Chapter activists rally outside the New Brunswick legislature on Dec. 16 to say #BringBackCleary.
The Council of Canadians Kent County, Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton chapters have been calling on the New Brunswick government to reinstate Dr. Eilish Cleary as the province’s chief medical officer of health.
Dr. Cleary was placed on leave by the provincial government on Dec. 2, then fired on Dec. 7. Last night, CBC reported, “The New Brunswick government has reached a settlement with Dr. Cleary… Deputy Minister of Health Tom Maston and Cleary issued a joint statement early Friday [Jan. 15] evening, announcing the confidential agreement…” That statement notes, “Dr. Cleary and the Department of Health have concluded a satisfactory agreement consistent with common law termination without cause principles.”
Council of Canadians Kent County chapter activist Ann Pohl had contacted Dr. Cleary to study the health and environmental impacts of the herbicide glyphosate, which is used by the forestry company J.D. Irving ltd. and NB Power. Dr. Cleary had agreed to do so and it is widely believed that this is why she was dismissed.
Last night’s news article adds, “The settlement comes after a groundswell of support for Cleary, including 20 current and former public health officers from across Canada stepping forward to vouch for her skills.”
The Council of Canadians was part of that groundswell.
On Dec. 2, the day that Dr. Cleary was placed on leave, chapter activists began a #BringBackCleary Twitter campaign. On Dec. 6, the Fredericton chapter organized a protest outside HSBC Place, which houses the Department of Health and the Chief Medical Officer of Health. That protest received coverage from the media, including a Canadian Press article and this Global News report. On Dec. 9, Council of Canadians organizer Tori Ball wrote this blog to continue to raise the profile of this issue. On Dec. 16, the Fredericton chapter held a media conference that garnered media attention including this CTV report. After the media conference, the chapter delivered a petition against glyphosate (the issue Dr. Cleary was studying) to the provincial legislature. And on Jan. 15, the chapters sent a letter to federal health minister Jane Philpott asking her to intervene in this situation.
The Council of Canadians also posted this action alert on our national website which resulted in hundreds of emails sent to the provincial government.
After the news broke yesterday, Fredericton chapter activist Joan Green commented, “We lost our Dr. Cleary! I don’t blame Dr. Cleary as she had to look after her family! One world class physician we will miss! The government doesn’t care about protecting the people! Such corruption in New Brunswick. I certainly hope people in this province finally wake up to the unbelievable corruption here and stand up with the rest of us!”
Our New Brunswick chapters will remain active on the issues of concern Dr. Cleary shared, including:
Glyphosate – The provincial government has been spraying 15,000 hectares of Crown land with herbicides to hinder hardwood saplings from infringing on fast growing softwood trees for the lumber industry. However, hardwood saplings are an important food source for deer and moose and it is believed their populations have steeply declined because of this.
Fracking – Provincial NDP leader Dominic Cardy has stated, “A senior source has told me Dr. Cleary had to be cleared away before the Liberals overturn their shale gas moratorium next spring. 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.”
Energy East – It is likely that Dr. Cleary’s research also included studying the health effects from the malfunctioning vapour recovery unit at the Saint John Irving Oil refinery. This unit was installed to reduce air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds linked to increased risk of cancer, but has been offline 37 per cent of the time from December 2012 to March 2015. If the 1.1 million barrels per day Energy East pipeline were to be approved, the amount of volatile organic compounds that would be released in the Saint John area would dramatically increase.