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Cup of Joe – Government Policies

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Welcome friends, grab yourself a ‘Cup of Joe’ (and maybe an antacid), pull up a chair and let’s chat about some really ridiculous and over-reaching government policies that seem to defy common sense

This will be the first of a two-part blog addressing two specific matters related to animal welfare and Canadian federal regulations and policy.

The number one occupational hazard of my 26 year career with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) was the frequent questions I would get from family and friends about custom duty rates and procedures, immigration matters, etc.. And I am still getting those questions, now in my retirement.

A year ago, a friend asked me about the new regulations being enforced at the border by CBSA on behalf of the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) pertaining to the importation of dog food from the US into Canada. I told my friend they must be mistaken in terms of what they had been told were new regulations. I had not heard of these changes, nor could I have imagined in my wildest dreams, that what they were told could possibly be true. However, I decided to look into the matter and, as a life-long bureaucrat, I have seen some pretty inane governmental policies and regulations – but nothing to top the CFIA policy changes pertaining to dog food imports into Canada. These are the changes regarding personal importations of pet food from the US into Canada:

Travelers may bring into Canada a personal import of pet food (limit of 20 kg), if the import meets all of the following requirements:

Cup of Joe - Government Policies
“Joe, is it OK to eat this?” Photo: Victoria by Joe McParland

1. The pet food or product must be of United States origin and be commercially packaged.
2. The pet food or product must be in the possession of the traveler at the time of entry from the U.S.
3. The animal that will eat the imported product must accompany the traveler at the time of entry.
4. The imported product is fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveler into Canada.

Click here for more details.

I can understand requirements 1 & 2, especially in light of the tainted dog food and treats imported from China that tragically sickened and killed so many of our domestic pets a few years back in North America. Of course, we government oversight is required for the quality and safety of the dog food imported into Canada. (This is the type of oversight and government regulation that President Trump rails against in the US, and is currently under the axe for funding in the US budget).

BUT – requirements 3 & 4 give me the BIG WTF??? You can’t be serious! CFIA seriously expects Canadians who buy some weekly groceries in the US at Kroger, Costco, Meijer’s etc. – perhaps as they return home to Canada from their US based job – to now have to bring Fido with them in order to bring his/her Purina Chow into Canada? And it better be HIS/HER food – and no other dog’s food – otherwise Fido could be busted for a false declaration. Who the hell came up with such a ridiculous policy regulation like this? And who is going to enforce the requirement and ensure that the food declared by/for one dog is actually consumed by that dog, and no other dog? Are we going to have a specialized K9 unit trained to detect the truthfulness of our pets’ declarations?

This regulation also requires that I, as a Canadian resident, must now bring my Victoria (my greyhound) over to the US if I choose to get her dog food at Kroger’s or Farmer Jack’s or other grocery outlet’ otherwise I will not be in compliance with this new policy and could have to forfeit the imported pet food. During the summer months when temperatures outside can hover in the upper 80’s, am I expected to leave Victoria in my car while I run into the store to get her dog food? I can’t expect Kroger to allow me to bring her into the store, nor do they want my unattended car idling in their parking lot with the A/C on for Victoria, nor am I going to leave the windows down for her.

I am not some extreme libertarian or right wing conservative that feels wrongly done in by government regulations and oversight. Regulatory measures generally protect our health, well being and prosperity. But sometimes regulations such as the one I’ve just discussed mystify beyond belief, failing to safeguard our health, well being and prosperity. The ‘ivory tower’ bureaucrats in Ottawa need to descend their thrones and see how life is lived by ordinary Canadian folks (and their dogs) …