian Newspapers Limited PartnershipPublished seven days a week at 1355 Mountain Avenue, MURDOCH DAVIS / Publisher Winnipeg Free Press est 1872 / Winnipeg Tribune est 1890 Winnipeg, Manitoba R2X 3B6, PH: 697-7000 NICHOLAS HIRST / Editor