Who's Going to Run the Canadian Grain Commission?

Update, as of Dec. 6: The offices for all three commissioners at the Canadian Grain Commission are empty.

The offices for the top three positions at the Canadian Grain Commission — the government department that regulates the country’s grain industry — will be vacant as of next week.

The chief commissioner’s chair has been empty since Elwin Hermanson’s appointment expired on January 20. Assistant chief commissioner Jim Smolik filled in as the interim chief commissioner, but his term ended on November 24. Commissioner Murdoch MacKay is the last of the trio left on Main St. in Winnipeg, but his appointment will end on Monday (December 5.)

All three were appointed by former Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz under the previous Conservative government.

While the next commissioners will be appointed by Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, the Privy Council Office leads the selection process.

It’s unclear why MacAulay has not yet made the new appointments. The application deadline in summer was pushed back without any explanation at the time. According to a Nov. 30 statement from the PCO, the deadline was extended “to ensure a greater amount of visibility for Canadian farmers and stakeholders following the busy harvest season.”

There are at least seven applicants with farm organization or grain industry experience, according to anonymous sources in contact with Real Ag. Incumbents Smolik and MacKay are among them.

The successful candidate for chief commissioner will earn between $230,800 to $271,500 per year, while the commissioner and assistant chief commissioner annual salaries range from $142,800 to $168,000.

So what happens next week when all three commissioner offices are empty?

The day-to-day commissioner responsibilities will be delegated to chief operating officer Gordon Miles and chief financial officer Cheryl Blahey, according to CGC spokesperson Rémi Gosselin.

However, there are certain functions that only commissioners — individually, or as a quorum — have authority to carry out under the Canada Grain Act. The ability to make by-laws (such as appointment of standards committee members), issue orders, and make regulations cannot be delegated, so these actions will be on hold until new commissioners are appointed.

Gosselin notes the functions of the chief grain inspector, chief weigher, and the CGC’s grain inspection and weighing services are unaffected. The licensing and producer protection roles of the CGC will also not be affected.

“Those functions of the commission, short of making orders and regulations, have been delegated and will continue,” he says.

Editor’s note: This article was updated late Nov. 30 to include a statement and information provided by the Privy Council Office.

Related: Wheat School: New Wheat Classes in Session as of August 1

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