Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Mad Canadian Disease

Thanks to a couple of my Canadian friends for sharing with me the fact that in the last couple of weeks, Americans have needed to get their news from Canada, and vice-versa.

First, my friend Todd was kind enough to send a link on U.S. news that I'm not hearing about here. It seems that the United States, quick to point the finger at Canada for mad-cow-tainted beef, already might have had a couple of cases that were covered up. I suppose it shouldn't come as a shock to see that the United States Department of Agriculture issued a complete denial. Clearly, someone is lying, so the question is, who's more likely to do so -- the scientists who no longer fear getting fired; or the USDA that wants to assure the American public that beef is safe? News like this makes me glad I gave the stuff up years ago. That being said, I wonder why I didn't see anything about this in the Washington Post. Maybe tomorrow (though if so it usually would have showed up on their website by now)?

In the other direction, my friend Debbie brought me up to speed on Adscam, a major scandal involving the Liberal Party, which has run Canada for over a decade. The details are long and complicated (and can be found here), but what's fascinating about the scandal is that the investigation had a gag order on it. The court was listening to testimony each day, that lots of people could attend, but the press wasn't allowed to talk about it. This got someone mad enough to tell a conservative American blogger those details, the blogger (safely in the U.S.) was telling the goings on, and Canadians by the truckload were checking out an American blog to find out what their own government has been up to. The gag order was finally lifted late last week, in a nice victory both for free speech and the right of the Canadian public to know what their government is up to.

It's a shame that scandals and cover ups are among the many things that Americans and Canadians have in common.


Debbie said...

I have a side note to what you've already posted. Actually a couple of notes. First, I firmly believe that we'll have a federal election soon. The Liberals have a minority government, and it will fall.

My second note has to do with bias in the media. Particularly CNN. In February a lab in Ohio sent out thousands of virus test kits to labs around the world. Reasoning behind this was for labs worldwide to gain proficiency at typing viral strains. Some 4000 labs are involved in this testing. A lab in Vancouver BC, quite accidently discovered that the viral strain sent out was an extremely dangerous strain. Quoting now from my local paper "The h2n2 strain hasn't circulated in the world since 1968, which means anyone born after that time would have no immunity to it, raising the spectre that if people suddenly did become exposed to it, a pandemic could result. In the 1957 flu pandemic, H2N2 killed up to 4 million people around the world." Now to the bias part. I was watching CNN last night, this story came on, it was fully reported that the lab had sent out the wrong virus samples, a graphic showed a map of the world with arrows pointing to all the places that the samples were sent to. There wasn't one arrow pointing to Canada, much less 20 arrows!! (20 labs in Canada were sent the virus test kits.) And, there wasn't one word that it was a Canadian lab that alerted WHO and the other powers that be.

Time and again I just shake my head at this blatant bias. This has happened so often it's unbelievable.

Debbie said...

I forgot to make a comment on the mad cow disease story. From what I can understand, there is no scientific basis for the USA to keep the borders closed to Canadian beef. The whole issue smacks of pure protectionism, and politics.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the posting, Aaron. I guess my biggest "beef" with the possible American Mad Cow cover-up isn't that the USDA may be disclaiming the occurance ever happened but that a Canadian system that proved it worked by detecting the BSE infected cow and notifying the public - as it is supposed to do - somehow discredited Canadian beef? Many of us only felt more confident in our homegrown product because these safeguards work!

Ottawa, CANADA