- 2012 DEC 6, UPDATE (INPUT FROM PAULA AND MY RESPONSE).
INCLUDES (2006) EMAIL FROM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PMRA, KAREN DODDS, DEFENDING THE CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST BETWEEN WOLF AND THE INDUSTRY, (PURSUANT TO MY MEETING WITH HER IN OTTAWA)
2. (2004) LETTER FROM LAWYER THREATENING TO SUE ME
3. (2004) MY RESPONSE TO LAWYER
4. (2004) THE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE, Scientist (Tom Wolf) faces funding conflict accusations
5. (2004) MY LETTER TO CITY OFFICIALS
6. (2004) MY STATEMENT
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1. (2012) UPDATE, DEC 6 (INPUT FROM PAULA AND MY RESPONSE)
Hi Paule, Geraldine and Sharleen,
I added this to the documentation on the Wolf case.
It is a fine example of George Orwell’s “newspeak”, done by Karen Dodds, Executive Director of the PMRA at the time I called the conflict-of-interest on Wolf.
I do not know how these “doctors” (Dodds and Wolf) get away with these actions.
BACKGROUND (Paule, you will remember this):
At a SEAC (Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee) meeting, in response to a statement I made about the de-registration by the PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Health Canada) of a chemical combo called mecoprop (and the fact that they gave the industry 9 years to get the product off store shelves,) Wolf jumped on my statement and said that mecoprop had NOT been de-registered, and he should know because he works for the PMRA. I subsequently sent the announcement about mecoprop from the PMRA to SEAC members, to refute Wolf’s claim that mecoprop had not been de-registered.
The following is the email I received from Karen Dodds (Executive Director of the PMRA, responsible for the regulation of pesticides), after meeting with her and her second-in-command, Connie Moase, in Ottawa.
As I say, Orwellian newspeak. She says that Wolf is not and was not an employee of the PMRA. But they are the ones who paid his salary and costs. She completely avoids the question of the up to $10,000 per contract that Wolf was simultaneously receiving from CropLife (lobbyists for the pesticide industry) and had been for at least 8 years.
(2006) EMAIL FROM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PMRA, KAREN DODDS, DEFENDING THE CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST, WOLF AND THE INDUSTRY (PURSUANT TO MY MEETING WITH HER IN OTTAWA)
Received: Fri 01/09/2006 1:44 PM
From: Karen Dodds [Karen_Dodds AT hc-sc.gc.ca]
To: sabest1 AT sasktel.net
cc: Eileen Quinn
SUBJECT: Follow-up TOM WOLF FROM DODDS MOU
At our meeting on Monday, we discussed a number of issues. I wanted to provide you with information quickly on one specific issue. You raised a concern regarding a federal public servant, Dr. Tom Wolf, thought to be a PMRA employee, and a potential regarding conflict of interest. I did some investigation and would like to provide you with the information we have on file here at the PMRA.
Dr. Tom Wolf was (and may still be) a Research Scientist employed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) at their Saskatoon Research Centre.
He is not, and was not, an employee of the PMRA or Health Canada. PMRA had a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with AAFC concerning research into spray drift and application technology of pesticides, an area in which Dr. Wolf has expertise and has conducted research. Under this MOU, PMRA provided funds to AAFC to support the scientist and specific work.
Conflict of interest was explicitly dealt with. It was clear that Dr. Wolf would not be in a decision-making role, but would be providing advice to PMRA. For example, he contributed to the development and implementation of spray drift modelling. Under the MOU, Dr. Wolf retained the right to conduct normal collaborative research activities as an AAFC researcher.
The MOU was effective from April 2002 to March 31, 2005.
AAFC has a Research and Development program, known as the Matching Investment Initiative, which encourages and supports collaborative work between AAFC and industry. As a Research Scientist at AAFC, Dr. Wolf may have participated in this program with industry collaborators.
Avoiding and preventing situations that could give rise to a conflict of interest is a responsibility, not only of managers in the public service, but of all public servants. We also want to avoid and prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest and I have taken note of your concerns in this regard.
Karen L. Dodds, Ph.D.
Executive Director/Directrice exécutive
Pest Management Regulatory Agency/Agence de réglementation de la lutte antiparasitaire
Health Canada/Santé Canada
Tel.: (613) 736 3708
Fax: (613) 736 3707
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
you may find this interesting. I came across it googling for pesticide complaints- SK Ag. I will have to phone them to see if they even still have inspectors as there is no mention of any complaint mechanism anywhere on the site.
Not only that, but it was written by Tom Wolf, presumably the same guy who was heading the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee (sub-committee) when the pesticide bylaw was defeated a few years ago.
I found this tonight after not being able to find anything ever before. I underlined the important parts which is that they are more worried about image and that the goal justifies the means I guess.
