Reject Hermanson's appointment to Grain Commission



    OTTAWA, March 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The Commons Agriculture Committee should
reject Elwin Hermanson's appointment as Chief Commissioner of the Canadian
Grain Commission because he is unfit for the job, according to the Agriculture
Union - PSAC. The appointment will be considered by the Standing Committee on
Agriculture and Agri-food this morning.
    Mr. Hermanson has already come out strongly in favour of proposed
legislation - Bill C-39 - that would gut the services and regulatory oversight
activities of the Grain Commission, even before the bill has been debated in
Parliament.
    In an opinion article published February 7th in The Western Producer,
Mr. Harmanson declares: "As chief commissioner of the CGC, I strongly support
this legislation..."
    "Normally, senior public servants implement legislation or policy rather
than telling Parliament what the law should be," said Bob Kingston, Executive
Vice-President of the Agriculture Union - PSAC, which represents most people
who work at the Commission.
    The Agriculture Union has filed a formal complaint calling on the Public
Service Commission to use its authority under the Public Service Employment
Act to sanction Hermanson for inappropriate partisan behaviour, including
recommending his dismissal.
    Mr. Hermanson's opinion article was published weeks after Grain
Commission employees were threatened by their employer with disciplinary
action if they spoke out against Bill C-39.
    On December 21st, the Canadian Grain Commission issued a memo to
employees forbidding them to publicly criticize Bill C-39, which read, in
part:

    
    "For example, if you identify yourself as a CGC employee in a letter to
     the editor that criticizes government policy relating to the CGC, you
     could create a perception that your views of government policy are not
     impartial and that you may not be able to follow or apply government
     policy in an impartial manner...We would like to remind you that
     inappropriate behaviour by employees on web sites, blogs, and public
     fora (newspapers and meetings etc.) could result in administrative
     and/or disciplinary action."
    

    "Mr. Hermanson has set a new low for double standards that clearly shows
he has a personal agenda and that he can't be trusted to follow direction from
Parliament - the body to which the Commission is supposed to report. Members
of the Agriculture Committee should deny their blessing of Mr. Hermanson's
appointment," Kingston said.
    Once an employee of Mr. Hermanson's, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz
appointed the former Reform Party MP as Chief Commissioner effective
January 21, 2008.
    "Appointment to the public service should be made on merit, not political
cronyism," said Patty Ducharme, National Vice-President of the PSAC.

    The Agriculture Union - PSAC represents 9500 people who work at
Agriculture Canada, the Canadian Grain Commission, the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency, and other workplaces.




For further information:

For further information: Jim Thompson, (613) 447-9592; Patty Ducharme,
National Executive, VP, PSAC, (613) 560-4310; Bob Kingston, Executive VP,
Agriculture Union, (613) 882-2607

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