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Listeria Outbreak Alarms Walkerton Survivors

August 29, 2008

BROCKTON - Mayor Charlie Bagnato expressed his astonishment and disappointment today that Prime Minister Stephen Harper´s government appears to have learned nothing from the Walkerton tragedy as it pushes forward with deregulation and privatization of key services to protect Canadians as the country suffers through a deadly listeria outbreak.Mayor Bagnato said that after what happened in Walkerton eight years ago, it´s discomforting to realize that so little was learned as Canadians live through a national listeria outbreak that has killed more than a dozen people.

Bagnato, mayor of the municipality that includes Walkerton, where seven people died and many more became ill because of poisoned tap water, noted there are currently three federal Conservative cabinet ministers shaping policy for the Harper government who also sat around the Mike Harris cabinet table when decisions were made to cut programs, privatize and deregulate. "All in the same to save a few dollars," said Bagnato, who expressed his sincere condolences to families who have lost loved ones due to the listeria outbreak.

"Governments should have learned from the mistakes that led to the tragedy in Walkerton. I am completely shocked that Mr. Harper has opted to make the same mistakes nationally that led to our disaster. Food security and public safety should never be placed on the chopping block in the name of cost cutting. Food safety is not just a line item in a budget; it is about keeping our families safe."

"In Walkerton we learned that the hard way and I had hoped that no one else would ever have to live through that kind of situation. I deeply regret that history seems to have repeated itself."

As was the case with the ecoli tragedy in Walkerton, a public inquiry is needed into the listeria outbreak, said Mayor Bagnato.
"There’s just no excuse for this tragic event that has continued to unfold over the past two weeks. Innocent people have lost their lives due to consuming something as simple as prepared meat. Not unlike those in Walkerton who perished because they drank tap water."

"The outrageous fact is that the same careless mind set existed with government officials in both scenarios. Regulatory cuts that achieve cost savings at the expense of public safety. Now we reflect on those unsuspecting families that have endured senseless loss. They will carry with them the burning question for years to come -- why? "

For more information contact:
Charlie Bagnato
Municipality of Brockton
Phone: 519-881-2223

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