New Grain Commission chief tells Parliament where to go

    OTTAWA, Feb. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Former Reform MP Elwin Hermanson who was
appointed chief commissioner of the Canadian Grain Commission only weeks ago
is advocating in favour of a controversial bill that has never been endorsed
by Parliament.
    Hermanson authored a strongly worded opinion article in favour of
amendments to the Canada Grain Act in Bill C-39 which was published in the
February 7th edition of The Western Producer. Mr. Hermanson declares in his
opinion article: "As chief commissioner of the CGC, I strongly support this
legislation... ."
    The bill would gut or kill several services and regulatory oversight
activities of the Canadian Grain Commission, leaving producers newly
disadvantaged in their dealings with grain companies and undermining the
quality and food safety assurance programs Canada's international reputation
for excellence are built upon.
    C-39 has not cleared second reading debate in the Commons and many MPs
report having serious reservations about it.
    "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.
    Kingston added: "Mr. Hermanson has set a new low for double standards
given that the Commission recently threatened employees with disciplinary
action if they criticize the government over the bill he is promoting."
    On December 21st, the Canadian Grain Commission issued a memo to
employees forbidding them to publicly criticize Bill C-39, the government's
proposal to cripple the Commission. The memo from Diane Shapiro, Director of
Human Resources threatens Canadian Grain Commission employees with possible
disciplinary action if they criticize the government.
    Mr. Hermanson's 5 year patronage appointment to head the Canadian Grain
Commission is effective January 21st. Hermanson was a Reform Party MP from
1993 to 1997 and leader of the conservative Saskatchewan Party from 1998 to
2004. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has close political ties to
Mr. Hermanson, serving as his campaign manager during the 1993 election and
constituency assistant thereafter.
    "It seems clear Mr. Hermanson has his own agenda and it may well be
different than Parliament's," Kingston said.

    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; Bob Kingston,
Executive VP, Agriculture Union, (613) 882-2607; Patty Ducharme, National
Executive VP PSAC, (613) 560-4310

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