Yes, it is. You know that this kind of criterion no longer exists in Quebec. Competitions are held and there are several selection stages; as a result, out of x number of candidates, one is selected on the basis of the applicable criteria and this is as neutral a process as can be, while in Canada, the selection method used is a toss between antiquated and imperialistic. To know that the Liberal Party is present in every backroom of the Canadian government is to understand why, today still, positions as influential in our democratic system as that of returning officer are being filled by individuals whose main qualification is the fact that they belong or used to belong to the Liberal Party of Canada.
This in itself is reason enough to voice any concern we may have about the establishment of an agency with an advisory committee whose president and vice-president are appointed directly by the minister.
It is also baffling to realize that the entity created by merging these three departments responsible for food inspection will operate on a $300 million budget, according to our information. This represents a $44 million reduction, probably to please the Minister of Finance, whose objectives you know as well as I do.
So we end up with $44 million less and 600 fewer inspectors who used to work in the fisheries, agriculture and health departments. If I remember correctly, there used to be 3,400 inspectors, 600 of whom will be eliminated. How can we be expected not to worry about the quality and quantity of services that will be offered in the public interest, in an area essential to the very functioning of any society, especially against our claims of being a civilized and developed society, when faced with cuts of 600 jobs and $44 million, affecting, as I said earlier, all Canadians and Quebecers in their daily lives?
I hope this kind of comment will be heard so that the public interest can take precedence over any other interest in this matter.