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A summary of the case study
The case study on political stink overripe cheese centers around administrative problems brought about by political regulations and policies on food and drugs. The administrative issue causing controversies in the story concerns regulations put on cheese made with unpasteurized milk. In Canada, all other dairy products are made or manufactured using pasteurized milk according to the Food and Drugs Act 1996. It is the only cheese that is not included in this category.
The Health Minister, David Dingwall, together with Health Canada, proposed an amendment to the Act to eliminate the exemption of cheese from using pasteurized milk. The minister cited health concerns and risks posed by brie and camembert cheeses following a finding by a Canadian microbiologist who claimed that it was capable of causing illnesses and even death. This move to amend the Act does not only trigger angry reactions from different quarters including the public, media, and restaurant business people, but it also angers several nations such as France and Quebec (Brooks, 1996).
Actors, names, and positions
The first actor in this issue is Bill Lammekak, the Minister for Health and Welfare in Canada. He is considered to have performed poorly in his former ministry of Public works. The minister and other bureaucrats pushed for use of pasteurized milk by the Quebec cheese producers against objections from many users claiming that it posed a high risk of illness. The Minister used his position of influence to have the Food and Drug Act amended claiming that his interest was to protect Canadians from health problems that would emanate from unhealthy cheeses.
The next actor is Mr. Faucher. He is a representative of the government of Quebec. While sharing a meal with the Canadian Prime Minister and other guests, he spots the Prime Minister eating a camembert cheese and uses that to criticize the role of the Minister of health in intending to eliminate unpasteurized cheese made in Quebec. He feels that the Canadian minister should not enjoy French cheese while at the same time allow his ministers to condemn it.
Besides Mr. Faucher, the other actor is Sid McWilliams. He is a microbiologist working for the federal government. His role as a scientist doesn’t seem to please him especially when the government hands him the responsibility of shouldering the proposal of unpasteurized cheese (Brooks, 1996).
Sid feels that he has been dragged into cheese politics. He finds himself supporting the politics of cheese in media interviews. Being a well known and respected microbiologist, the government uses him to provide facts of illnesses and deaths due to listeriosis caused by unpasteurized cheeses. This is meant to win the support of those who doubt and oppose the bureaucrats.
Furthermore, the case study mentions Maria Patella, the assistant deputy minister. She thinks that bureaucrats and politicians make policies and decisions without setting appropriate measures to counter the opposition. Like the microbiologist, she feels entangled in matters of raw-milk cheese.
Major administrative problem
The administrative problem in the case study revolves around bureaucracies and policies set by leaders in the government, which interferes with traditions, cultures, and freedom of choice. The move to eliminate unpasteurized cheese from the market receives less support from most quarters such as from the prime minister, the assistant deputy minister, and the general public. The bureaucrats and the Minister of Health and Welfare in Canada create policies and intend to amend the Food and Drug Act to have all dairy products pasteurized citing health issues and other hazards from unpasteurized ones such as brie and camembert.
To the French, the move by the Canadian administration was a fight against French culture. It is imperative to note that different societies have diverse cultures. The distinctiveness of diverse cultures in doing things makes societies unique. Banning unpasteurized cheeses from Quebec clearly illustrated the imminent failure among Canadian administrators to understand Quebec’s interests and culture.
Moreover, concerning the relationship between the minister and his officials, there was a lack of coordination and support. Even though the assistant deputy minister and the microbiologist are working with the minister of health, they don’t agree with the bureaucracy since it was not properly planned for and they were not ready to be embarrassed or lose their careers over petty cheese conflicts.
Significance of the problem
The problem caused by bureaucrats and political leaders in public administration resulted in a lot of problems from various sectors. Amending the Food and drug Act 1996 and banning unpasteurized cheese was similar to fighting the French and Italian cultures as well as young cheese producers in Quebec (Brooks, 1996).
Additionally, cheese merchants and restaurateurs in Canada were affected since they depended on French and Italian cheeses such as parmesan, Roquefort, brie, and camembert for business. Consumers and lovers of unpasteurized cheese strongly opposed the amendment terming it as an Anglo-conspiracy. This problem, however petty, was significant in the sense that it involved interfering with cultures and traditions of others, as well as the freedom of the public to choose which products to consume.
Why it occurred
The issue on cheese began when the health minister commented in public that unpasteurized cheese had a funny smell. The issue occurred from a joke that the health minister had made on a radio interview on unpasteurized cheese.
Definition of terms and concepts
Legitimacy- It refers to the right to exercise authority or power by an individual or a group granted by the government or state.
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Bureaucracy- comes from the Greek or French word bureau which means office. Therefore, bureaucracy simply stands for the rule of the office.
Brooks, S. (1996). Political stink over ripe cheese. Toronto: The Institute of Public Administration of Canada.