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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Massive recall of tainted beef hits Alberta plant

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 7/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   The political fallout is building as Canada faces its largest-ever recall of tainted beef.
   The list continues to grow of recalled beef products over possible E. coli contamination from the now-closed XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alberta.
   More than 1,500 XL products across Canada and the United States are on the recall list.
   The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the list could still grow as officials track beef from the affected plant to distributors, manufacturers and retailers.
   An Edmonton man, who is among five confirmed cases of E-coli illness, has launched a class-action lawsuit.
   Opposition Members of Parliament have attacked the Conservative government for its handling of the crisis and delay in notifying the public.
   Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government denied suggestions that spending and job cuts at the inspection agency aggravated the problem.
   The outbreak of E. coli was first detected on Sept. 4 but reports said it wasn’t until 12 days later the agency began recalling some of the products.
   Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said the plant that employs 2,000 people won’t be allowed to reopen until the agency is satisfied its products are again safe to eat.


   Stepping out of his famous father’s shadow, Justin Trudeau confirmed he will seek to become leader of the Liberal party with a goal of becoming prime minister.
   Trudeau, 40, the eldest son of the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau said the rebuilding of the once-mighty party will have to look to the future, not the past.
   He originally insisted he wouldn’t seek the leadership as he didn’t want to be away from his wife and young children, Xavier, four, and Ella-Grace, three.
   A former school teacher, Trudeau said he changed his mind after the party’s interim leader, Bob Rae, said he didn’t want the job permanently.
   The leadership convention to decide the new leader will be held in April.


   News in brief:
   - Canada’s top bankers say interest rates will rise “over the medium term” despite a weak economic recovery in other countries. “Some modest withdrawal of the present considerable monetary policy stimulus may become appropriate,” said Tiff Macklem, deputy governor of the Bank of Canada. The challenge now is to find good workers while previously it was creating good jobs, he said. There have been 770,000 new jobs created since the recession.
   - Omar Khadr, a known supporter of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and convicted of killing a U.S. medic, has been returned to Canada. The Toronto-born Khadr was transferred to a Canadian prison from U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to serve the rest of his sentence. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for the death of Delta Force Sgt. Christopher Speer in 2002 in Afghanistan. Khadr was 15 years old at the time.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at 1.0257 in U.S. funds while the U.S. greenback returns 97.48 cents Canadian before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,468 points and the TSX Venture index 1,345 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Oct. 3) 5, 15, 20, 25, 28 and 33; bonus 39. (Oct. 29) 2, 7, 18, 20, 41 and 48; bonus 29. Lotto Max: (Sept. 28) 5, 6, 32, 33, 39, 42 and 47; bonus 9.


   Regional briefs:
   - About a dozen brazen bears are making themselves at home on the Adams Lake First Nation reserve, near Kamloops, British Columbia. Chief Nelson Leon said the bears aren’t aggressive but have been outside houses and near a daycare center. Wildlife authorities are attempting to relocate the critters, who “basically figure they own the place,” Leon said.
   - They had themselves a 16-truck convoy with a police escort in Quebec. The protected treasure requiring all that protection was maple syrup being returned to a New Brunswick exporter. The syrup was part of one-million gallons worth about $30 million stolen from a warehouse. Quebec produces up to 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup with two-thirds exported to the United States.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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