News & Views

Trouble is brewing as farmers who had tomato contracts with Thomas Canning (Maidstone) Ltd. were left with no delivery dates from the processor so ended up watching millions of dollars just rot away in their fields.

The kicker for some was the news that Thomas Canning was also the beneficiary of a $3,000,000 taxpayer handout announced back in February 2014 and want to know if the money was used as intended. The original Ontario Government news release stated, "The province is providing $3 million for the construction of the new facility, which will process a significant amount of locally grown tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables." The farmers are scratching their heads and looking for answers.

When contacted by media, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs says, "the money was used as intended for equipment, marketing, consulting and professional services under a conditional grant agreement that expires Dec. 31." Despite repeated requests for more information from the Star last week, the ministry only confirmed late Friday that the full $3 million had been granted, but did not say how much money went to each area.

More information and background can be seen here in an article from the National Post.

As it turns out Wynne was also the Minister of Agriculture at the time of the handout.

Now this can be easily chalked up to business as usual from the folks who love to giveaway other people's money but then I stumbled on to this little gem. Just a few days following this generous gift to Thomas Canning wouldn't you know it ketchup maker H.J. Heinz (who was closing a nearby plant) was holding a press conference and media speculation suggested that a group of investors, possibly including managers at the plant, has struck a deal with Heinz to continue to produce tomato juice at the giant plant, saving about 40 per cent of the jobs.

What I found most interesting was that Sandra Pupatello, CEO of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation (and previously failed candidate for the Liberal leadership) noted in this article from The Star, that Thomas Canning just announced expansion plans to process tomatoes from Leamington.

Ya, so what? or was the cash given to Thomas Canning supposed to help move some other deal forward. I have no reason to think such a thing but I have to say I find it an interesting coincidence.

What do you think ... is my hat on too tight?

- Scott

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