A plan by authorities in the city of Hamilton to introduce a restaurant inspection posting system has been slammed as illegal because the Ontario province already has legislated procedures to ensure food safety.

Hamilton authorities have proposed a scheme that will require all food outlets to undergo health inspections. Once those inspections have been passed, signs may be posted on the restaurant#;s premises – if a business does not display a sign, consumers may assume that it has failed an inspection.

Tim Danson, a lawyer representing Ontario’s hospitality industry, argues however that such as system would mean that Hamilton was exceeding its jurisdiction and any by-law requiring restaurant owners to post signs regardless of their wishes would infringe on their freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Since when does the government have a right to compel a citizen or business to carry the government’s message when you are doing nothing wrong?” he asked.

The debate on the implementation of the proposed system in Hamilton began with public hearings yesterday [Monday].