Friday, December 16, 2011

Untruthful minister Don McRae must resign

McRae at BC farm of Norwegian company Greig Seafood
British Columbia Hansard, October 20,2011
Minister of Agriculture Don McRae:
"I'm pleased to say that over 5,000 samples have been tested for ISA in the last several years. How many came back positive? Let me think about it for a sec. Zero — not one.

"...We've put forward everything we have. We're not hiding anything."
Oh yes they are.

New York Times, William Yardley, December 15, 2011
"...The virus, infectious salmon anemia, has devastated farmed Atlantic salmon stocks in Chile and elsewhere. Some conservationists and scientists have long worried that the virus would spread from farmed fish to wild ones. Those fears escalated in October, when opponents of British Columbia’s ambitious farmed Atlantic salmon program, which is heavily promoted by the government, presented lab results they said showed an asymptomatic form of the virus in wild Pacific salmon.

"Several more reports of the virus have emerged in the past two months, including a draft paper suggesting that the virus was detected as early as 2002 but not revealed by the government, further angering farming opponents.

'...The most combative exchanges occurred during testimony by Kristina Miller, the head of molecular genetics for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans laboratory at Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. While previous reports of the virus had surfaced from sources outside the Canadian government, only to have Canadian officials question them, Dr. Miller testified that she also had received positive results when she tested for the virus, known as I.S.A. She said that when she reported her work to a superior last month, she was asked why she had conducted it at all.

“Nobody in the department talked to me about disease or I.S.A. after that,” Dr. Miller testified. At one point, she said she was frustrated at what she called “flippant dismissal of pathogens” that could be harmful."
The Times Colonist commented a few months ago on a communications plan uncovered at the Cohen Commission that noted DFO considers opposition to salmon farming the result of a confused and unaware public. The newspaper concluded:
"...the DFO should be a neutral, science-based regulator, ensuring that the best evidence is used to set standards for fisheries, farmed and wild, that protect the environment and the public interest. That role is undermined, even corrupted, if the government department becomes an advocate for a particular industry segment. Its impartiality and willingness to enforce standards is cast in doubt. Its pronouncements can no longer be trusted.

"Actions like forbidding scientists from discussing their research are taken as evidence of pro-aquaculture bias..."
While months ago there might have been a small element of doubt in the minds of people not directly involved, there can be no doubt now. DFO's role is undermined. It is corrupted. We know with certainty that bureaucrats consciously suppressed science that interfered with promotion of open net fish farming. DFO coerced scientists to suppress evidence and, in Dr. Miller's words, were guilty of "flippant dismissal" of reports they did not want to hear. Rather than supporting diligent investigation of potential harms, they wanted threats ignored.

This is not a question of poor judgement made after well-intentioned consideration. DFO policy does not result either from errors arising through confirmation bias. Instead, there has been a strategy of purposeful neglect and negligence aimed at supporting industry today without care for consequences that might arise tomorrow.

Confirmation bias is a phenomenon wherein decision makers actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or underweigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis.

Did BC Agricultural Minister Donald McRae consciously lie to the legislature in October or was he uninformed. Given the high profile of this issue, that his remarks were entirely unqualified and given his direct involvement in promoting the fish farm industry, McRae cannot be excused. I conclude he was not merely uninformed.

Dr. Todd B. Kashdan, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology reviewed research on verbal deception by two Stanford researchers. Kashdan offered clues to identify when politicians are telling lies. I paraphrase:
  • First, be wary of words that distance the speaker from personal ownership of what they are saying. Instead of first-person pronouns, they use plural words such as "We're not hiding anything."
  • Second, be wary of over-the-top glowing positive statements.
  • Third, be wary of absolute certainty.
McRae, scoring three out of three, should resign. He is not fit to continue as a minister of the British Columbia government.

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Don't miss Kristi Miller Steals Show Again as Salmon Inquiry Rocked by New Virus Bombshells by Damien Gillis at The Common Sense Canadian
"...They all asserted the vital need for more testing at this stage – something DFO has gone out of its way to avoid (with the exception of [Dr. Kristi] Miller, who has taken this work upon herself – to the great consternation of DFO managers, by whom she claims she has been completely ostracized for her recent investigations into the virus)..."
Alexandra Morton says:
"In my opinion, the salmon farming industry is getting better service from our government than we are."
H/T to Ms. Morton for the following:
DFO-599910[1]
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10 comments:

  1. Watching Don McRae during Question Period on the ISA concerns, it appeared very obvious from his baited, enthusiastic catch phrases that he was not telling the truth - in fact he was spinning fishy stories away from the truth.

    His performance was very pathetic, no acknowledgement of concern or action to address the issue responsibly, just bombast to deflect away from the ISA and promote their Aqua Farm Friends to whom it appears they have sold their "soles" for a few "fins".

    An honest government would let honest science seek and speak the facts as they find them. This bunch need to be thrown overboard, they are stinking to high heaven.

    Thanks Norm

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  2. While I voted for the Conservatives as the best alternative available to us at the time, I am disappointed with the way they are handling certain issues. I expected more honesty from them on all matters. Besides this issue, I am disappointed with the way some MPs are treating their position, they seem to think that they were annointed, not elected. Harper needs to start cracking the whip and demanding honesty and frugality from our MPs. He also needs to clean up the different departments and get rid of the empire builders and the lot that continually thinks that they know it all and they will not be confused by facts.

