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Government food scientists call for Ritz resignation and Harper apology


September 19, 2008
By Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

OTTAWA, Ont., Sept. 19 — The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada today joined the call for the resignation of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "Minister Ritz has repeatedly disappointed the professional scientists and inspectors who work for him during the listeria crisis," said Michele Demers, President of the Institute. "The comments he apologized for yesterday are the last straw. Crisis requires real leadership and Mr. Ritz is clearly not fit to lead."

The Professional Institute represents 1,800 professionals who work in food inspection and health protection. As professionals in these fields, Institute members are also shocked at Prime Minister Harper's dismissive response to the considered opinion on the roots of listeriosis crisis put forward by the editorial board of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Canada's foremost medical journal blamed government policy on food safety for contributing to the listeria crisis and called for "a full-scale public inquiry in to the major failings of Canada's food inspection system".
"Prime Minister Harper should immediately fire Minister Ritz and apologize to all Canadians for his trivializing response to informed critics of his government's policies on food safety," said Demers. "Only a full-fledged independent and transparent inquiry can re-establish Canadian's trust in the safety of their food". Demers added that the Harper government's plans for further cuts to food inspection and regulation must be stopped.
The Professional Institute is a co-sponsor of the Food Safety First campaign which is urging federal candidates to endorse a four-point commitment to food safety. Go to Foodsafetyfirst.ca
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada is a national union representing 55,000 professionals and scientists of whom 1,800 work at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.