George Da Pont, a seasoned federal bureaucrat, has been named president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. He replaces Carol Swan who has retired.
Da Pont became executive vice-president of the agency a year ago with the expectation that he would move into the top job eventually.
With CFIA under repeated attack by its main union and the cause of regular complaints from within the food industry for regulatory high handedness, Da Pont has a job that would test most officials.
Swan was a largely invisible CFIA president, leaving it to Brian Evans, Canada’s chief food safety officer, to be the most prominent spokesman.
Da Pont’s previous post was commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, which like CFIA, has employees working across the country in both safety and regulatory functions.
He proved to be a strong public advocate for the coast guard and its role in navigation and marine safety.
A Saskatchewan native, Da Pont has worked with the federal government for several decades. He spent many years in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs but also worked at the Privy Council Office and Fisheries and Oceans.
In September, Agr icul ture Minister Gerry Ritz is expected to release the final progress report on the government’s implementation of 57 recommendations from the Weatherill report on the deadly 2008 listeria outbreak.
There are reports the minister will unveil legislation at that time to overhaul the federal food safety apparatus including CFIA.