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Agriculture

Third horse dies at Stampede chuckwagon races; driver fined, disqualified

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CALGARY — A chuckwagon driver has been barred indefinitely from competing at the Calgary Stampede after a collision caused a horse’s death.

“We live and work as a family committed to the well-being of our beloved animals and this type of incident impacts us deeply to the core,” Stampede CEO Warren Connell said Friday.

The Stampede said driver Chad Harden impeded fellow driver Danny Ringuette’s chuckwagon and caused a third rig driven by Evan Salmond to collide with the track’s inner rail, resulting in severe injuries to a horse that led to its death.

The crash happened Thursday evening in the seventh heat of the Rangeland Derby. Three other horses on Salmond’s wagon had minor injuries.

An independent chuckwagon safety commission ruled Harden should be fined $10,000 and disqualified from the remainder of this year’s racing, which means he will not be invited to compete in future events.

“We don’t think that Chad deliberately meant to do this,” said Mike Whittle, chairman of the safety commission. “We have determined that there was driver error involved in his decision making.”

After viewing video and interviewing judges and the drivers directly involved, the commission informed Harden of its decision late Thursday.

“He provided us his thoughts,” Whittle said. “I won’t go into those thoughts, but I will say that we did inform Chad after our meeting and he is processing what we have told him.”

Whittle said he’s not aware of anything like this happening before.

He said Harden could technically ask to be reinstated as early as September, but there is no guarantee he would be allowed to compete again. Whittle said the decision is up to the Stampede, but the commission would be able to give input.

The Stampede has a zero tolerance policy for preventable accidents and injuries.

“The Stampede takes this very seriously. This is about our brand, this is about our commitment to the safety of our performers, both animals and people,” said Connell.

The horse death was the third during this year’s Stampede.

On Wednesday, a horse was euthanized after it broke a leg during a race, while another animal collapsed and died Monday due to what the Stampede called a medical condition.

Camille Labchuk, executive director of the animal welfare legal advocacy group Animal Justice, wants law enforcement to crack down on Stampede rodeo and chuckwagon events.

She said the large number of horses on the track, combined with the speed at which they’re running, make crashes inevitable.

“It’s illegal under Alberta’s provincial animal welfare laws to cause distress to animals and rodeo events aren’t exempt from these laws,” she said.

Labchuk said she takes no solace in the Stampede punishing Harden.

“I don’t think it’s particularly important whether somebody follows to the letter their internal rules, when we know that everyone participating in this event can foresee that those horses are going to die.”

The Calgary and Vancouver humane societies have also been critical of chuckwagon races.

“I think it’s fair to say that while we have a difference in fundamental values, we do agree on something,” said Stampede spokeswoman Kristina Barnes.

“We don’t ever want to see an animal injured when it heads out onto our chuckwagon track and I’m sure they would agree on that point.”

Lauren Krugel , The Canadian Press

Agriculture

CannTrust files response to Health Canada, names special committee members

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TORONTO — The fate of CannTrust Holdings Inc. is in Health Canada’s hands after the cannabis company formally responded to the regulator’s finding that it was growing pot illegally at its Ontario greenhouse.

The licensed producer said Monday it officially submitted its response to Health Canada and it awaits the regulator’s response, while an investigation into what transpired by CannTrust’s special committee is “ongoing.”

The federal regulator said it received CannTrust’s response late on July 17 and reviewed it on July 18 and “will thoroughly review the information submitted and will take it into account in its decision making process.”

“Health Canada will not hesitate to take additional action if it feels warranted to protect public health and safety,” said spokesman Andre Gagnon in an emailed statement.

CannTrust’s stock has fallen more than 40 per cent since early July, when it disclosed Health Canada’s findings that the company had grown cannabis in several rooms at its Pelham, Ont. facility. The company said the unlicensed pot growing in question took place between October 2018 and March 2019, before the licences were issued for these five rooms in April 2019.

The regulator has put on hold 5,200 kilograms of CannTrust’s inventory, including some samples that are undergoing testing, and the licensed producer voluntarily put on hold 7,500 kilograms of products linked to the unlicensed rooms.

As well, Health Canada has said that the company provided “false and misleading information” to its inspectors. Former CannTrust employee Nick Lalonde has said he was asked to put up fake walls and obscure unlicensed plants in photos that were submitted to federal regulators.

Health Canada said there are a number of enforcement tools it can use under the Cannabis Act, which include the suspension or cancellation of a federal licence or the issuance of administrative monetary penalties up to $1 million.

However, some CannTrust product that originated from the unlicensed rooms had been sold, including to various government retailers in Canada and to its Danish joint venture partner Stenocare, which has quarantined and blocked from sale five batches of product until regulators complete their probe.

And on July 11, CannTrust put a voluntary hold on all sale and shipments of its cannabis products as a precaution as the investigation continues.

As well, cultivation, sales and exporting of cannabis unless authorized under the Act are criminal activities, the penalties for which range from fines to imprisonment for up to 14 years in prison.

These provisions under Division 1 of the Cannabis Act “are primarily intended to address situations where possession, production, distribution, sale, and import/export of cannabis takes place outside the legal system (for example by unlicensed individuals or organizations),” said Health Canada spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau in an emailed statement.

It is unclear whether this would apply in the case of CannTrust.

Health Canada said it is law enforcement that has the authority to take action against illegal cannabis activity and “against those who operate outside of the legal framework,” Jarbeau added.

Matt Maurer, a cannabis lawyer with Torkin Manes, said lawmakers’ intention when drafting those provisions of the Cannabis Act was to target illicit market sales and players.

However, if CannTrust or any other company is doing something that is not in accordance with their licence, it may fit the definition, he said.

“In this case, if what turns out to be true is that there were grow rooms that were not licensed then … on a real technical definition, that would be illicit cannabis,” he said.  

That being said, whether heavier penalties would be levied will likely depend on the severity of the infraction, Maurer said.

Jumping ahead and growing in rooms before a licence is received is “pretty low on the scale,” he said.  

“Was it that they just got a head start, or was there a lot more to it?” Maurer said.

CannTrust on Monday offered more details on its previously-announced special committee that is investigating what happened, including naming U.S. sports executive Robert Marcovitch as its chairman.

Other members of the special committee are board directors Shawna Page, Mark Dawber, and John Kaden.

It added that the committee’s mandate also includes making “recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding any actions to be taken by CannTrust as a result of the investigation, and to assess any impact on the Company’s bio assets, inventory, sales and revenue.”

The special committee “takes these issues very seriously” and it is committed to working with Health Canada to bring CannTrust into compliance, said Marcovitch.

“Although we want to move as quickly as possible, we are mindful of the critical need to be thorough,” said Marcovitch, a board director and former chief executive of K2 Sports.

“We are determined to identify the root causes for all non-compliance issues, to take appropriate actions to address and remediate any issues with the Company’s compliance culture and to restore trust in the Company.”

On Monday, CannTrust shares closed at $3.56 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, down roughly two per cent from Friday’s close of $3.62 and down sharply from $6.46 on July 5, prior to CannTrust’s disclosure.

 

Companies in this story: (TSX: TRST)

Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press


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Ag News

The Sound of Genetic Engineering

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What does music have to do with Genetic Engineering? Dr. Dennis Gonsalves helps explain why framing the human side of Genetically Modified food is so important, and how music can help accomplish that.

This video was produced independently by Know Ideas Media

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july, 2019

wed24julAll Daysat27Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede(All Day) MST

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