Anyhow below is what I am planning to write on the SNAP web site.
How much protection from drift is there in SK?
Spray Drift – Causes and Solutions (Last Update: April 1997) SK agriculture. (Link no longer valid)
Self-propelled high clearance sprayers can travel at speeds up to 35 km/h (22 mph). Faster travel speeds cause a finer, more drift-prone spray to be produced, which stays in the air longer. The net result is a finer spray more exposed to winds that can move it off-target. Research tests have confirmed that faster travel speeds increase drift, evenwhen applied with a coarser spray (Figure 4). “Some herbicides and insecticides are prone to vapour drift and can seriously hurt animals and humans. Vapour drift can occur even when there is no particle (droplet) drift, and even dry spray deposits can send vapours into the atmosphere. Vapour drift increases with air temperature, therefore the application of volatile products should be avoided on, or just preceding, hot days.” It is also recognized that: ‘At no or very low wind speeds, the drift cloud can move in an unpredictable direction and cause damage.’
The document link is below if the above link does not work.
(Link no longer valid) http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=11ba5e46-8c3b-4115-88e7-26d9749b05ac
MY REPLY TO PAULE:
Thanks Paule. Interesting that it was written by Tom Wolf.
Yes – – Tom was the full-time Govt scientist responsible for buffer zones in crop spraying. He worked directly with the industry (CropLife) – – they paid him up to $10,000 per contract, and at the time I happened on it, (2004) he had been on their payroll for 8 years. How much he collected per year and in total, not known. I don’t know whether he was ever stopped from working for them.
The buffer zones were substantially reduced from what had been originally established (I want to say to one-third but don’t want to trust my memory on that).
Background for Geraldine and Sharleen:
As a member of SEAC (Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee – – purpose, to make recommendations to City Council on environmental matters) Tom volunteered to chair the sub-committee tasked with making a recommendation to Saskatoon Council re a pesticide bylaw. I happened to attend a meeting of SEAC at which other members of the sub-committee thanked Tom profusely for hosting their meetings at his home, complete with refreshments AND writing up their recommendation to Council all on his own, they didn’t have to do a thing.
The recommendation was: more education, no bylaw.
Donna found reference to Wolf’s work in the industry publication “Groundswell”. Work he was paid to do (as mentioned), while simultaneously being an employee of the Agency that is supposed to regulate the industry (the PMRA, Pest Mgmt Regulatory Agency) – – according to what he said at the SEAC meeting (” . . . I should know because I work for the PMRA”) .
Although I did not have speaking rights at this particular SEAC meeting, I managed to place Wolf in a position where he was required to answer the question whether he was the same Tom Wolf as in the Groundswell publication.
All of which led to a front page story in the Star Phoenix (charging conflict-of-interest) and a letter to me from Tom’s lawyer, threatening to sue me for defamation. The correspondence with the lawyer, my reply and the newspaper article are posted on my blog (below).
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2. (2004) LETTER FROM LAWYER THREATENING TO SUE ME
Mon 04/10/2004 4:17 PM
This will advise that I am Stephen Nicholson’s assistant.
Please find inserted a copy of the letter, the original of which is being forwarded to you via courier this afternoon.
Karen D. Woolsey
kwoolsey AT sasklaw.com
This message and any attachments are confidential and may be subject to solicitor-client privilege. It should only be read by the person to whom it is addressed. Any dissemination, distribution or copying of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, notify us by reply and delete the message. Thank you.
Woloshyn & Company
Barristers & Solicitors, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
tel: (306) 244-2242 // fax: (306) 652-0332
October 4, 2004
DELIVERED VIA COURIER AND E-MAIL
200 Scotiabank Building · 111 Second Avenue South · Saskatoon, SK · S7K 1K6
· Telephone (306) 244-2242 · Fax (306) 652-0332
Re: Tom Wolf File No.: 28231.1 – 10
Please be advised that we act as solicitors on behalf of Tom Wolf.
Our client has provided us with a copy of an e-mail which you have sent to various members of the Saskatoon City Council, the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC), the Auditor General, and various media outlets (INSERT: I didn’t send anything to the media, explained in response to lawyer).
Some of the statements in your communications, regarding Mr. Wolf, are untrue, and defamatory. As a result of these statements, Tom Wolf’s character, credit and reputation in the community has been injured.
We further understand that you may be speaking to City Council this evening, and we wish to ensure that you will not be repeating those untrue statements during that presentation, nor in any future communications or presentations.
Specifically, your communications have used the phrases “who is on the payroll of the chemical industry” and “Mr. Wolf gets paid by the chemical industry and he seeks funds from them”. These statements are false. Mr. Wolf does not receive payments from the chemical industry.
