Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Defending the Defamer

It isn't surprising that an Alberta government scientist would deliberately lie to defame two Tar Sands critics. It really isn't surprising that the head of tar sands research for the Alberta Environment ministry would stoop so low. It isn't even surprising that his government masters would subsequently rally to his defence.

As William Marsden chronicles in his book Stupid to the Last Drop, Alberta has a rich history of resorting to the underhanded and unscrupulous to get back at legitimate, honest critics of the tar sands. Marsden relates how Ralph Klein even went after world-class University of Alberta hydrologist, Dr. David Schindler. According to Marsden, Klein was so angry with Schindler speaking truth to power that he tried to have him sacked.

Which brings us to the head of Alberta's tar sands research, Peter MacEachern, and the slime job he tried to pull on Peter Lee of Global Forest Watch and independent biologist Kevin Timoney. In March, MacEachern told an audience at the University of Alberta that Lee and Timoney lied and used doctored statistics.

To make a disgustingly long story short, Lee and Timoney hire a lawyer and MacEachern promptly folds, apologizing with this mea culpa: "The statements in my presentation that you did these things were false and I regret very much that I made these statements. ...You did not lie. You did not choose to remove data from your study ... I undertake to refrain from making any allegations in the future that your lied in your 2009 study."

So, was the Alberta Environment ministry furious that MacEachern had besmirched his and their credibility? Hardly. From CTV:

Alberta Environment spokesman Chris Bourdeau defended McEachern. "He was very apologetic," Bourdeau said. "He realizes how he framed his viewpoint was not the best approach."

MacEachern got called out and took one for the team. As far as the government of Alberta is concerned, liar or no, MacEachern is their sort of guy.

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