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MLA Checklist to reinstate Chief Medical Officer is launched in New Brunswick – “It is Dr. Cleary who protects us.”

The breath and strength of the groups at Wednesday’s Press Conference in Fredericton was a testament to the unprecedented storm that has washed over the Province of New Brunswick in the last week.  All were there to show their support for one person, Dr. Eilish Cleary, our highly-respected and award-winning Chief Medical Officer of New Brunswick.

Campaign launched to ‘Bring Dr. Cleary Back for the Holidays’ (Dec. 16, 2015) (24:14)

At the front table were Jim Emberger of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA), Grand Chief Ron Tremblay of the Wolastoq Grand Council, Maggie Connell of the Council of Canadians – Fredericton chapter, Alex Bailey of the Fredericton and District Labour Council, and Kedgwick filmmaker Charles Thériault of IsOurForestReallyOurs.com. 

Also in attendance were Matthiew Vienneau and Francine Levesque of Stop Spraying in New Brunswick (see their 10,000-strong Facebook group), a new group that has launched a petition in rural communities against the widespread use of herbicide glyphosate spraying and their effect on the health of people and animals.

Dr. Eilish Cleary was fired by the Brian Gallant Liberal Government just over a week ago. Many Liberal MLAs were as surprised and shocked by the announcement as were their constituents.  The majority of Liberal Ministers and Backbencher MLAs were not included in this decision, were not given any advance warning of it, and first learned of the firing in the news.

The central message is that groups around the province will be encouraging people to e-mail, phone, and meet with their MLAs.  And they will use an online MLA Checklist to keep track of MLAs who speak in public or release press statements that ask to reinstate Dr. Cleary.   This includes both Liberal and Progressive Conservative MLASs.  The MLA Checklist will be regularly updated on this website: 


To spread the campaign across the province, people will be encouraged to post responses from their MLA on Facebook and Twitter, whether positive or negative. People will also be encouraged to decorate trees, wreaths, and other visible objects in their house, in their community, and in their favourite natural wonder (e.g. forest, stream, river, wetland, bay) with objects that include the message “Bring Dr. Cleary Back for the Holidays”. To help this initiative, there are 6 “Cleary cards” on the weblink above that people can download and print.  People are encouraged to take pictures of these decorations in their community or favourite wildlife area, with the name of the place on the card, and post them on Facebook and Twitter.

Maggie Connell started the Press Conference by reading the names of 21 organizations, 9 health professionals, 39 academics, and 20 community leaders who were the first to sign the following statement:

“Between now and the holidays, in the spirit of giving and trust, we are asking our government to bring Dr. Eilish Cleary home for the holidays.  During the election, the government committed to ‘ensuring the independence of the medical officers of health.’ We, the undersigned, are calling on the Government of New Brunswick to reinstate Dr. Eilish Cleary as Chief Medical Officer of Health.”

Any group, academic, health professional, or community leader who wishes to add their name to this list can send their name in to the following e-mail:


The Council of Canadians has launched an action alert calling on New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant and health minister Victor Boudreau to reinstate Dr. Cleary. Please support this effort by clicking here.

The solidarity at the table to reinstate Dr. Cleary was unequivocal and profoundly moving:

(Grand Chief Ron Tremblay)  Dr. Cleary, what she represents for the Wolastoq people is that she speaks for the land.

“It brought me back to an incident that just occurred this past May to Dr. John O’Connor, who was working for numerous communities in northern part of Alberta.  He was studying on the increased rate of cancer within the communities and he was going to file a report and he was fired.  There was no cause why he was fired, and the increased rates of birth defects within the Chippewa territory was growing.”

“Dr. Cleary, what she represents for the Wolastoq people is that she speaks for the land.  And Wolastoq people, many of us still totally depend on the land.  We harvest moose, deer, muskrat, and we pick berries, fiddleheads, and we fish.   So when this alarming study was going to be put forward by Dr. Cleary, it was very, very shocking to us.  We realize this spray this industry was putting all across our territory – our unceded territory – and it could cause cancer.  So the alarm flag went up. 

We are very, very concerned about our wellbeing, and about the animals.  We know that Dr. Cleary not only spoke for people, but that she spoke for the trees, the fish, the water, and all the animals.  So we urge, and we demand, that Dr. Cleary be reinstated.   What they’ve done is they muzzled her for what she was finding.  And as Wolastoq Grand Chief, I demand the Province that they reinstate her.” 

