I keep forgetting to post about this important story. Here's an article from March - but I think there are new developments today, from the ombudsman's office. Stay tuned!
In May 2009, Quebec government scientist Louis Robert was 15 minutes away from entering a conference room to give a lecture about phosphorus when he got a phone call from his bossordering him to call it off.
His boss threatened to move Robert into another office to perform administrative tasks if he dared to proceed with the lecture.
A year earlier, a senior public servant summoned Robert to a meeting at a restaurant with his boss, in which the scientist was told to cancel an on-camera appearance with journalists to talk about the management of fertilizers.
The interview was scheduled to be four days away, but it was cancelled and the journalists were then forced to send their questions to the ministry to proceed with their reporting.
Both incidents were recounted in an email sent to National Observer by Robert's public sector union.
Robert was previously employed at Quebec's Agriculture Department for three decades.
All in all, the scientist was personally ordered to cancel these types of appearances "five to six" other times over the past few years, according to his union.
Throughout this period, the union said he was trying to alert his superiors about attempts by industry to suppress publicly-funded science on the health effects of pesticides.
Phosphorus is a mineral that can pollute water as a result of runoff from fertilizers used in agriculture.An overabundance can lead to the growth of toxic bacteria, for example on Canadian lakes.
His supervisors gave him the brush-off. Eventually he leaked a document to Radio-Canada, feeling he had an obligation to inform the public.
He gave a journalist at the public broadcaster an internal note. This document revealed a crisis unfolding in the provincial grain research body, Centre de recherche sur les grains (CÉROM).
The leak triggered an internal investigation. Robert was suspended on Sept. 12 and put in limbo for over four months, the union says, until he was fired on Jan. 24.