Salmon biologist Alexandra Morton

Alexandra Morton: Farm Disease Secrecy Act Quietly Withdrawn by Minister


The following is a press release from Alexandra Morton

Victoria (May 31, 2012) For Immediate Release.

In the face of enormous public outcry, agriculture Minister Don McRae quietly withdrew his Bill 37 that would have made disease reporting in animals an offence punishable by two years in prison and $75,000.  The stated intent of the Bill was to encourage greater disease reporting by farmers in BC.

On May 3, Privacy Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham wrote a highly critical letter calling Minister McRae’s bill “extreme”, pointing out Bill 37 “would override the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act” saying “this is a matter of deep concern considering the importance of disease management” and tying it to salmon farming.

Citing the debate in the House between Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture, Lana Popham and McRae, arguing the definition of the word “person”, Andrew Gage of West Coast Environmental Law wrote McRae, “I strongly advise that you seek legal advice…”.

A petition continues to grow targeting supermarket chains Loblaws, COSTCO and Safeway asking them to stop selling farm salmon that have tested positive for viruses.

On Tuesday, McRae began to retreat telling the media that he was going to amend his Bill to suggest that it would not apply to media or the public, only to government workers, but he left that on the order paper, never standing in Parliament to bring it forward.
“If Minister McRae wants higher disease reporting compliance, why didn’t he create a Bill to make it mandatory that all farmers in BC report disease, instead of attempting to take away free speech in violation of the Constitution of Canada,” says biologist Alexandra Morton. “I am deeply grateful for all the people who wrote McRae and signed the petition, this was an extremely close call with oppression.”
Bill 37 could rise when the BC Legislature sits again.



5 thoughts on “Alexandra Morton: Farm Disease Secrecy Act Quietly Withdrawn by Minister

  1. both federal and provincial governments do not like any form of whistle blower. While bill 37 was supposedly geared to farm problems it would have been easily stretched to include all whistle blower type leaks. The public would have been effectively muzzled from spreading any negative reports on anything.

  2. “Far more important than sea lice and IHN on fish farms is the risk of avian flu and swine flu developing on poultry and swine farms without any disclosure to the public.”

    While I don’t agree with disease being un-important in any products we consume, the legislation would have hidden the information about swine and bird flu also. The 1918 flu epidemic was H1N1 influenza virus. This pandemic lasted almost 3 years; spread even to the Arctic and remote Pacific Islands. Between 50 and 130 million people died.

  3. =-09*/yeah I agree john.. ALEXEnder is Great.. It’s to bad our govt prefers muzzled scientist.. Over restoring our west coast wild salmon to the pre Salmon Farm days.. there used to be tons of great jobs .. Tons of salmon.. In the early 1990″s gill netting on the fraser river Sockeye was fantastic.. WE SHOULDN ‘T HAVE TO PROVE 150% WHATS KILLING OUR WILD SALMON.. a LOT OF PLACES HAVE SAMLON FARMS ON LAND THAT DONT CONTAMINATE THE WATERS.. tHESE PEOPLE NEED TO STEP UP.. .STOP HIDING BEHIND GOVT>l>> DO WHATS RIGHT..

  4. Far more important than sea lice and IHN on fish farms is the risk of avian flu and swine flu developing on poultry and swine farms without any disclosure to the public. Avian flu and swine flu are known to morph into forms virulent to humans. Remember the Asian bird flu? Remember H1N1? Yet, no-one is going on marches or raising public awareness about these human epidemic disease factories! (Why do we care more about salmon health than human health?) So, I thank Alexandra Morton for her efforts in quashing this ridiculous piece of legislation, even though I disagree with most of her work…

  5. This has showed how inconsiderate the BC Liberal government appears to be and without the fighting by Alenandra Morton, BC would be a different place with corporations really influencing government.

    We now have to collectively stop the major supermarket chains from selling what amounts to “Diseased Fish” for public consumption. No consideration for the well being of the public health – just maximize profits regardless.

    I know we wont ever be buying fish – of any sort, from these supermarket chains again.

    I guess the only way to get even is to stop giving your money away eh !

    By the way, Alexandra Morton’s battle is known world wide – so is the support she has gotten in her battle with the federal and provincial governments. Greed and hypocrocy is doing Canada a great deal of harm – something Harper should be ashamed of.


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