You are free to disagree with any policy position expressed by Mr. Wolf, but you must do so using accurate and truthful information. Further, you cannot attack those positions through the use of misleading and inaccurate attacks on his personal character and reputation.
At this point, Mr. Wolf has not ruled out the possibility of commencing legal action against you for the previous statements that you have made which are untrue and defamatory. However, we wish to put you on notice that any further similar actions by yourself will result in legal action being commenced against you without further notice.
Please govern your actions accordingly.
WOLOSHYN & COMPANY
STEPHEN J. NICHOLSON
3. (2004) MY RESPONSE TO LAWYER (Tom Wolf is a “doctor” but I couldn’t bring myself to address him as such.)
Dear Stephen Nicholson:
I am in receipt of your registered letter, October 4th and email copy of same.
The email I sent to City Council contains information provided verbally by Mr. Wolf himself at the September 23rd meeting of the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC), in reponse to the written question handed to him (approximate wording), “Is this the same Tom Wolf as whose work appears in the communications of CropLife? If so, he is in a serious conflict-of-interest”.
In his response, Mr. Wolf said that he was seconded from Agricultrue Canada to work at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Mr. Wolf specifically stated that he has been paid by CropLife and that he seeks funding from them. He specifically stated that he has written a manual for CropLife. I gather that he provided the amount of one payment ($10,000.00) to the reporter from the Star Phoenix, as I interpret the newspaper article regarding the conflict-of-interest.
If “Mr. Wolf does not personally receive payments from the chemical industry”, as stated in your letter, then he should not state that such is the case. Whether one calls the payor CropLife or the chemical industry is a matter of semantics.
I question the intent of your statement “We further understand that you may be speaking to City Council this evening (etc.)”. Presumeably you, in your experience as a lawyer would know better than I, that sensitive matters involving individuals will be dealt with in camera. That would be routine.
If intended for me, the statement “Any dissemination, distribution or copying of this message is strictly prohibited.”, I respond that you sent the communication to me. I am free to do with it as I wish, except to alter it.
In light of the preceding points and other statements in your letter, I view your letter to me as an intimidation tactic. Gangsters bully people through threat of broken bones. The chemical industry has an established history (I will be happy to provide specific examples should you desire them) of attempting to intimidate through the threat of harm to the person’s finances and well-being, utilizing the legal system as the weapon.
For the record:
I did not send my complaint to “various media outlets”. I did send it to the other affected parties you named – the City, SEAC and the Auditor General (who issued an extremely critical report on the PMRA in October 2003 and who therefore has an interest). I also sent it to my personal email network.
The matter reached the Star Phoenix because a City reporter saw the vaporooter item on the Sept 23rd meeting agenda for SEAC. He knew of my interest in the subject from an earlier meeting of SEAC which he had attended. It was quite natural for him to phone me.
(INSERT: in 2006 I was in Ottawa and met with the then-Head of the PMRA, Karen Dodds, to challenge the conflict-of-interest. (And I wanted to see what kind of people these Government employees are – they must know the disease outcomes associated with pesticide poisoning. Certainly, they have received lots of documentation. How can they side with the industry and ignore the consequences, especially for children? Incredibly cold-hearted.)
The reply from Karen Dodds (an email) explaining that it is okay for a full-time Govt scientist to be simultaneously working for the industry because the PMRA signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Tom Wolf appears in #1 above. Note that Tom Wolf was working on the mandated buffer zone for sprayed crops, something that the industry wanted reduced. The buffer zones were later reduced VERY significantly.
Tom Wolf attended a presentation by David Suzuki at a National Farmers Union Convention. He (whiningly) asked Suzuki what University employees were supposed to do, they need to raise money. Suzuki didn’t bite. In his inimitable forthright form, he said simply, “The University has sold its soul to the devil.”)
4. (2004) THE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE, CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST ACCUSATION
Sept 29, 2004
Scientist faces funding conflict accusations
By Rod Nickel of The StarPhoenix
A research scientist who helped draft recommendations against banning pesticides in Saskatoon receives project funding from the chemical industry. That puts Tom Wolf squarely in a conflict of interest, charges environmentalist Sandra Finley. Wolf, the vice-chair of the environmental advisory committee, heads an internal task force examining whether Saskatoon should ban lawn pesticides.
The task force’s recommendation that the city educate the public about the health risks of pesticides instead hasn’t yet received council approval. Finley sent a mass e-mail to city politicians and administrators (INSERT: I just went to the City web-site and sent an email from it. I didn’t know it would be “broadcast” so well from there!) Tuesday, calling for Wolf’s removal from the environment committee. Wolf, a Saskatoon-based scientist with the federal Agriculture Department, also works with the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Specializing in pesticide spray drift, he says it’s necessary to work with chemical manufacturers, who form a trade association called CropLife Canada.
