BROADCAST DATE : Sep 17, 1985

Product of Canada

From 1985, our investigation into the federal government's rejection and subsequent release of almost one million cans of partly decomposed tuna from the Star-Kist Tuna Canada Ltd. plant in New Brunswick.This public disclosure, reported by former fifth estate host the late Eric Malling, precipitated a political controversy and the resignation of Minister of Fisheries John Fraser. The tuna in question was first rejected as unfit for consumption in standard Fisheries Department inspections. After its unsuccessful appeal, Star-Kist threatened a plant closure and massive layoff if the tuna was not released. N.B. Premier Richard Hatfield had it re- tested at the Research and Productivity Council (RPC) in Fredericton, which was paid $35,000 by the N.B. Job Protection Branch to conduct the tests. Not surprisingly, the RPC found the tuna acceptable. A third assessment, by Fraser's own inspection team, recommended that the tuna only be sold outside of Canada, and only with a cautionary label. In an interview, Fraser defends the release of the tuna in Canada, pointing to the public's right to a fair hearing in the face of possibly unfair government actions, and to the legitimate right of a provincial government to become involved in such a case.