Fracking returning to NB after firing of top doctor, says provincial NDP December 7, 2015 by APTN National News
New Brunswick’s top doctor was fired by the provincial Liberal government to clear the way for the lifting of a moratorium on shale gas exploration this spring, according to the leader of the provincial NDP.
Provincial NDP leader Dominic Cardy says a senior government source told him Eilish Cleary, New Brunswick’s now-fired chief medical officer, would stand in the way of a government decision to lift the moratorium.
A lifting of the moratorium would likely trigger a replay of the intense, Mi’kmaq-led protests that rocked the eastern part of the province throughout 2013. The demonstrations were centered around the Mi’kmaq community of Elsipogtog which was adamantly opposed to shale gas exploration in its claimed territory over fears it would lead to hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, and eventually poison the water.
… During the 2014 provincial election, the victorious Liberal party campaigned on a promise to impose a moratorium on shale gas exploration. Once in government, the Liberals created a commission to study the issue and give the government recommendations, expected in early 2016.
Cardy said Monday that the firing of Cleary was connected to the eventual lifting of the shale gas moratorium.
“I was told by a person in the bureaucracy today that Dr. Cleary would stand in the way of the report recommending that the moratorium be lifted,” said Cardy, in a Facebook message to APTN National News.
APTN contacted Premier Brian Gallant’s office seeking comment, but has yet not received a response. While in Ottawa for a premiers meeting with the prime minister in November, Gallant said consultation with First Nations was necessary on resource development projects.
Cleary had been the province’s chief medical officer since 2008 and in 2012 issued a report raised concerns about the health impacts of fracking.
She was also in the midst of conducting research into the use of glyphosate—a herbicide widely used on Crown land in the province—when she was put on leave several weeks ago.
Cleary announced Monday that she had been fired.
Cardy said there needs to be an independent investigation into why she was let go.
The NDP leader, who doesn’t have a seat in New Brunswick’s legislature, took to Facebook earlier Monday to criticize the Liberal government over the firing and linked it to the shale gas exploration moratorium.
“A senior source has told me Dr. Cleary had to be cleared away before the Liberals overturn their shale gas moratorium next spring,” wrote Cardy. “The Liberals used Dr. Cleary’s work to justify their first flip-flop on fracking. Now, with none of her recommendations having been acted upon, the Liberals need to make sure the Chief Medical Officer of Health is not around to point out their hypocrisy.”
The previous Tory provincial government was stuck with an about $10 million bill from the RCMP as a result of anti-fracking demonstrations. The demonstrations hit their apex on Oct. 17, 2013, when a heavily armed RCMP tactical unit raided an anti-fracking camp that had trapped shale gas exploration trucks.
The raid, which resulted in about 40 arrests, did not stop the demonstrations and they continued throughout November of that year and featured confrontations with the RCMP and burning tires on a provincial highway. … [Emphasis added]
New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health says she has been fired by the provincial government “without cause” and is “considering next steps.”
Dr. Eilish Cleary told CBC News Monday afternoon that she was terminated.
- Eilish Cleary not on leave to force silence: deputy minister
- Dr. Eilish Cleary studying glyphosate when put on leave
- Dr. Eilish Cleary, chief medical officer of health, on leave
“I can confirm that my employment as Chief Medical Officer has been terminated without cause effective immediately,” she said in an email statement.
“Although no cause is now alleged, the Government of New Brunswick has let me know that they have come to the conclusion that my particular skill set does not meet the needs of my employer.”
Cleary has been on leave from her job for weeks. She told CBC News last week she was “surprised and upset” that she was placed on leave by the Department of Health.
On Monday, she told CBC News she was first informed of her leave on Nov. 2. Government lawyers informed her lawyer of the termination on Monday, she said.
Cleary was hired for the job in 2008. “In that time I have done my absolute best to live up to my responsibilities — to protect and promote the health of the public and prevent disease and injury,” she said in her statement.
“I am saddened by this decision and concerned by how it has unfolded, and am considering next steps.”
Cleary also told CBC News during a telephone conversation on Monday that at no point during her employment was she informed of any personnel issue involving her conduct.
