Saturday, December 9, 2017

NDP leader irks farm worker advocates

 Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has run into a buzzsaw of criticism from farm worker sympathizers advocating for migrant workers’ rights.

Justice for Migrant Workers, a Toronto non-profit that promotes rights of farm workers participating in the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, criticized Singh for social media promotion of his visit to Windsor-area greenhouses, which they say are part of an industry that systematically exploits racialized migrants for profit.

The organization is pressing the NDP to include migrant worker protection in the party’s platform for the upcoming provincial election next year.

“This industry has basically been built on the blood sweat and sacrifices of low wage, racialized, precarious workers,” said Chris Ramsaroop, a Justice for Migrant Workers advocate.

“It’s concerning that Jagmeet was there to . . . support an industry that’s based on exploitation.”

Singh, who does not have a seat in the House of Commons, has said he is using his time outside it to travel the country and visit communities to build momentum for the party’s brand and ideas.
Ramsaroop said that when migrant workers come to Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, they’re uniquely susceptible to exploitation because of the conditions placed on them.
“By tying someone to a particular employer, what happens is that it silences workers and ensures that there’s a captive labour force,” Ramsaroop said. 
Nor do migrant workers here, under that program, have the option to apply for permanent residency.

Singh has been outspoken on these issues, and included access to legal aid for migrant workers in his leadership platform.

In an e-mail statement to the Toronto Star, Singh said he spoke with migrant workers during his weekend greenhouse visit, and “highlighted the need to increase pathways to citizenship.”

It looks to me like Justice for Farm Workers just wants to raise the profile of the issue and that it made Singh an unfair victim.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Province fines ethnic slaughterhouse

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has shut down an operation at a place that has no meat inspection certicate, yet allowed people to come there to slaughter lambs.

Prathab Nirupasingham told a judge in Lindsay that he was aware that people were using his property to slaughter lambs
He was fined $1,500 plus a victim surcharge of $375.
What surprises me is that OMAFRA has found and shut down so few of these operations. I have known for at least a decade that ethnic communities in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area routinely slaughter their own sheep and goats secretly and quietly on farm properties.
I told officials at the time what I had learned and, as far as I know, they did nothing.
And I suppose you could argue that there really is no victim in this crime.
In another case heard in court in Lindsay, Norman Weber, owner of Norm’s Smokehouse in Minden, was fined $3,000 plus a victim surcharge of $750 for operating a meat-smoking business without proper licensing.

He gave up his licence in late January, but inspectors found him still operating the business in late July.

In this case, I think Weber knew the law and that he was breaking it for personal gain. As far as I'm concerned, this type of person deserves to be heavily fined and should probably be barred from every processing and selling food.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Turkey stocks too high

Turkey stocks remain too high, say the directors of the Turkey Farmers of Canada national supply management agency.

But the Western provinces are opposed to an across-the-board production cut.

They say the stocks issue is only in Ontario and Quebec, not in their region of the nation.

As a result, they voted down proposals to reduce production across the board.

And then the directors decided it’s time to undertake a review of how they determine how many turkeys to produce. It’s been 10 years since that issue has been reviewed.

Massive fire at Paletta plant

A huge fire destroyed part of the Paletta International meat-processing plant in Burlington Wednesday.

The three-alarm fire was contained with the help of drones to identify hot spots within the burning building.

The Ontario Fire Marshall’s office has been called in to investigate.

The Paletta family has a chequered track record in the meat-packing industry, including arson that destroyed a plant they owned in Montreal, a bankruptcy of a beef-packing plant in Kitchener and a court victory after charges were laid for importing too much Australian beef.

It would be nice if this fire convinced the Paletta's to get out, and stay out, of the meat business.

There were several employees in the building near the busy intersection of the Queen Elizabeth Way and Appleby Line, but they escaped without injury.