Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Smoking Gun in harper's hands?

Commenter "The Salamander" has passed along some links about a story wherein the harpercons are deliberately suppressing scientists studying diseases in salmon farms. This is all out of my balliwick, but as I understand it, the story is as follows:

1. Canada is legally obligated to inform the relevant international authority about the appearance of a new disease among Canadian fisheries as well as to inform that same international authority as to the spread of a disease from another part of the world to Canadian fisheries.

2. In the short-term, reports of diseases among the fish in Canadian fisheries (especially fish farms) will have a negative economic impact. For that reason, harper likes to suppress such findings, presumably until it's impossible to hide the truth anymore and the whole thing explodes in a mess of diseased fish and sick humans and lawsuits and harper firing the female cabinet minister who is closest to the debacle.

The first link is from Northern Insight and there's a chilling account of the appearance of a government scientist at a public commission:
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.
The next is a letter from Dr. Alexandra Morton about suppression of scientists by the harpercon regime:
I think it is important to recognize what scientists who report on novel farm salmon disease outbreaks endure unpleasant consequence.
Consider Dr. Kristi Miller who runs a federal DFO government lab with a staff of 22. She is well published including in the journal of SCIENCE on the 18-year decline of the Fraser sockeye. Miller is adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia, on the editorial board of Immunogenetics, a scientific reviewer, and sought after to give seminars internationally. Miller, dedicated to sharing her work on immune function and disease in fish, has co-published in over 65 scientific papers. A BC salmon farming company went to her with unexplained mortality in jaundiced farmed chinook salmon. But when she detected ISA virus in these fish (Cohen Exhibit 2053), her work did not elicit government response to confirm and contain. These farm salmon were in several floating netpen farms in the region of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The Biosphere status was partly due to its wild chinook runs, runs that are inexplicably crashing. DFO should be concerned to find ISA virus in farmed chinook salmon among a declining wild chinook population. But the only visible government response was to muzzle this scientist. 
That ends with this link where you can read:
 A fisheries biologist has not only been muzzled by the federal government, but her lab could be in trouble as well, Postmedia News has learned.
The lab’s current “funding model,” which has been paying many technical staff, has been found to be “non-compliant with DFO policy,” Ruth Withler, a senior scientist in the lab wrote in a Jan. 13 message to staff in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The document, released under access to information laws, says the decision to change the funding model could be “jeopardizing future involvement of DFO science staff” in the type of “innovative research” done in Miller’s lab.
Miller is head of the Molecular Genetics Laboratory, based in Nanaimo, and Withler helped pioneer the genetic tests used there.
Miller and Withler were not allowed to give interviews to discuss the funding problem, and DFO’s media office responded to questions with a terse written statement.
The office said a Treasury Board directive from late 2009 indicates that outside funds, or “special purpose money,” must not be used to pay the salaries of government employees.
About half the lab’s 19 highly technical staff have been paid for years using external funds. DFO’s media office says between $600,000 to $800,000 a year of outside money has been used to pay the salaries of eight to 11 of the lab’s staff, depending on the year.
Several federal labs across Canada are said to be affected by the Treasury Board directive, but Miller’s lab is one of the hardest hit because it has been so successful at attracting money and clients. While Withler’s message says the directive could threaten future research, the media office said the department will continue to pay the salaries. The lab, which has been described as a “CSI for fish,” plays a key role in managing the troubled Fraser River fishery. It tests fish for hatcheries, private companies and first nations groups, but its biggest client is the Pacific Salmon Commission, an agency financed by the Canadian and U.S. governments that helps run the Fraser fishery.
 So, personally, I think that while this is no doubt illegal under international law, I have a hard time believing that harper will fall based on suppression of information about diseased fish if he's already broken Kyoto Accord obligations and violated international human rights laws as well. It is though, more of the same needless stupidity that brought us the F-35 idiocy and which makes harper and his gang of idiots unfit for public office.

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