Heatwave as Cohen Inquiry Heads for Summer Break
The Cohen Inquiry finally caught fire this week as a heat-wave swept through British Columbia.
Today's public hearing is the penultimate day before Justice Cohen calls a summer recess until 18th August. Fireworks are expected in the week starting 22nd August when the salmon farming disease issue rears its ugly head - until perhaps 9th September.
The presence of Dr. Richard Beamish, DFO’s former head of the Pacific Biological Station, brought Mary-Ellen Walling of the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) and Clare Backman of Marine Harvest to sunny Vancouver - along with the Wild Salmon People.
“My inspiration,” said Dr. Beamish as he hugged Mary-Ellen Walling like an old flame just before he took this witness stand today (Thursday, 7th July).
"BC is perfectly positioned to develop aquaculture," gushed Dr. Beamish as he promoted aquaculture and suggested that a salmon farming industry which used genetically engineered plants for fish feed was "safe to eat" and "safe for the environment".
Mary-Ellen Walling representing the BCSFA, Clare Backman of Marine Harvest and a representative of Cermaq took their seats at the front of the public gallery.
Sadly, photographs are banned by the Cohen Commission inside the courtroom. Dr. Laura Richards, regional director of science at DFO famously objected in March to her photograph being taken in the lift on the way up to the courtroom. What does a publicly-funded civil servant have to hide from a public inquiry?
More to come later today when Dr. Dick Beamish is cross-examined.......
This afternoon's session continued with Dr. Beamish giving evidence.
"The back and forth could easily go like this," wrote Elly Edwards on the Facebook group page 'Salmon Inquiry: Cohen Commission Watch': "Well you can't prove that the farms are causing the decline" " Well, you can't prove that they are not" followed by a series of "Are not" "Are too" "Are not" "Are too"...and them Dick Beamish says for the umpteenth time, "Well, let's take some time on this..."
Under cross-examination by lawyer Greg McDade, Dr. Beamish admits he is "not 100% sure" (not for the first time). His brain is threatening to go all "fuzzy" like Dr. Laura Richards, DFO's regional director of science, when she gave evidence to the Cohen Inquiry in March.
"Maybe it's aliens," jokes Dr. Beamish. "Obviously I don't believe in aliens".
"This is bad science?" asks Greg McDade as he rips apart Dr. Beamish's scientific work. Thankfully, Dr. Beamish recently retired from DFO. His future career and scientific credibility would be in jeopardy otherwise.
Saved by the bell! It's now 4pm and Dr. Beamish wriggles off the hook like a sea-lice infested escaped Atlantic farmed salmon.
Following the summer break (starting tomorrow), please mark your calendars for the week beginning 22nd August when the infectious disease issue sparks off the debate at the Cohen Inquiry.