The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Enforcement Act - Bill C-27 was introduced into Parliament on November 26, 2004. The bill went from being considered “mere housekeeping”, when it was introduced in November 2004, to “too hot to handle” a year later. The bill was expected to go to debate at Second Reading in Parliament during the 2005 fall sitting, but it did not make it to the floor of the House before the government fell in a non-confidence vote on November 28. This was the second time a bill to enhance the CFIA’s powers died on the order paper. Bill C-80, the Canada Food Safety and Inspection Act, was abandoned in 1999 after strong opposition by Canadian citizens.
During the spring of 2005 Bill C-27 was studied by the House Standing Committee on Agriculture. The Committee recommended extensive amendments, but none addressed the CFIA’s dual and conflicting mandate, which was BFF’s central concern. The bill still provided the legal framework for adopting so-called “smart regulation” for food and agriculture, which would aligntie Canada’s regulatory system withto that of the United StatesUSA.
Bill C-27 proposed to:
Consolidate and concentrate the CFIA’s power.
Authorize the CFIA to re-write Canada’s food and agriculture regulations.
Affect the regulations under the Meat Inspection, Fish Inspection, Health of Animals, Feeds, Seeds, Crop Protection, Fertilizer, Customs, Canadian Agricultural Products, Consumer Packaging and Labelling, Competition, Monetary Penalties, and CFIA Acts.
Facilitate the privatization of the food and agriculture regulatory system.
Let the CFIA make agreements with foreign governments and corporations to collect any information for the investigation or enforcement of any law.
Make it even harder for the family farm and the small food processor to survive because of the CFIA’s track record of regulating in the interests of export, trade and promotion of the corporate agri-food sector.
The CFIA is the agency in charge of preventing BSE in Canadian cattle, somethingwhich it failed to do in spite of clear warnings and knowledge of other countries’ experience. The cost? Thousands of family farm livelihoods, billions of dollars, and Canada’s international reputation.
The CFIA is the agency that bungled the 2004 Avian Flu crisis in BC, resulting in the unnecessarily killing of millions of healthy birds including exotic, rare, and irreplaceable genetic stock.
According to the Auditor General the CFIA is one of the most secretive government agencies in the government of Canada. All of Iits surveillance and inspection work is hidden from the Canadian public view. YetDespite this Bill C-27 would have given the CFIA the authority to disclose, share, and make available ANY information to foreign governments!
The CFIA has a conflicting dual mandate 1. It regulates and promotes agriculture and the food sector. In the risk-benefit balancing act, the CFIA leans towards favours its agri-business “clients” who reap the trade and revenue benefits while ordinary citizens — consumers and farmers — must bear the resulting health, economic, and environmental risks.
Bill C-27 would have given the CFIA even more power
The previous government claimed that Bill C-27 was step two in a three-step process to modernize Canada's agriculture and food regulations to conform with the so-called Smart Regulation policy. We argued that Bill C-27 would have given the CFIA carte blanche to create regulations that would lock us into step with the US regulatory system and cripple our ability to protect Canada’s food system and diversify our trading relationships.
The government claimed that Bill C-27 would protect Canada from bio-terrorism by increasing surveillance. Bill C-27 would have let allowed the CFIA to compromise our civil liberties by giving foreign governments and corporations the ability to collect and share any information for the purpose of investigating and enforcing any law.
1The mandate of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as outlined in its Corporate Business Plan, is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of federal inspection and related services for food and animal and plant health. The objectives of the Agency are to contribute to a safe food supply and accurate product information; to contribute to the continuing health of animals and plants; and to facilitate trade in food, animals, plants and related products.