Those in the way may end up in jail

When the Cohen Commission was holding hearings in Vancouver, I attended. It was not a happy or satisfying experience. The most unsettling single observation was of government scientist — a person known for opinions that challenge Ottawa’s papal view — being closely escorted by security personnel.

They  made certain there was no engagement with non-approved audience members. That highly educated and very well respected person was held on a tight leash because the entire event was not about science or fact-finding. It was about reinforcing positions that served objectives of bureaucrats who’ve never soiled their shoes with sea water.

A forum aimed at extracting truth from controversy should not have been a place where witnesses were intimidated by squadrons of lawyers and security personnel and legions of industry executives and flacks. Now, the Harper Government is moving to silence other scientists that hold inconvenient views.

Today, this arrived in my mail box. It’s worth republishing.

An important note from Alexandra Morton:

Last December, my lawyer Greg McDade made a prediction that was recorded in the Cohen Commission testimony – that within 12 months the federal government would attempt to strip the lab I am using to test for ISA virus of its international status.

He was right. They are trying.

In response I went back to the wealth of information Justice Cohen and his Counsel Brock Martland gave us on ISA virus in BC and laid out what is known to the Director General of the Organization of International Epizootics (OIE).

7 labs have detected ISA virus in BC, 4 of them are federal government labs, whose results have been hidden, muzzled or misrepresented in government communications

Only 1 lab says 100% of his tests have been negative – Dr. Gary Marty, Provincial farm fish audit lab. His lab is now an outlier.

1 lab is non-government and thus harder to muzzle – that is the one the CFIA has gone after.

Last spring government drafted Bill 37 that would have made this research punishable by 2 years in jail.

The CFIA is clearly under pressure too.

The workers in the fish farm industry must feel uncertain about their future as does everyone depending on the wild fish economy. This virus is well known to damage their industry, which is already on its knees running out of food and customers.

I am asking the Director General of the OIE to cast an international eye on what is happening in BC, in hopes that we will be able to finish this work without escalating harassment.

Here is my letter to Dr. Bernard Vallat, DG of the OIE

I could really use your help. Everyone needs to speak up, there is a petition on the site above. Share widely so people know they can help.

If you want to know the extent of what is going on please read my blog. This is sheer nonsense, in a high-stakes game that everyone looses; the shareholders, trade partners, fish farm workers, the wild salmon economy, politicians the wild salmon of the North Pacific and everyone that comes after us.

Categories: Fishery

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11 replies »

  1. There is quite an article in the Oct. 2012 issue of “Saltscapes”, a magazine published in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It outlines how the viruses are starting to infect the fish that live near the fish farms in the Maritimes. The article is titled “The Future of the (Fish) Farm. You can read it at their site but you must subscribe.


  2. I am outraged; I think I need to double up on my blood pressure medication. How do the mandarins that implement the government's will in these matters sleep at night? I believe I would resign sooner than follow a directive that I know in my heart to be wrong.

    Off the topic, but perhaps another reason for my sensitivity/anger is the news today that Harper has given the green light to the sale of Nexen to the state-owned Chinese companies CNOOC and Sinopec.


  3. Thank you Norm,I got the same e-mail….I also passed it to everyone i know….its strait bullshit and Alex has been putting up with it for a long time


  4. @Ole
    “I believe I would resign sooner than follow a directive that I know in my heart to be wrong.”

    I think that kind of decision is difficult. Should a government scientist (or other professional) walk away from decades of meaningful work because the government of the day doesn't like it? Does one wait it out in the hope of a more progressive government taking the helm in the future, or does one leave in protest now, and possibly deny Canadians from the benefit of your efforts in the future?

    To resign in the face of regressive repression is the natural response, but there are other longer term issues that have to be considered.


  5. Sounds like something from behind the Iron Curtain say about…..45 years ago?

    People need to stop thinking about the investment portfolios and start thinking like citizens.


  6. I am so impressed by your timely article. It opens a door very much like the F-35 scandal, the Afghan torture scandal, the electoral fraud scandal.
    I believe it takes Canada through the door and down a dark mysterious hallway to another door. Opening that door we realize we are looking inside The House of Commons.. and Stephen Harper is not the Prime Minister of Canada.

    Ms Morton was thorough.. and included this link in her letter to Dr. Vallat
    Its The Department of Justice (federal) the particular law is
    – Concealment
    8. No person shall conceal the existence of a reportable disease or toxic substance among animals.

    When reading the entire letter Ms Morton wrote it becomes quite obvious the Harper Government and the BC government could be taken down for malfeasance and incompetence. I read the letter very carefully, noting the careful facts she presents and how the recent Cohen Commission validates the acts and facts.

    Certainly a lot of legal delay, denials, suppression, obstruction would be unleashed by government and Arthur Hamilton.. but the facts remain. The orders to silence Christi Miller came from The Privy Council. We have verified collusion among BC provincial public servants, echoed through CFIA, through DFO – Keith Ashfield and from Stephen Harper's Privy Council.

    If The Privy Council acts independently (muzzling scientists, suppressing valid studies-findings) without specific and written direction from Stephen Harper the nation needs to know this immediately. We would need to know why the Prime Minister was unaware, and for how long.. Whether there is also a connection to or collusion via the Environment ministry and Peter Kent is another question. Certainly he is on public record – pretending scientists are not muzzled.

    There it is.. who knew.. ! A federal government that needs a tiny little push and it will topple.
    The irony ? Its a wild fish that will do it – and a marine biologist they could not muzzle
    who came here to study Orca and embraced the wild salmon.

    To think that Clayton Ruby is not up to speed on this is ludicrous. The salmon scandal continues to burn and throw sparks. When Canadian salmon is rejected for international export, the scandal will explode sky high. Even Canadians will look at salmon in stores with distrust. This entire scheme of suppression, discrediting, slashing fisheries science has failed. All they had to do was listen to Alexandra Morton and some of her key supporters, and hire them. Then act on the obvious but painful facts. Instead the BC government tried to pass legislation to put her in jail if she communicated her research. The Privy Council attacked Christi Miller in a vain attempt to suppress clear science. The whole cover-up just spiraled out of control.. right up to who else.. Stephen Harper.

    Let's see what freedom of information requests re Privy Council and Christ Miller turns up. Or anything from Privy Council re Alexandra Morton. Lets see communications from premier Clark in BC on these matters, CFIA, Keith Ashfield at DFO etc etc. Let's also see Privy Council specific direction to Department of Fisheries and Oceans related news releases. Harper is likely firewalled via Ray Novak.. so add his name to the information requests.

    Do you remember the film – Serpico ? About an honest cop in New York?
    And the classic question officer Serpico was asked by the Chief of Police. It went something like this ..
    'What outside agencies have you been in communication with?'
    I believe the answer was 'The New York Times ….'


  7. Anonymous December 7, 2012 8:07 PM

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment; you raise some valuable points. I think I was a bit rash and hasty, especially by writing in anger. Resigning one's job is a decision that should be made with a cool, clear head.

    You are right that it would be a difficult decision, especially if there is a family to support. However, I have seen in the news that other highly placed experts have resigned in protest against their employer, e.g. the head of Statscan last year. There are many highly distinguished folks in the National Research Council, Environment Canada, etc., and it's sad that we occasionally suffer a loss due to their leaving. I can only guess that they weighed the pros and cons and hopefully had other options before them, (perhaps another job offer) before making such a difficult decision.


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