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2008 Election Wrap-up

Message from the President

Dear Members:

The federal election is finally over. It’s time now for us to roll up our sleeves, take a determined, patient breath and get down to working unambiguously with Mr. Harper’s Conservative Minority Government.

During the election campaign, we spent a great deal of time and effort making the country aware of some of the issues that affect the public service: privatization, contracting out, deregulation and food safety. We were heard!.

Substantial challenges lie ahead. But, the fragmented political landscape gives us the advantage of being able to rally support from different corners of the political boxing ring. We garnered commitments from some candidates during the campaign, and we are going to count on these allies in the coming months.

The very first thing we need to do is to convince the Prime Minister and his government to stop muzzling and intimidating professionals and scientists working for the Government of Canada. As was clearly evident in the results of the Nanos polls , Canadians depend on a professional public service they can trust to protect their health and safety. This is not a responsibility our members take lightly. Their employer, the Government of Canada, is duty-bound to provide the tools and resources needed to perform their jobs and to fulfill their obligations to the Canadian population.

On the issue of collective bargaining, we are going to continue applying pressure at several levels to ensure negotiations come to fruition. It is inexcusable and unacceptable that talks have been stuck in limbo for months, and that more than 42,000 of our members still have no collective agreement. The Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) ruled in our favour in our bad faith bargaining complaint against the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It is a victory that should help us convince the Prime Minister to provide a clear, precise mandate to his bargaining teams to ensure that agreements can be reached in a professional and business-like fashion.

I wish to thank each and every one of you who worked with us in our campaign. It is because of your efforts and collaboration that we were able to make our concerns known in the public arena. We need you to keep our cause moving forward.

Michèle Demers

Decision 2008: The Institute’s Plan of Action for the Federal Election

The Action Plan

PIPSC has never before engaged in so many proactive election initiatives. Our target has been the timely and relevant issue of food safety. Our work has included:

  • development of an Election web page and notices to members and other interested parties about our plan
  • developed and posted questions for members to ask at town hall meetings
  • participated in the launch of the PSAC’s web site
  • emailed a letter to all candidates seeking pledges to improve food safety. 53 MPs have taken the pledge: 21 Green Party, 28 NDP, 2 BLOC and 2 Liberal
  • conducted a poll with Nanos on food safety and a press conference to release results
  • created an ad campaign highlighting the importance of food safety measures given the outbreak of listeriosis.

See the PIPSC Election Campaign Web page for all these products and initiatives.

The Food Safety Pledge for MPs

  • Hire 1,000 additional inspectors and veterinarians so that the food industry can be adequately supervised.
  • Place an immediate moratorium on industry self-policing policies.
  • Remove obstacles preventing CFIA inspectors and vets from taking immediate action.
  • Restore the system of public audit reports which were cancelled under pressure from the meat industry.

Party Platforms

Political Party New Announcements on Policy on Food Safety
Conservative No new announcements. (Proceed with investigation of recent listeriosis outbreak and continue their Food Safety Action Plan to invest $160 million dollars over the next four years after recent cuts of $250 million.)
Liberal Invest an additional $50 million in food safety net.
Recruit 100 more inspectors for both home grown and imported foods and ensure inspectors have access to the best technology.
NDP Increase the number of inspectors at CFIA.
Improve the system of warning families of food safety problems.
Require labelling of genetically engineered foods and farmed fish.
Require full accuracy and accountability for labels stating “Made in Canada”
Bloc No announcement.
Green No announcement.


The Nanos Poll Results

The Institute commissioned poll concludes that more than 80% of Canadians want to see cuts to food safety reversed and 56% want to see more resources invested. 71% support a more hands-on role for government in policing food safety. Also, two-thirds of Canadians trust food inspectors the most to ensure that the food consumed by Canadians is safe as opposed to 21% of food company employees and 5% of grocery store employees.

The Ad Campaign

The Institute created a newspaper ad which was published in the Ottawa Citizen and La Presse and in 25 swing ridings. “The bell has tolled 19 times. When will we sound the alarm?” Sadly, one more casualty increased the death toll from 19 to 20, since the ad was first prepared.

Yes, we can make a difference with a concerted effort. Thank you to all our members who participated.

Press Conference - Survey says: Canadians call on federal government to reverse course on failed approach to food safety

At a press conference on September 29, 2008, President Michèle Demers released the results of a survey conducted by Nanos Research, commissioned by the Institute, on Canadians' views on current government policy on food safety. According to the survey, an overwhelming majority of Canadians are opposed to the Conservative government’s plans to cut key food safety programs and to expand industry self-policing.

At the press conference with President Demers were: (left to right) Chris Roberts, Research Officer; Anu Bose, of the consumer advocacy organization Option consommateurs; and Mike McBane of the Canadian Health Coalition.

September 29, 2008

Elections '08