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The curious case of Dr. Cleary

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There’s a principle in communications that when there is a void, it will be filled. There is a void as wide as a Mack truck in the curious case of Dr. Eilish Cleary and there has been no shortage of fill.

In the absence of any plausible explanation from the people who know, those who don’t are filling the void with all manner of rumour and speculation. But more than anything else, with outrage.

Social media is all-abuzz and its collective wrath is landing squarely on the shoulders of the Brian Gallant government.

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Health Minister Victor Boudreau is hiding behind the usual screen of it being a “personnel matter”, adding later that her firing was not politically motivated.  But many are not buying that.

By keeping the reasons behind the popular and respected former Chief Medical Officer’s dismissal a mystery, the government has not only drawn condemnation on itself, but also on JD Irving. This because much of the speculation is that Dr. Cleary was let go because she was investigating the health risks of the use of glyphosate, a herbicide used by the forestry company, and one that the World Health Organization says is “probably carcinogenic”. People are connecting the dots suggesting, possibly quite falsely, that because of her research into this herbicide, Irving wanted her gone and the government was quick to comply.

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The government denies any connection, saying that research will continue, but unless and until it offers up something better, this belief will continue. Dr. Cleary isn’t speculating, at least not publicly, saying only that she’s also in the dark, saying all she has been told is that her particular skillset doesn’t meet the government’s needs.

Social media has been quick to call bullshit on that, and with no shortage of sarcasm, along the lines of the government’s requirements are for someone who will do only what they are told, and never to do anything that might upset Irving.  Other speculation ranges from the environmentalist company she keeps and her apparently related speaking engagements, to the language issue to it being about her stand on fracking. But far and away it’s the alleged Irving connection that is resonating most.

If JDI is completely innocent in this, the government is doing the company a major disservice by allowing this speculation to thrive by not clearing the air with the real reason she was let go.

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NDP Leader Dominic Cardy has called for independent investigation, calling it a muzzling of New Brunswick’s most prominent government scientist. Can’t see that happening but he makes a good point when he asks which is it –was she let go because of a personnel matter or because her skillset was lacking, as they have given both as reasons.

The words of Walter Scott come to mind “O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” 

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