|Deep Integration via back door of Agriculture
through bill C-27
Subject: Beyond Factory Farming Coalition's
Brief respecting Bill C-27, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency
March 24, 2005
On behalf of Beyond Factory Farming Coalition/Coalition au-dela de
#501 – 230 22nd Street East
I am presenting on behalf of the Beyond Factory
Farming Coalition, a national organization established in 2002
representing hundreds of thousands of Canadians. It is made up of
local, provincial and national organizations, which are organized to
deal with farm, labour, health, environmental, animal welfare,
rural, urban and economic issues pertaining to livestock production.
Our vision is “Livestock Production for Health and Social
Justice” We have serious concerns about Bill C-27 and I am pleased
to be able to present them to you here today.
Bill C-27 is Step 2 of a 3-step plan to
restructure Canada’s food and agriculture regulations. Step 1 was
the creation of the CFIA. Step 2 consolidates the CFIA’s
regulatory power under one Act. Step 3 will not come before
Parliament, as it will be the establishment of new regulations,
which are passed by Order in Council without public debate.
Bill C-27 makes the CFIA into a more powerful
agency, but does not balance the increased power with increased
transparency requirements or other checks and balances.
Because Bill C-27 will replace the enforcement
portions of the Agri-food Acts, it will require the CFIA to develop
a new set of “one size fits all” enforcement regulations. Any
time there is a major re-writing of regulations, there is the
opportunity to implement significant policy changes via
re-structuring of the rules that govern the area concerned.
We also know that the Prime Minister has stated a
commitment to implement the recommendations of the External Advisory
Committee on Smart Regulations (EACSR) which was submitted in
September 2004, and mentioned in the Throne Speech.
In the context of the EACSR report we know that
Bill C-27 is not just a bit of housekeeping, but the mechanism to
further a specific policy agenda that is being implemented piece by
piece, below the radar of the Canadian public, and perhaps without
full knowledge of some of our elected representatives. I am pleased
that this Committee is taking time to study Bill C-27 closely in
order to better understand its implications.
As I was watching the Brier (curling championship)
finals recently, an analogy came to mind. The 1997 CFIA Act was the
Lead’s innocuous-looking guard rocks, out in front of the rings.
Bill C-27 is the Second’s stones, perhaps in a position to count.
The regulatory re-write will be the Third’s rocks – setting up
for the final play. Unfortunately, it looks like the USDA is the
Skip, and Cargill and Monsanto are the coaches. Once the new
“smart” regulations are in place, the Americans will be calling
Parliament will not have another opportunity to
intervene in the shaping of Canada’s food and agriculture
regulations if Bill C-27 is passed, so it is imperative that you
carefully study this bill, its context, its implications, and the
chain of events it will precipitate.
A big part of the problem with Bill C-27 is that
it does not tell the CFIA which side it is on. The agency has a
contradiction written into its very mission –
“The objectives of the Agency are to
contribute to a safe food supply … and to facilitate trade in
food, animals, plants and related products.”
Canadian Food Inspection Agency Annual Report
Bill C-27 does nothing to deal with the fact that
regulating food and agriculture for health and safety is in conflict
with promoting trade. Regulations by their very nature limit
and control private benefits for the purpose of protecting the
greater public interest.
The EACSR report exacerbates the problem, as its
Vision includes the following statement:
INNOVATION – The regulatory system must
enhance market performance and support innovation,
competitiveness, entrepreneurship and investment in the Canadian
[Smart Regulation: A Regulatory Strategy for
Canada, Report to the Government of Canada, External Advisory
Committee on Smart Regulation, September 2004 http://www.pco-bcp.gc.ca/smartreg-regint/en/08/index.html
There is evidence that the CFIA is inappropriately
influenced by its connection to private industry. For example, the
2000 Auditor General’s report on the CFIA says:
Key advisory mechanisms draw heavily from
industry. Among the members of the Ministerial Advisory Board,
there are eight industry representatives, three academics, and one
consumer representative. The Agency's "Group of Thirty"
key stakeholders includes 30 industry groups, seven academic and
professional groups and one consumer group. - [2000 - Chapter 25 -
Canadian Food Inspection Agency - Food Inspection Programs, Office
of the Auditor General of Canada, page 39.
