While we consider the subject of contempt for the public by public officials, Damien Gillis provides a definitive view of its existence. In a must read report on testimony at the Cohen Commission, Gillis demonstrates how private citizen Alexandra Morton, backed only by non-commercial supporters, confronts obstruction by two levels of government and the multi-national aquaculture industry.
Gillis, despite his long-standing involvement with protection of wild fisheries, says,
“At the heart of the conflict lay the pattern of breathtaking industry-government collusion and secrecy that has characterized the aquaculture issue for decades – to a degree even I didn’t fully fathom until now.”
Gillis notes the effect of the collusion:
“When Morton’s lawyer Greg McDade attempted to enter a summary by his client on the subject into the record, he was met by an instant chorus of objections from counsel for the Federal Government, the Province and the aquaculture industry, respectively. I observed no less than eight objections between them within minutes.
“At one point, McDade fired back, “I don’t know why counsel for the Province is trying so hard to keep this evidence from being presented.” By this point, I’d wager most members of the audience could venture a hypothesis or two on that subject.
“…it was somehow Ms. Morton’s credibility that was on trial on this day – as Canada’s counsel suggested her summary of this disease story was “full of hearsay and speculation”, while the industry’s lawyer impugned her professional conduct, going as far as to accuse her of breaching her code of ethics as a Registered Professional Biologist. Through it all, Morton bravely, calmly stood her ground.”
For additional information, visit the Living Oceans Society.