(Alex Bailey) To ensure the best interests of public safety in our communities.

“The Fredericton and District Labour Council supports this initiative in an effort to ensure independence, oversight, accountability, and most important, objectivity of our government in looking at the science behind public safety issues. And we feel that this action is necessary to help keep the issue alive and to ensure the best interests of public safety in our communities.”

(Charles Thériault) We do not intend to allow the poisoning of New Brunswickers, the poisoning of our forests, and the poisoning of our land.

“Now the question of glyphosate is raised all over the world.  It has been banned in many areas.  It has been determined as probably cancer causing.  And recently, Rod Cumberland, a former DNR employee [Department of Natural Resources] who was responsible for the deer population, has stated that the drop in deer population is directly related to glyphosates which basically kills everything except for the spruce tree.  So there is no food for the deer, the deer go elsewhere, and they die.  The population drops.   

So I am really preoccupied by the poison that we are spraying on our forests.  The poison then drops into our rivers and affects all wildlife.  And the fact that in this new forestry plan, they’re talking about doubling the silviculture in the province, so that means basically doubling the spraying of glyphosates, while all others are banning it. 

So I think at this point, the fact that we have a Medical Health Officer who is looking into it, and then her plug gets pulled, really tells me that the government doesn’t want us to find out, or to become aware, of what’s happening here.  And that’s why I’m here today.  And that’s why I’m supporting this initiative.  And I really want us to tell our governance here that we do not intend to allow the poisoning of New Brunswickers, the poisoning of our forests, and the poisoning of our land.” 

(Jim Emberger) We hope the end of the story will be just like ‘A Christmas Carol’

“In the spirit of Christmas, it’s a little cautionary tale, a little version of the Christmas Carol, when we have the part of Ebenezer Scrooge being played by Brian Gallant who just before Christmas fires his long-standing, loyal, and hard-working employee played by Eilish Cleary.  And this panel here is the visit from Jacob Marley you says to Scrooge that you are forging a long chain here of bad things that is going to affect you way into the future, so expect to be visited by the spirits who will tell you about this.

And so the first spirits that come that night are the Spirits of Government Past, played by Shawn Graham and David Alward, who, amidst all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, say that they were cut off before their time, they only got to be one-term governments.  And the reason was because we paid so much attention to our friends who we talked to in the backrooms and the hallways of the Legislature, and in our rich, influential businesses in the Province, and we didn’t listen to the people who actually elected us. 

And then he was visited by the Spirit of the Government Present and had only to look around to see this great hue and cry arising from the public.  And the reason behind that was also because the public was caught unaware by things that had been decided by the government in private, and had never listened to the people who were being affected by it. 

And then finally, it got to see the Government of the Future and they showed him the Legislature in 2018 and there was hardly a Liberal seat in the House.

So we hope the end of the story will be just like ‘A Christmas Carol’ is that Scrooge is going to look along and realize the errors of his ways, and will find the fattest goose in all of Fredericton and send it along to Eilish Cleary along with the promise to have her job back.  And I think that if that happens then all of us in New Brunswick can say ‘God bless us everyone’.” 

(Maggie Connell) People across this province are feeling vulnerable.

“In New Brunswick, all of us, every single one of us, we deserve a strong, independent voice that will speak up for our public health and the environment.  As adults, all of us can make choices; we have options, we can make those choices. Our children cannot.  They cannot make those choices.  It is imperative that they have someone to protect what is going to ultimately be handed off to them, and to the grandchildren, and all those to come.

How can the Chief Medical Officer do her job objectively, efficiently, unless she can speak independently on what she finds?  Dr. Eilish Cleary is what stands between us –  the public – and industry, or any kind of disaster coming.  It is Dr. Cleary who protects us.  She protects our children, she protects our grandchildren, and she is protecting what we’re going to hand off to our great-grandchildren.   Without her voice, there are people all across this province who are feeling very, very vulnerable, and so they should. 

So we are simply asking, demanding, that Dr. Eilish Cleary be reinstated in time for the holidays.  We are not asking any questions about why or how, or anything.  We just want her back, we need her back, we will have her back, whatever it takes.

And a final note to our MLAs, we are making a list and we’re checking it twice.”

Bring Dr. Cleary back for the holidays!  #BringBackCleary