It takes two: Evans replaced as food safety-vet honcho at CFIA

The people I respect most are those I can have disagreements with, based on some sort of evidence, but can still share a beer with (preferably 1 beer, two or more swirly straws).

That’s why I’m in Brisbane with Amy, why I tolerate Chapman’s inability to write, and why I’m sad to see Brian Evans go as Canada’s top veterinarian and food safety dude.

Not surprising, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency needed two people to replace him.

Evans was appointed Canada’s first and only chief vet in 2004 and added the role as of
country’s chief food safety officer in 2010.

I don’t really know him, but Evans has always been forthright – as much as someone in government can be – patient, polite and eager. He seemed to have an extraordinary ability to tolerate meetings while appearing calm and collected.

I would last about three hours in government.

Evans worked in private practice in Newfoundland and Ontario before being recruited to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a veterinary inspector in 1982, and went on to establish Canada’s regulatory standards for international trade in animal embryos.

By 1997, he was named director of AAFC’s animal health division, and became executive director of CFIA’s animal products directorate the following year.

I have often praised Evans’ public and professional work during Canada’s first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in 2003.

Unlike every other country that has discovered BSE, consumption of beef in Canada actually increased. While price discounts, advertising, and promotional statements from various social actors about the safety of Canadian beef probably contributed to the sales increase, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was completely transparent, publicly showcasing — in the form of daily press conferences lead by Canada’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Brian Evans — a vigilant, proactive regulatory system, while acknowledging the likelihood that the disease was not limited to just one animal. Dr. Evans and his team provided daily updates that said, this is what we know, this is what we don’t know, and this is what we’re doing to find out more. And when we find out more, you will hear it from us first. Transparency, along with efforts to demonstrable that actions match words, is the best way to enhance consumer confidence.

Being on the frontlines is far more interesting than academic babble.

Dr. Martine Dubuc is Canada’s new chief food safety officer and Dr. Ian Alexander has been appointed as the new chief veterinary officer.

Dr. Dubuc has been with the CFIA since November 2008 and previously worked at senior levels in the Quebec government with responsibility for animal health and the food safety system. She will continue her work as the CFIA’s Vice-President of Science.

As Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Alexander will provide national leadership to ensure that Canada’s animal and veterinary public health infrastructure is positioned to effectively manage current and emerging disease threats in order to protect animal and human health, and to maintain international trust in Canada’s inspection and certification systems in support of market access.