In a new book about the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, The Oil Man and the Sea, author Arno Kopecky relates his attempt to interview Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) scientist Kenneth Lee. Dr. Lee was the executive director of the DFO-sponsored Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research, and possibly the country's top expert on how bitumen behaves in salt water.
Kopecky soon ran into the federal government's now infamous muzzle policy. An email to Lee earned him a reply informing him he would be contacted by a communications person, and he never heard from Kenneth Lee, or any other government scientist, again. Instead of answers to the questions he submitted, the communications department supplied him with a series of "bureaucratic talking points."
As for the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research, it has now been down-sized due to the budget cuts to the DFO in omnibus Bill C-38. Kenneth Lee resigned and moved to Australia.
The irony here is that the federal government claims it will ensure safe transportation of bitumen offshore from the Gateway pipeline's proposed terminal in Kitimat. But how are we to believe that when it cuts the budget of the very government agency responsible for the science designed to ensure that safety? And how well is the science to be done if the country's top experts are driven abroad? This government's disrespect for science is now undermining not only its credibility but its ability to manage its own pet program.