Canadians call for independent investigation into whistle-blower firings
JUNE 8, 2005
OTTAWA – Canadians are calling on the federal government to convene an independent investigation into the firing of Health Canada whistle-blowers Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon and Gerard Lambert.
Petitions signed by thousands of Canadians will also be introduced in the House of Commons this afternoon by members of all three opposition parties -- Nanaimo-Cowichan MP, Jean Crowder (NDP), Hochelaga MP Réal Ménard (Bloc Quebecois) and Oshawa MP Colin Carrie (CPC).
The petition follows hard on the heels of the three scientists’ presentation to the Standing Committee on Health on May 19 and the Federal Court decision on April 29 that ordered the Public Service Integrity Officer to reconsider complaints from the three scientists. The scientists assert that they were pressured, harassed and finally dismissed for speaking out about the dangers of mad cow disease and about the use of hormones and antibiotics in the food supply, particularly the use of bovine growth hormones.
All three scientists were fired on July 14, 2004, shortly after the Martin government took office. No satisfactory explanation has been forthcoming from either Health Canada or the Prime Minister’s Office.
“All we want is an open, public investigation into what happened to us,” says Chopra. “Then the truth will come out. Our job was to protect the health of Canadians, and that’s just what we were doing. We believe that the public has a right to know the full story.”
“Parliament must not turn a blind eye to the fate of these courageous scientists,” said Mike McBane, national coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition. “The whistle-blowers are on the front lines, putting health protection ahead of business interests. If the government is unwilling to launch a full investigation, it bodes ill for the future health of Canadians and for our democracy.”
“There has been an incredible outpouring of support from Canadians all across the country who are outraged by this scandal,” observed Cathy Holtslander, of the Beyond Factory Farming Coalition. “We certainly hope that Parliament will now act to ensure that a full, independent and transparent investigation will be done as soon as possible.”
The BFF Coalition is a network of local, provincial and national groups including the Council of Canadians. It promotes livestock production that supports food sovereignty, ecological, human and animal health, as well as sustainability and community viability and informed citizen/consumer choice.
For more information about the whistle-blowers see:
- Federal Court Decision
- Transcript of May 19 Health Canada meeting
- Canadian Health Coalition clipping archive (pdf)