CGC Short A Commissioner – for Sep. 23, 2010

Ever dreamed of becoming a Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) commissioner?

The salary ranges from $135,300 to $159,200. And there’s an opening, although the deadline to apply was July 5.

Cam Dahl’s three-year term as a CGC commissioner ended Aug. 15 and he decided not to seek a renewal.

“It was a very difficult decision,” Dahl said in an interview in July. “The commission is an interesting place to be.

“But from a career perspective I think this is the right choice.

Dahl said he is now working with Res/Op Technologies, a Winnipeg company that specializes in turning waste into energy without creating pollution.

Having a good understanding of Canadian agriculture is a prerequisite to becoming a grain commissioner, said Dahl who worked on Parliament Hill before being appointed to the CGC in August of 2007, after stints with Agricore United, the Grain Growers of Canada, Car Allocation Policy Group and Grain Transportation Agency.

“You need to understand that the industry is a value chain,” he said. “You can’t make one sector better off by making another worse off. I think that perspective is quite important.”

When asked what impressed him the most about the CGC, Dahl said the Grain Research laboratory (GRL).

“I’m not sure the work done by the Grain Research Lab is well understood and how that is contributing to grain quality and safety,” he said. “I know from my perspective I’ve learned a lot about what the GRL does, which is probably an indication that’s not well understood in the industry.”

A full description of the job requirements is listed on the federal government’s website. However, in a departure from tradition, there is no indication that the appointment will be regionally based.

Traditionally there’s been one commissioner from each of the Prairie provinces. Dahl is from Manitoba, while the current chief commissioner, Elwin Hermanson and commissioner Jim Smolick are from Saskatchewan and British Columbia (Peace River area), respectively.

The commissioner position was advertised in newspapers, including theManitoba Co-operator,as well as the Canada Gazette and on the federal government’s Governor in Council website.

Commissioners are appointed by the Governor in Council, which is the federal cabinet, including the agriculture minister, to whom the CGC reports. Sometimes referred to as ‘patronage appointments’ traditionally those with ‘political’ connections are awarded positions by the party in power. For example, the CGC’s current chief commissioner, Elwin Hermanson, while an MP employed Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz as his constituency coordinator.

However, competence is a requirement, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“It is essential for appointees to be well-qualified, and that senior government appointees be chosen through a process that ensures broad and open consideration of proposed candidate,” Harper states in the Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State.

Order in Council appointees serve based on either good behaviour or at the pleasure of the government. CGC commissioners serve based on good beahviour. That means they can only be fired for just cause. Those that serve “at pleasure” can be sacked without cause. [email protected]

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“You need to understand that the industry is a value chain.”

– CAM DAHL

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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