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Dec 7 Senate meeting on whistleblower protection (fwd)
> From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Dec 3 12:00:47 1999
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> Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 11:59:12 -0500
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> From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Dec 7 Senate meeting on whistleblower protection
> Dec 7 Senate meeting on whistleblower legislation - Everyone invited
> Next Tuesday, Dec 7, at 4:30 pm, (Centre Block, Room 172E, Parliament Hill,
> Ottawa) the Senate Committee on Privileges, Rules, and Regulations will be
> meeting to discuss whistleblower legislation to protect government
> employees who report concerns in their department.
> The meeting was in response to action against Dr. Shiv Chopra, a scientist
> at Health Canada who was suspended for five days without pay after he
> testified before a Senate Committee about pressure in his department to
> approve bovine growth hormone and other drugs of questionable safety.
> The public is invited to attend this meeting to support Dr. Chopra and
> other government employees who put their career on stake by voicing their
> concerns that public safety is being compromised due to the cozy
> relationship between industry and government.
> An article on this issue follows:
> Ottawa Citizen
> Friday Dec 3, 1999, Page A4
> Bill would shield whistleblowers from retaliation
> Senate to probe scientist's suspension after testimony against growth hormone
> Jack Aubry
> When whistleblower Shiv Chopra testified before a Senate committee last
> year about a controversial hormone, he was reassured he would not face
> repercussions from his employer, Health Canada.
> Almost a year later, the department disciplined him with a five-day
> suspension without pay -- for what it said was an unrelated incident.
> The Senate will hold hearings next week to see if the suspension is related
> to the revealing testimony Mr. Chopra gave.
> "Dr. Chopra was concerned that the evidence he would give, which was
> critical of his employer, would be used against him by that employer," said
> Conservative Senator Noel Kinsella, who also tabled a bill yesterday in the
> Senate on whistleblowing.
> Mr. Kinsella noted that no job action was taken against Mr. Chopra until
> five months after the cited offence, which occurred before the scientist's
> last two appearances at the agriculture committee.
> Mr. Chopra was one of five Health Canada scientists who were witnesses
> before the Senate's agriculture committee in October 1998 during its study
> on the bovine growth hormone, rBST, and its effects on human and animal
> safety. He also testified this past April and May before the same committee.
> The Health Department said in January it would not approve rBST in Canada
> because of concerns about animal health, adding that human health was not
> considered an issue.
> The Senate's agriculture committee had cancelled the October 1998 meeting
> after the scientists said they were concerned about the repercussions to
> their careers if they testified. Health Minister Allan Rock subsequently
> wrote the committee a reassuring letter that any suggestion the employees
> were under threat was "completely without foundation," and the meeting went
> ahead later that month.
> Mr. Chopra testified at the time that the scientists were being "pressured
> and coerced" to approve the hormone intended to boost milk production in
> dairy cattle. The scientist testified that without meaningful long-term
> studies on animals and then on humans, it would be unsafe to release the
> hormone into the basic food system.
> As well, he raised questions about the ethics of making cows sick to
> produce more milk.
> In July, Mr. Chopra met with Health Canada officials to discuss comments he
> made at a Heritage Canada conference in March, and was given a five-day
> disciplinary suspension which he served in August.
> Health Department officials says Mr. Chopra was disciplined because he
> appeared at the Heritage conference without prior authorization, since he
> was listed as "drug evaluator, Health Canada."
> Mr. Chopra says he appeared in his capacity as president of the Federation
> of the Race Relations Organizations of Ontario.
> Mr. Kinsella says his private member's bill on whistleblowing emphasizes
> "educating and promoting ethical and professional practices in the public
> service, and establishing a method by which wrongdoing may be reported by
> public servants without fear of retaliation."
> The bill would hand responsibility for dealing with whistleblowing to the
> Public Service Commission, which would investigate and report allegations
> of wrongdoing and see that wrongdoing is dealt with.
> Mr. Kinsella cited testimony before the agriculture committee from deputy
> minister David Dodge in October 1998, when he said the allegations being
> made by the scientists were being examined and they deserved the protection
> of "due process."
> Conservative Senator Terrance Stratton said it "took a lot of courage" for
> the scientists to testify before the committee. He told Mr. Dodge "the last
> thing this committee wants to hear is that one of them ends up in Timbuktu."
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