for external link to pdf file
Furthermore, in a recent presentation to this
Committee, you heard that the Canadian Meat Council’s Director,
Regulatory and Trade, had previously worked for 34 years for
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the CFIA. The Canadian Meat
Council represents the largest meat packing interests in Canada, and
“We have worked closely with the Food
Inspection Agency for many years, … The regulatory or procedure
manual changes all the time, and we're constantly in discussion
about how these things should be applied, how they should change,
how they would work best, right across Canada.” -- [38th
Parliament, 1st Session, Standing Committee on Agriculture and
Agri-Food, Evidence, Thursday, February 17, 2005]
The tail seems to be wagging the watchdog. Bill
C-27 does nothing to remedy this situation. On the contrary, it
fails to provide needed mechanisms for increased transparency,
public participation and public accountability regarding inspection
and enforcement measures.
Therefore, our central concern with Bill C-27 is
that it creates a framework to permit an un-elected bureaucracy, the
CFIA, to re-structure the regulations that govern Canada’s food
and agriculture in a way that will put trade ahead of public safety,
and will put integration with the US regulatory system ahead of
legitimate Canadian democratic control over the rules that govern
the food we eat.
We believe that the CFIA’s dual mandate
compromises it to the extent that it is not possible to accept such
an increase and consolidation of its powers without first addressing
the CFIA’s mandate. A re-vamped CFIA should be solely concerned
with regulation for health, safety and the integrity of Canada’s
A model for a re-vamped CFIA could be The Food
Standards Agency of the United Kingdom (http://www.food.gov.uk/
). It is an independent food safety watchdog set up by an Act of
Parliament in 2000 to protect the public's health and consumer
interests in relation to food. It reports directly to Parliament,
via the Health Ministry.
The role of promoter of Canadian agricultural
exports, trade and commerce could be assigned to some other body,
such as the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Industry
Canada or DFAIT.
Until the CFIA becomes completely focussed on regulation for health,
safety and the integrity of Canada’s agriculture, we believe it
would be a mistake to consolidate and expand the CFIA’s authority
and powers by passing Bill C-27.
Now I would like to turn to some very specific
concerns with Bill C-27.
Section 8 authorizes the CFIA to make arrangements
with foreign governments and “prescribed organizations” (i.e.
private companies) for collection, disclosure and use of information
for the purpose of enforcing or administering any law, or carrying
out an investigation. This power is far too sweeping, and is open to
potential abuse, particularly by foreign governments and
organizations that are not governed by Canada’s Privacy and Access
to Information laws. I have searched, but have not found any
reference to a bilateral agreement on these issues between Canada
and the USA, for example.
Bill C-27 will increase the CFIA’s ability to
collect information about Canadians. But it does not require the
CFIA to become more transparent by providing Canadians with full
disclosure of its inspection results, test results, or rationale for
its decisions. In the latest available CFIA annual report, the
Auditor General’s assessment includes the following:
In my opinion, while several good improvements
have been made this year, overall the information on the
performance of the Agency does not yet adequately meet my
expectations for fair and reliable reporting. -- [Canadian
Food Inspection Agency Annual Report 2002-2003, 5.0 Auditor
General's Assessment of Performance Information http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/ar/ar03/5e.shtml
The Privacy Act says:
“(2) Subject to any other Act of Parliament,
personal information under the control of a government institution
may be disclosed
(b) for any purpose in accordance with any Act of
Parliament or any regulation made thereunder that authorizes its
Thus, it appears that Section 8 of Bill C-27 may
authorize the CFIA to disclose personal information it collects.