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  3. Sadly, Harper and his government are the real architects of the disgraceful DFO policies that ensure risks to the environment are almost ignored.This might arise from Harper's zealous following of the Alliance Church, members of which are bible literalists.

    One of their beliefs:

    "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

    (Matthew 6:34 NASB)

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  4. From The Canadian, it looks like the government side has been speaking cleverly, splitting hairs, playing semantics, or as regular people would call it: lying.

    The message is that ISA (disease) is not in BC: can't call it a disease until there's clear evidence of the virus killing salmon. And by their (unstated?) definition, ISA=ISA disease.

    Now ISA virus (ISAv) being in BC? Apparently the official spokespeople have never said a word about that. Quite sneaky and conniving.

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  5. Thanks again Norman for presenting a very important topic that should be on the front page of all provincial newspapers. It is not covered because main stream media has proven again that they have no ethics. Unfortunately, the gullible public continue to swallow the deceits and cover-ups of the most dishonest provincial and federal governments of my lifetime.

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  6. @Anon 7:50 am...

    It isn`t the MP`a doing anything on their own, Harper cracks the whip and MPs act as they`re ordered to.

    Rogue Harper MPs?...Not a chance.

    Blame Harper himself for these actions..

    Harper is not a God, he`s a false prophet!

    Sorry you wasted your vote.


    Good Day

    ReplyDelete
  7. And where did Dr. Miller publish recently, again?

    Oh, ya.....Science.

    Which is a place where rigorous review is actually taken very seriously, indeed.

    So.

    One can only wonder....

    How many Science papers do all those other dissenting folks from the DFO have, combined?

    .

    ReplyDelete
  8. RossK, I think there is more to that biblical quote noted above than readily understood by people not of the Christian fundamentalist persuasion.Science is not convincing when it challenges basic elements of the religion taught since early days of life.

    That belief drives some of climate change denial too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Norm--

    Agreed.

    But there is also the fact that to get a paper published in Science, you actually need to have demonstrable, repeatable data to back up what you say.

    In other words, you cannot just make stuff up, and then pretend it is true because you managed to get it wurlitzered out into the wider world via your favourite water-carrying news organ that will not, as a matter of course, actually fact check anything in a serious or rigorous manner.

    .

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  10. Don McRae was elected in BC Liberal-stalwart Stan Hagen's old riding. The neophyte politician, who ran on a platform that featured his renown as high school teacher, family man and all round nice guy, won the seat partly because of Green vote-splitting; there were two other defaulting factors. The HST factor needs little explaining: McRae wouldn't have won if the voters had known about Campbell's secret plan to bring in the HST. The Greens factor has been a problem for the NDP in several ridings. Indeed, if half the Green votes went NDP instead, these ridings, would have been NDP wins and the BC Liberals would have lost the government. Total Green percentages in each of these ridings were never more than single-digit, but even half of them would have overturned the final results, showing just how closely these ridings were contested. Most convinced Green voters indignantly reject the charge they are, in effect, unwitting accomplices to electing parties antithetical to their environmental ethos. I recall Gordon Campbell's glee as he welcomed Adrianne Carr to the televised leaders' debate, the second non-sitting party to have been so advantaged (Gordon Wilson's Liberals were the first.) No wonder he was smiling: it was designed to advantage the BC Liberals. It did, and has worked well several times over.

    McRae's nice-guy persona was forefront in successfully defending his seat from the Recall campaign. The final votes fell way short of the threshold, due largely to built-in disadvantages in the process, but there's no doubt that publicly funded campaign advertising that saturated radio and print media helped McRae.

    The NDP candidate gender quota definitely helped McRae to win as much as it did the NDP to lose. Despite having a long-time riding executive and experienced campaigner who very nearly beat Hagen in the previous election, but was disqualified from running last time, the NDP "nominated" a candidate whose only qualification was that she was a woman, a very nice lady who was unfortunately not qualified. This was painfully obvious at all the candidates' debates. The BC Liberals made hay out of this stupid policy, naturally, but it was demonstrably dumb when NDP supporters also openly criticized it. More hay was made out of that, too. I recall hearing something about it being done away with during last year's NDP caucus revolt. I'm disappointed the party has retained it, albeit in a watered-down form. It seems to me the party should remove any impediment to beating the BC Liberals. Gender equality is a laudable ideal but beside the serious task of turning out the BC Liberals, it is a detail that should take a back seat for now.

    I agree, Don McRae should resign. But since he belongs to an infamously unethical government, I'm not holding my breath. He'll run again in the next election.Although he didn't support her leadership bid (virtually nobody else in caucus did either) he's the kind of candidate Christy Clark likes, too wet behind the ears to have been fully tainted by the corrupt Campbell machine and still just beginning his political career. Yet his debut untruth will continue to tarnish his disreputable association with the disgraced BC Liberals. No more Mr Nice Guy. He won't be contending with an unmerited NDP candidate either (who just happens to be a woman, just not one who was forced upon the riding.)

    That leaves the Greens.

    ReplyDelete

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