Cohen Commission “advisers” under fire

A few folks are pretty excited about some of the “science advisers” hired by the Cohen Commission – Public Inquiry into Declines of Fraser River Sockeye. I can safely say I don’t disagree with the criticism. How does it make sense for a 30-year DFO bureaucrat Dr. Brian Riddell, who left relatively recently to head up the Pacific Salmon Foundation (which receives over $1 million per year from DFO)?

Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is supposed to be under scrutiny in this Commission — including past bureaucrats decisions — now there are four individuals appointed to the Commission that have long ties to DFO.

As Mark Hume suggests in his Globe article from this past weekend:

Tory MP smells something fishy about commission into sockeye collapse

I don’t necessarily always agree with John Cummins’ opinions and rants on some fisheries issues; however, I think he’s got a pretty good point on this one…

Seems the Cohen Commission is continuing down a slippery slope… one covered in sockeye slime…

Raif Mair also has some comments on this issue at the Common Sense Canadian.

Cummins Raises Potential Conflicts of Interest in Cohen Sockeye Commission

The Cohen Commission also released a Discussion Paper last week outlining “Issues that the Commission intends to Investigate“.

Pretty broad, pretty fluffy – however some promising issues such as “cumulative impacts”. Glad to see it… as I keep saying anywhere and everywhere “there is no smoking gun”. This a cumulative decline caused by a variety of factors; some within our control, many outside of our control.

The Common Sense Canadian website has a short interview with Dr. Daniel Pauly, who reflects exactly this message:

Dr. Daniel Pauly on the Fraser Sockeye Collapse.

4 thoughts on “Cohen Commission “advisers” under fire

  1. tlellami

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I really like the sites content, regular updates, and the breadth of discussion on various topics.
    I must say that I’m not so sure I agree with your criticism of Brian Riddell’s appointment to the commissions scientific panel. Yes, he did work many years at DFO, but it is widely discussed that he left a very prestigious position because he was tired and fed up with the bureaucracy that muddled any serious scientific inquiry into B.C.’s fisheries. Because of this, I welcome his appointment to the inquiry, and hope he voices his real thoughts on both DFO’s organizational structure and their allocation of limited resources, amongst other things. Regardless of how “independant” Dr. Riddell is or isn’t, I’m confident that Dr. Walters will not let anything go unsaid or un-challenged.
    Yet, at the end of the day, it will be Judge Cohen’s words that the minister, the PM and the public see. It is he (and the political process) who I have concern with, if anyone.

  2. salmon guy Post author

    thanks for that… great screen name.
    I can see the weighting on both hands on this issue…

    On one hand, I think you’re on the mark with Dr. Riddell’s disgruntled departure from DFO and the value that he may bring to the Commission. On the other hand, he’s also a potentially valued witness to this “legalistic” process – and thus may have positioned himself in a conflict of interest. This is the position that Rafe Mair takes in his article (that I’ve linked to in the post) – it’s not a question of his integrity or ability to provide an honest opinion; it’s the slippery slope of potential conflict.

    The problem with any conflict of interest is the credibility gap that it may (or may not) create.

    As John Cummins points out (there’s several press releases on his website), there may (or may not be) similar conflicts with Dr. Walters (as frank as he can be) and others.

    Personally (if you or anyone else was curious) I’m not holding my breath on this $15 million (or so) process. If it comes out with some kabang on recommendations – great; however, we’ve all been through this before… as mentioned in previous posts one of the last public inquiries was actually titled “here we go again…”.

    At least back then, wild salmon were worth more than $2 each (see #1 visited post on this site in sidebar).

    here’s to hoping for change… as hope is about what’s left.

    thanks again for the comment, and great to hear the positive feedback.

  3. ospreysteelhead

    I can’t speak for any of the others, but having known Thomas Quinn personally for more than 6 years I can attest to his integrity and his desire to bring objectivity to the process to find a favorable solution for the future of Fraser Sockeye. Whether a conflict of interest may arise from his potential value as a witness I don’t know, but I can say that Tom does not have a vested interest in Salmon Farms and loves wild salmon like very few others on the face of this planet.

  4. salmon guy Post author

    appreciate the comments. I certainly don’t mean to question folks passion for salmon or great work done on past projects. Conflict of interest is just one of those nebulous things that shifts around lots of gray… And of course when it comes to salmon folks get fired up.

    thanks again and appreciate the link.

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