Section 9 allows the CFIA to adopt foreign
government’s or organization’s inspection results for products
being imported to Canada. This falls into line with the
EACSR’s recommendation to have a “test it once” system for
agriculture products in North America. This seems to be an
abdication of Canadian responsibility for Canadian health and
Section 23 permits the CFIA to apply to the Courts
for permanent injunctions to stop persons from committing an
offence, whether or not it has undertaken prosecution in respect of
the offence. This goes beyond what is allowed under the CFIA Act.
Why would the CFIA need such authority? And is there danger that
permanent injunctions would be used in an unfair manner? Given that
there are no appeal mechanisms built into Bill C-27, this seems like
an unduly arbitrary power.
Section 56 enumerates the many types of
regulations that may be made under this Act. Section 57 allows
regulations defined by reference material produced by outside
organizations. The devil will be in the details. Again our concern
here is that given the dual mandate of the CFIA and the Throne
Speech endorsement of the EACSR recommendations, Sections 56 and 57
would give the CFIA the green light to implement regulations that:
- would rely on a risk management framework,
instead of on a health and safety protection framework, shifting
the burden of proof from the regulated entity and onto the general
public and shifting liability away from the regulator;
- would rely on un-enforceable
“performance-based approaches”, voluntary measures, and
information strategies instead of enforceable standards and
precise limits (Section via 56(o) and 57 (b)
- would integrate Canada’s agriculture and
food system with the American system for trade reasons, to
the detriment of public health and economic opportunities for
farmers to serve other markets;
- would adopt testing and approval processes
and decisions that are made in Washington instead of in Canada
through consultation with the Canadian public (Section 56 (n));
- would cascade to provincial and local
jurisdictions, creating barriers to appropriate cultural diversity
that reflects local and regional values, in order to increase
inter-provincial trade and commerce.
The dual mandate of the CFIA and its heavy
reliance on large industry stakeholders for input leads to concerns
that under Section 56 the CFIA will create regulatory requirements
that are inappropriate for smaller and medium-sized producers and
processors which function primarily as barriers to markets for these
independent farmers and businesses, and which are not as necessary
health and safety measures (Section 56 (r)).
Large industry stakeholders have an interest in
expanding their own market share. A regulatory system skewed towards
high speed processing, centralization, high technology, expensive
inputs, fees and capital requirements will have a negative impact on
the rural economy by concentrating meat and livestock production
around a few large packing plants. It will also reduce consumer
choice by eliminating the small scale sector that provides regional,
ethnic, and cultural diversity in food production.
The large scale, export-oriented industrial model
favoured by the CFIA’s industry stakeholders also makes Canada
more vulnerable to trade issues such as the continuing BSE border
closure and the hog countervail. The CFIA’s bungling of the Avian
Influenza situation appears to be a result of its focus on
“optics” for trade purposes instead of a fair, reasonable and
science-based response to solving the disease problem.
Summary and Recommendations:
The CFIA’s dual mandate is a fundamental problem
that needs to be fixed.
The EACSR’s recommendations to restructure
Canada’s regulatory system to one based on risk management, vague
and unenforceable measures, integration with the US regulatory
system and the promotion of entrepreneurship and competitiveness
have created a policy environment where re-writing of regulations is
likely to reduce, rather than enhance the health and safety of
Canadians and the integrity of Canadian agriculture.
The CFIA has a poor record on transparency and
public disclosure, which Bill C-27 does not remedy, but rather
provides the CFIA with increased authority to collect, share and use
information, even with foreign governments and private
The CFIA’s close relationship with large
agri-food industry stakeholders jeopardizes the chances that new
enforcement regulations under Bill C-27 will be fair to independent
family farmers and food processors.
Bill C-27 is not simply a house-keeping measure,
but is a mechanism to consolidate and enhance the authority of the
CFIA so as to make structural changes to Canada’s food inspection
and enforcement regime.
Therefore, we recommend that Bill C-27 should not