Help wanted: CGC seeks new leadership

Two top slots are open at the federal agency


If you want to be a Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) commissioner, or chief commissioner, now’s your chance.

The Canadian government is advertising both positions on the CGC’s website and Twitter.

Applicants must apply online for the positions, which are cabinet appointments. The deadline is Tuesday (June 30).

The jobs involve lots of travel in and outside of Canada and good salaries. Commissioners’ salaries range from $150,200 to $176,600 a year; the chief commissioner is paid $242,700-$285,500.

Both jobs are based in Winnipeg, where the CGC is headquartered.

Patti Miller, the current chief commissioner, is retiring this month. Her appointment otherwise would have expired in 2023.

Commissioner Lonny McKague’s four-year appointment expires in February 2021. McKague, the CGC’s assistant chief commissioner, Doug Chorney, and Miller were appointed Feb. 13, 2017. Chorney’s appointment doesn’t expire until February 2022.

Why it matters: CGC commissioners oversee the commission and maintain close links to farmers and grain companies.

The CGC is a federal government agency that reports to Parliament through the minister of agriculture.

The three commissioners are the CGC’s executive, setting the CGC’s direction, establishing policy and administering and enforcing the Canada Grain Act.

The commissioners also have quasi-judicial powers on some matters.

While ideally those chosen will have the right experience and aptitude, a commissioner learns on the job. Few people have a working knowledge of the Canada Grain Act, or understand wheat chemistry.

The tradition of both Liberal and Conservative governments has been to appoint commissioners from each of the three Prairie provinces (or British Columbia’s Peace River District).

In addition, commissioners have been farmers — as is the case for McKague and Chorney — or from industry, which is Miller’s background. She also had worked for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

The CGC was created in 1912, following years of protests from western farmers who complained grain companies and railways were treating them unfairly.

The strength of the commissioner system is that it gives the grain sector, including farmers, confidence those overseeing the CGC understand the grain business, and especially farmers’ needs.

“As set out in the Canada Grain Act, the Canadian Grain Commission’s mandate is to, in the interests of producers, establish and maintain standards of quality for Canadian grain and regulate grain handling in Canada to ensure a dependable commodity for domestic and export markets,” the government says in its posting for a new chief commissioner.

A big part of the CGC’s role is grain quality control, which underlies Canada’s reputation for delivering high-quality grain.

— Allan Dawson is a reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator at Miami, Man.

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