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Quebec Premier apologizes to agronomist who blew whistle on pesticide study


Quebec Premier Francois Legault today apologized to a whistleblower who was fired after going public with concerns about the pesticide industry’s influence on public research.

Legault says the government will do what it can to return agronomist Louis Robert to the public service or compensate him.

Legault’s comments came a day after a report from the Quebec ombudswoman’s office concluded the Agriculture Department had not respected the law on whistleblowers and had let Robert down by publicly naming him.

Agriculture Minister Andre Lamontagne, who announced Robert’s firing last January, refused to apologize after the ombudswoman’s conclusions were published.

The premier said today his apology was on behalf of the government, and he reiterated his confidence in his minister. The province’s deputy agriculture minister resigned over the matter Thursday.

Robert, a seed expert, spoke out against private-sector interference in a public study on pesticide use. He was fired for transmitting a confidential document to a reporter and contravening secrecy obligations.

The union representing Robert has confirmed that the agronomist is interested in returning to his position.

Copyright (c) 2019 The Canadian Press