Whistleblower scientist not entitled to get job back, court rules

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Dr. Shiv Chopra has lost his 13-year battle to regain the Health Canada job from which he was fired in 2004.

The ruling came from the Federal Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

Chopra called it today a “travesty of justice.”

Chopra was one of three Health Canada veterinary scientists who spoke out in the 1990s about pressure from their bosses to approve drugs despite concerns about human safety. He and his colleagues, Dr. Margaret Haydon and Dr. Gérard Lambert, were eventually fired in 2004 for insubordination.

One of the drugs Dr. Chopra spoke out against was bovine growth hormone, which is used to boost milk production. It remains illegal in Canada because of concerns about animal health.

‘Last chance at justice’

Advocates for Chopra had called today’s hearing his “last chance at justice.”

In August 2011, the Public Service Labour Relations Board ruled Lambert had been dismissed unfairly and should be reinstated, but not the other two scientists.

The scientists’ union, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, was supporting all three in their bids to get their jobs back, and its president at the time said he was “perplexed” about why only one would be reinstated, given that all three had been fired the same day and for the same reasons.

A later appeal to the Federal Court of Canada led to Haydon being reinstated as well, leaving only Chopra’s firing to proceed to the Federal Court of Appeal.