I’m a pretty big fan of decent (i.e. well documented and researched) investigative journalism, and for that reason I’ve been a long time fan of CTV W5.

Tonight, I happened to tune in by chance, and the episode is about car & truck dealerships in Calgary with shady and deceptive advertising practices.

So, first up, Woodridge Ford, which in their newsprint advertisement mentions 420 Ford F-150 trucks in stock (!?) as low as $399 a month. So off they go with hidden cameras… of course, the F-150 pickup shown in the ad can’t be found, but a similar model is found (after a while) in the showroom… but to keep that $399… one has to make an annual ‘contribution’ of $2250 (over 3 years!) to maintain that $399 rate … if not, up it goes to $587 a month! Obviously, given a fail notice by the APA with scathing commentary by George Iny.

Then, T&T Honda…

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I just watched a truly disheartening and frightening CTV W-Five episode covering a subject that is often not discussed – far less so by the Federal ministers on Parliament Hill just blocks from one of the worst drug, prostitution and homelessness problems anywhere in the nation. None of them, including Public Security Minister Stockwell Day, accepted to meet with CTV W-5 saying they were “too busy”…

They hounded the Premier of Ontario, but he also brushed off a reporter and hustled into a building…

Personally, I am not surprised by this report. I’ve been to Ottawa many times over the last 20-25 years; my ex-wife and much of her family were from there, as was my late stepfather.

In January 2008 I began a series of about a ½ dozen business trips, one every month or so, to the National Capital Region and usually stayed in hotels in the Downtown, or Byward Market area. The Byward Market is a charming 3-4 square block neighbourhood which, by day is a nice selection of multicultural restaurants and farmer market type stands. It’s next to one of the largest shopping centre’s in the Ottawa metropolitan area; the Rideau Centre Shopping Centre.

Now being a Montrealer, I like to explore a city’s nightlife and evening culture – we have a massive choice of cafés, lounges, showbars and nightclubs in Montreal – around the market.

A few of the times I stayed in hotels (including the Econolodge and Marriott Courtyard Inn) near the Byward Market. Those are both nice hotels; granted the Econo Lodge Downtown at 475 Rideau street is pretty much no-frills motor inn more than hotel with rooms straight onto an inside parking lot that is directly onto Rideau street across from a 7-11 and in the vicinity of churches, residential homes and … well a little pic of the Econolodge :

Econo Lodge Downtown Ottawa at 475 Rideau Street

What struck me most the first time was the number of vagrants, obviously mentally ill homeless people, drug users, congregating around the many missions and shelters in that area. It struck me as so “un-Ottawa like” which has always had a relatively pristine reputation of being a clean, if stoic, family town.

The name of the CTV W-Five episode is Capital Shame and was originally aired this spring I believe… and one revealing quote:

“One of my officers who emailed — I think at 1:54 in the morning,” recalls Police Chief Vernon White. “He said that’s he’s done, he doesn’t know what to do anymore after he drove around for a couple of hours with a prostitute who said she wanted help and he could not get her help and dropped her off at the same corner. I mean, I’ll tell you the frustration in that email — I think is what you hear in our officer’s voices everyday.”

I mentioned nothing to my business colleagues while I was there (doing IT training and coaching sessions)… but by the third trip I jokingly mentioned that I was staying in a neighbourhood that seemed “err” a bit “ghetto ish”…

I got quiet understanding nods of agreement, and people telling me that Ottawa (especially the downtown area near the market) has built up a critical problem.

Taxi drivers, with whom I enjoy exchanging the “real deal” with whenever I travel, confirmed that pretty much every night, 50% or more of people on the streets after 9pm were in some sort of serious trouble (mental, physical health, homeless, male/female prostitutes, drug addicted, or all of the above)….

This is obviously not ALL what Ottawa is about, but it’s more than a tragic reality that literally overruns the area around the Market. I have never seen such a high density of depraved and desperate souls in Montreal in the 32+ years I’ve lived around here.

I think the only Canadian city that may compare is Vancouver in certain spots?

But this is in the capital of our great country – less than 1-2 blocks from the Parliament Buildings?

Pleaselet’s not let Ottawa become Washington, D.C. …

See the entire CTV W-Five episode Capital Shame online (about 20 minutes playing time)

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and of course Malachite Green is a carcinogen. W5 has always been a great news program, and tonight they examine the quantity of food being exported from China… plus they got limited but supervisedvideo footage of Chinese food processing and farming facilities.

I snacked on a can of Tasteful brand of smoked mussels earlier this afternoon. They are made in China, imported by Dollarama, and sold at CAD $1.00 for an 85g tin.

Can’t make my mini-cold any worse… or can it ? :/

OK, it’s on now on W5.. lead story. Liveblogging it:


China has gone from being the number 8 producer of food imported to Canada to number 2 – right behind the US….

Video shows a fish / shrimp farming operation where the fish farmer (on a plywood “raft”) throws food to his fish just a few dozen meters where someone else is spreading pesticides on a field…

Bill Chu got incredibly sick after eating mixed frozen seafood that he cooked…. 10 minutes after, his head became bloated and had to go to ER.

He has been lobbying Ottawa to take action – Malachite Green is a food processing additive that is a carcinogen apparently, and is used to treat fish and seafood in China…. but not allowed in Canada.

They interviewed a rep (missed her name) from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency … and she said that they now test a sample of EVERY shipment coming in (since 2005) for Malachite Green.

A year and a half later … W5 did it themselves for a Dacefish picked up in Toronto… at the T&T Supermarket…

Leucomalachite Green showed up in that fish…… and according to the CFIA it should not have made it in.

Now Bob Kingston of the union representing CFIA food inspectors (and a former food inspector himself) says that they’re understaffed… well of course. He says they are being reactive in terms of food inspection – someone has to get sick before they react.

Now about Veggie Booty a snack by Robert’s American Gourmet.. infected with a rare strain of salmonella… a family bought it for their family.. they always bought organic…. but their daughter ate it – had a fever of 105F for several days and then passing blood! 60 other people got sick from here. It said product of New York….

The loophole ? Product of Canada vs. Made in Canada. For example… apple juice with ingredients from else.. import it and bring it here and add water… voila. Apple Juice product of Canada.

CTV W5 staffer posed as a consumer, phoning major cereal manufacturers asking if their cereals had ingredients from China .. over the phone – the answer? They don’t know. “It’s not information they track”

The exception was Kellogs who sent a full list of ingredients and their sources…

Jamieson Vitamins – largest makers of vitamins in Canada… went to China to monitor… and they visited China and said the manufacturing facilities in China did not look fit for any sort of human consumption type products – food…. pills, etc. So now they (Jamieson) sticks to large multinational companies in China – and tests regularly everything they bring in.

Now the irony is that my plan for dinner tonight is …. shrimp and scallops – but they’re from Thailand! with basmati….

Health Canada has launched www.healthycanadians.gc.ca with information about food and consumer / child product recalls – it was launched October 24th.

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