The Department of Health responded to CBC News Monday evening, but would not confirm that Cleary had been fired.
“We have an obligation to protect the privacy and personal information of all parties involved,” said Bruce Macfarlane, Director of Communications for the Department of Health.
“The human resources process that has been initiated is not politically motivated nor have questions been raised about the medical and scientific work being undertaken by the office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, which work continues under the acting Chief Medical Officer of Health.”
Calls for independent investigation
Former Tory health minister Ted Flemming says the government “has an awful lot of questions to answer.”
“This is a government that campaigned on how open and transparent they were going to be,” said Flemming.
“In their platform, they specifically referred to their high regard for the chief medical officer — how they would make their decisions in consultation with the chief medical officer. They held this out to the people of New Brunswick a little over a year ago and … now, she’s thrown out like yesterday’s newspaper.
“There’s tremendous questions here to be answered in my judgment.”
Flemming said he and Cleary didn’t always agree during his time as minister of health, but he described their working relationship as being “healthy” and “spirited.”
“There were times Dr. Cleary was perceived as being the champion of the anti-shale gas movement and our government had taken a position to move forward, but that’s what makes a healthy democracy,” he said.
Flemming described Cleary as being “passionate” about her job and someone who “cared deeply” about the people of New Brunswick.
NDP Leader Dominic Cardy is calling for an immediate independent investigation into the matter.
“The Gallant Liberals campaigned on ensuring the independence of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. I don’t think anyone thought that meant firing her,” Cardy said in a statement.
“The Liberals are silencing New Brunswick’s most prominent government scientist. We cannot expect civil servants to do their job when even prominent public officials like Dr. Cleary are muzzled.”
Cardy wants an independent investigation to determine why the Department of Health previously referred to Cleary’s suspension as being a human resources matter and now, according to Cleary, is saying her skill set does not meet the needs of her employer.
He also wants to known whether Health Minister Victor Boudreau and Premier Brian Gallant authorized Cleary’s suspension and subsequent firing.
Rally to support ‘strong, independent voice’
A group of protesters gathered outside the Department of Health office in Fredericton on Monday morning, before news of her dismissal, demanding Cleary’s reinstatement and clarity on the reasons behind her leave.
Rally in support of Dr. Eilish Cleary
The rally was organized by the Council of Canadians over concerns the move to place Cleary on leave may have been a political one.
Last week, the top civil servant in the Department of Health, Deputy Minister Tom Maston, released a statement saying the human resources process involving Dr. Cleary and others was “not politically motivated.”
Maston also said there had been no questions raised “about the medical and scientific work” being done by her office.
A member of the Council of Canadians, Anne Pohl, said last week she was worried about “corporate and political pressure” on Cleary, who had been studying the potential public health impact of the herbicide glyphosate.
Maston said in his statement that the “human resources” process was being handled by professional civil servants under the Civil Service Act.
Health Minister Victor Boudreau has previously refused to answer questions about the reasons for Cleary’s leave, citing a policy to not disclose information on personnel matters.
Boudreau told reporters last week Cleary’s leave “is a personnel matter. It’s not something we can comment about. It has nothing to do with the office per se, or the independence of the office. It’s an HR issue and I won’t comment anymore.” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
2015: Prevent Cancer Now calls out AER’s Health Fraud! “The AER has no jurisdiction for human health, and Alberta is famed for a chill against the medical community linking ill health to petrochemicals.” [“Experts” have been promoting the Alberta Model AER to frac New Brunswick with]
2015: Fracing Rerun in New Brunswick Government. Why? Did Jason Kenny and Senior Alberta Government Advisor, frac patent holder Dr. Maurice Dusseault complain that citizens aren’t brainwashed yet like they are in Alberta?
2015: Another Frac Panel? When will the many peer-reviewed studies and reports showing frac harm, bad economics and deadly jobs be enough? Former Chief Justice of Court of Queen’s Bench NB, Professor Engineering & President Emeritus University NB, former board chair of NB Community College appointed to study fracing
2015: SWN Resources suspends drilling program in New Brunswick: “[T]he commitment to a moratorium has forced us to suspend our drilling plans and rededicate resources to projects in other jurisdictions”