News

Activist to premier: Come eat at illegal burger shack

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

An illegal burger stand south of Hamilton is refusing to shut down and will not allow health inspectors back on the site. (MONTE SONNENBERG/QMI Agency)

An illegal burger stand south of Hamilton is refusing to shut down and will not allow health inspectors back on the site. (MONTE SONNENBERG/QMI Agency)

TORONTO - 

A Caledonia activist has offered to buy Premier Kathleen Wynne a meal from a Native burger shack ordered closed by local public health authorities.

Christine McHale, wife of well-known activist Gary McHale, of Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality (CanACE), said Monday that the provincial government is not taking action against a small restaurant that has set up shop on its land and continues to operate despite the close order.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit issued a statement earlier this month to inform the public that the small stand has spotty electricity, no potable water and no staff hand-washing station.

“Perhaps Premier Wynne or (Transportation and Infrastructure) Minister Glen Murray don’t really think there is a food safety issue,” McHale said. “If that’s the case, then I am inviting them to Caledonia to come and get a burger and some fries at this place where health codes are violated, orders to close are ignored ... I will even treat them.”

Unsuspecting people are buying food, unaware that a public health close order is in place, McHale said.

McHale and her husband are among a group of activists who say that the unresolved Six Nations land claim in the community has led to uneven enforcement of laws.

Public health officials acted swiftly to shut down suspect food outlets at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), McHale said.

Wynne said she couldn’t speak to the specific case of the burger shack but believes it is part of a bigger discussion over the tobacco trade on the Six Nations reserve.

“The rules around tobacco and First Nations’ relationship to tobacco are complicated,” she said. “They bring in the federal excise rules as well as provincial regulations ... I think that is the issue that needs to be solved. This other contentious piece (of the burger shack) is a part of that.”

The local public health unit is advising the public to eat elsewhere until the food safety issues are resolved.

A spokesman for the burger shack could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.



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