Fired Quebec scientist blew the whistle on pesticide lobby influence


Quebec government scientist Louis Robert was fired from his job after a 32-year career for exposing industry influence in public research on pesticides. Image courtesy Radio-Canada.ca

In May 2009, Quebec government scientist Louis Robert was 15 minutes away from entering a conference room to give a lecture about phosphorus when he got a phone call from his boss ordering him to call it off.

His boss threatened to move Robert into another office to perform administrative tasks if he dared to proceed with the lecture.

A year earlier, a senior public servant summoned Robert to a meeting at a restaurant with his boss, in which the scientist was told to cancel an on-camera appearance with journalists to talk about the management of fertilizers.

The interview was scheduled to be four days away, but it was cancelled and the journalists were then forced to send their questions to the ministry to proceed with their reporting.

Both incidents were recounted in an email sent to National Observer by Robert’s public sector union.

Throughout this period, the union said he was trying to alert his superiors about attempts by industry to suppress publicly-funded science on the health effects of pesticides.

Robert was previously employed at Quebec’s Agriculture Department for three decades.

All in all, the scientist was personally ordered to cancel these types of appearances “five to six” other times over the past few years, according to his union. MORE

 

‘Coverup!’: Opposition erupts as Liberals shut down emergency meeting on SNC-Lavalin affair

Opposition MPs wanted to press Liberals to call Jody Wilson-Raybould back to testif


Opposition MPs want Jody Wilson-Raybould to return to the Commons justice committee. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Opposition MPs hurled angry claims of a “coverup” today after Liberals used their majority to shut down an emergency meeting of the committee probing the SNC-Lavalin affair.

The meeting was requested by Conservative and NDP members to press the Liberals to recall Jody Wilson-Raybould to testify again, even though the Liberals already had defeated a similar motion.

But less than 30 minutes after the meeting began, the Liberals voted to adjourn.

“I have never been so disgusted by the conduct of my Liberal colleagues,” said Conservative MP Michael Cooper after the committee broke.

“They have done the bidding of the PMO.”

Opposition MPs were making another bid to bring the former attorney general back to testify before the committee today, warning that Canadians would see any attempt by the Liberals to block them as evidence of a “coverup.”

Justin Trudeau is transforming the justice committee into the Justin committee

While casting their votes, opposition MPs shouted at their Liberal counterparts, calling their actions “despicable” and “disgusting.”

“I’m strongly voting opposed and I’m shocked at the behaviour of my colleagues,” said NDP MP Tracey Ramsey.

The committee is scheduled to meet next on Mar. 19 — a closed session that coincides with the tabling of the federal budget.

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