Exchanges between W5 and CFIA media relations
September 3, 2014 – W5 e-mails CFIA providing a synopsis of the video, our initial questions, and seeking an interview with CFIA President Bruce Archibald
W5 is producing a story about the transportation of and handling of pigs in Canada. As part of this investigation, W5 has been provided with hidden camera video inside the Red Deer location of the Western Hog Exchange. The video appears to show instances of pigs being transported in extreme heat; pigs dead on arrival; pigs coming off trucks that are too injured to stand or move on their own being forced to move with bats, feet, prodded with electric prods, or pushed with heavy gates; boars de-tusked to the gum level, questionable euthanasia practices; and overcrowding. In some instances, CFIA inspectors appear to be present, which raises questions about CFIA oversight and investigation and enforcement.
September 11, 2014 – CFIA responds to W5’s request for an interview and responds to some of W5’s written questions
I am responding to your recent requests for an interview with Dr. Bruce Archibald. Dr. Archibald is unavailable for an interview however the information you requested is below. Please contact me if you have further questions.
CFIA Media Relations
Question 1: What are Canada's animal transport and welfare regulations?
Answer: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does not condone or tolerate any abusive behaviour towards animals and investigates all allegations of animal mistreatment.
The CFIA enforces the humane treatment of animals in accordance with the Health of Animals Regulations and the Meat Inspection Regulations. Broadly speaking, these regulations aim to prevent the undue suffering of animals during transport and during slaughter at federally registered facilities. These regulations are enforced through inspections at various locations such as border entry points, livestock auction markets and slaughter plants.
Most Canadian producers, transporters and processors are strongly committed to treating animals humanely. In the cases of non-compliance, the Agency works closely with the provinces, territories and all stakeholders in the animal care community to encourage immediate reporting of any animal welfare concerns to the appropriate regulatory authority. Rapid, detailed reporting places us in the best possible position to take appropriate enforcement actions.
Question 2:What are the current regulations on transport times, limits for feed, water and rest, andtruck conditions on animal welfare, and animal handling during the transportation process?
Answer: Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations defines the conditions for humanely transporting all animals in Canada by all modes of transport. The Health of Animals Regulations require that animals be in good physical condition to travel and that the trip be made under suitable conditions (ventilation, duration, loading density, and proper construction of trailers and conveyances
Question 3:Can the CFIA provide their records of inspection at Western Hog Exchange from May 1,2014 to August 31, 2014?
Answer: There have been no issues of non-compliance identified by the CFIA against the Western Hog Exchange in the past year and, therefore, no enforcement actions taken by the CFIA.
September 12, 2014 - W5 again requests an interview
If Dr. Archibald is unavailable, we request an on-camera interview with the person who oversees CFIA inspectors or someone else from the CFIA who can speak to these issues.
September 12, 2014 – CFIA responds and requests a copy of the hidden camera footage, while not agreeing to any interview
The CFIA takes any allegations of animal mistreatment seriously. In order for us to conduct an appropriate investigation, we request that you forward us the video footage.
September 12, 2014 - W5 responds offering to bring the video to the CFIA office and screen it for them prior to any on-camera interview
We propose the following: our reporter, Victor Malarek, will bring a copy of the video to your offices and show it to the person designated to be interviewed (off-camera). Immediately after he or she has viewed the video, we would expect an on-camera interview.
We have previously enumerated the instances contained in the video in advance of its showing to provide an idea of what the interviewee will see:
a) Pigs being transported in extreme heat;
b) Pigs dead on arrival;
c) Pigs coming off trucks that are too injured to stand or move on their own being
forced to move with bats, feet, prodded with electric prods, or pushed with heavy gates;
d) Boars de-tusked to the gum level,
e) Questionable euthanasia practices;
In some instances, CFIA inspectors appear to be present.
September 17, 2014 – CFIA responds saying an interview is not feasible and responds more of W5’s initial questions
In order for us to initiate a proper and detailed investigation, it is essential that several CFIA animal welfare experts thoroughly view the footage. Typically, this process requires multiple viewings and consultation with other officials in the CFIA. Therefore, it would not be feasible to conduct an interview under the scenario you have proposed.
The CFIA takes allegations of animal mistreatment during transport or slaughter seriously and investigates reports of mistreatment. It is important to re-emphasize that we cannot proceed with a full investigation of this situation until we are provided and can appropriately examine the video footage.
Question 1: Can you provide information on the CFIA records of inspection at Western Hog Exchange (WHE) from May 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014 including inspector compliance verification records and non-compliance reports?
Answer: At this facility, WHE employees identify and exclude from slaughter suspect or unsatisfactory animals. CFIA inspectors then verify that the remaining animals are suitable for slaughter and that proper procedures are followed to produce safe meat. There were379,769 animals presented for CFIA inspection during this period. No animals were condemned based on these inspections.
CFIA inspectors also verify that animals arriving at this facility have been transported in a humane manner. It is important to note that CFIA inspectors are not on site for all arrivals; however, the CFIA did conduct 84 humane transport verifications during this period. No non-compliance reports were issued.
Question 2: Were there any “letters of warning” written to the Western Hog Exchange by the CFIA from May 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014? If so, how many? Can we get copies?
Answer: No letters of warning were issued during this period.
September 17, 2014 - W5 again requests an interview
As we continue our reporting, today we interviewed a representative of Western Hog Exchange who agreed to be interviewed immediately after screening the video with his colleagues. We are prepared to do the same for CFIA.
i.e. to screen the video to as many people as you like, and the opportunity to screen the footage multiple times, in order to allow you to thoroughly view and examine the footage, provided that an interview is granted immediately afterward.
October 1, 2014 – W5’s Senior Reporter Victor Malarek approaches CFIA president Bruce Archibald directly to seek answers and to request an interview. (The exchange is recorded by W5’s cameras and can be seen in our report.)
October 2, 2014 – Following the approach to Archibald, CFIA’s Executive Director of Strategic Communications, James Stott, calls W5:
We are prepared to offer an interview. Our spokesperson is in Western Canada, we would have him available in Calgary.
There would be a condition to the interview, and that is that the footage that was taken today and yesterday at our headquarters not be used. … We’d like an opportunity to be part of a fair and balanced story and I don’t think that’s possible with that footage being used.
October 2, 2014 – W5 responds, accepting their offer of an interview, but declining the CFIA’s conditions
According to CTV News Policy, we cannot undertake to withhold any video that has already been shot.
We have been asking for an interview for more than 4 weeks. We find it very interesting that you come to us now with an offer, after we approached Dr. Archibald yesterday. That said, in the interests of fairness we remain interested in an on-camera interview.
Victor and our crew are available to tape an on-camera interview with a spokesperson or representative from CFIA in Ottawa tomorrow, Friday, October 3, 2014, until 5 pm Eastern Time.
October 3, 2014 – There is no response from CFIA