For eight years, pesticide manufacturers have helped fund Wolf’s Research projects that involve their products. Wolf says funding is typically less than $10,000 per project, but declined to provide a funding total. While the contributions help fund his work, he said he has never collected personal income from the manufacturers, in accordance with rules for federal employees. Wolf has also written course material for CropLife members for no charge. Finley confronted Wolf at the environmental committee ’s meeting last week. “It’s just clearly a conflict of interest,” she said Tuesday. “I don’t have vendettas against people but we have gone down this slippery slope.”
Finley has repeatedly lobbied the city for a pesticide ban and to reduce the number of chemicals it dumps into the river. Tuesday afternoon, Wolf said he was considering legal action. “I feel personally undermined,” he said. “I find the allegations are mean-spirited and inaccurate. “I am not pro-pesticide by any stretch.” Wolf works with the city on composting initiatives and, on his own time, co-ordinates a community organic garden in City Park. “Her accusation is simply inappropriate,” he said. “Every person who serves in any capacity has views. You can’t deny that of anyone. The question is do we force our views on others or do we allow a democraticprocess to determine policy?” Wolf said his association with pesticide manufacturers has no influence on his position on a civic ban. City council briefly considered a pesticide education campaign earlier this year, but referred it, along with a question from Coun. Owen Fortosky about phasing out pesticides over two years, for more study by a sub-committee. The issue ended up back with the environmental committee last week, which repeated its preference for an education campaign and sided against the two-year phase-out. Fortosky said he wasn’t previously aware of Wolf’s connections with CropLife “Off the top of my head, I think (Finley) may have a good point,” he said. “You want things to be as forthright as possible and everything to have no possibility of conflict, whether it’s real or an appearance of it.” Wolf’s situation doesn’t fit the city’s definition of a conflict of interest because he sits on an advisory committee, said city clerk Janice Mann. The city only asks the mayor and councillors to disclose properties and companies in which they have financial interests because they ’re the decision-makers, she said.
5. (2004) MY LETTER TO CITY OFFICIALS
TO: Saskatoon Mayor Atchison and Councillors Terry Alm, Donna Birkmaier, Bev Dubois, Owen Fortosky, Myles Heidt, Elaine Hnatyshyn, Maurice Neault, Tiffany Paulsen, Glen Penner, Gordon Wyant and City Staff
COPY TO: Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC)
SUBJECT: Conflict-of-interest, Letter from lawyer, Vapo-rooter, Phased-in Pesticide Bylaw
I have provided background information about the chemical industry to the City in the booklet “VAPO-ROOTER, CHEMICAL PESTICIDES AND THE DYNAMICS OF CHANGE” under headings such as:
• CHEMICAL/PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY, A HISTORY OF LIES AND CORRUPTION
• CHEMICAL/PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY IN GOVERNMENT, UNIVERSITIES AND CITIZEN ORGANIZATIONS
• COMMON TACTICS USED BY THE INDUSTRY. …
Sound decision-making requires …
• the abandonment of naivete: you must know how the chemical/pharmaceutical industry works. They are very slick at placing people in influential positions (reference “All the President’s Monsanto Men” in the Vapo-rooter booklet).
• clear understanding of priorities: there are no “stakeholders” when the health of human beings and the environment are at high risk. In this instance, those who legislate have only one interest to represent, that of the common good. Private and self-interest are secondary when the air, water and soil upon which we are all dependent become the pawns. …
I was criticized for raising the issue of Tom Wolf, an employee of Health Canada (PMRA) simultaneously taking large amounts of money from the industry his Department is supposed to regulate. My response:
From the Star Phoenix article it appears that the reporter interviewed Tom. My reading is that the information in the article is from Tom himself – the $10,000.00 from CropLife for one of his projects, he’s been doing projects for CropLife for 8 years, etc..
I have read an issue of the CropLife publication “Groundswell”. One Article is related to Tom’s work on chemical spray nozzles. The question asked of Tom at the SEAC meeting was “Are you the same Tom Wolf as in the CropLife publications?”. Tom supplied the information related to the question.
Again, he is the source. And again, I am left with the question: which statements I have made are inaccurate?
Do I treat Tom unfairly? The system, the Government, Tom’s supervisors, people, should not allow Tom to simultaneously work for the Regulatory function of Govt and the international lobby organization for the chemical and biotech industry – CropLife.
If I do not speak up, who will?
I know that what Tom is doing is not right. And I know that the PMRA is Not performing its regulatory function. Many children, their families, the educational system, and the medical system live LIFE LONG with the consequences of our failure to stop conflicts-of-interest such as this.
If someone in another City discovered a similar conflict and did not do What they can to stop it, I would severely criticize that person. If I am well-informed, complain loudly about an issue, and then do nothing when the ball happens to fall in my court, what am I?
6. (2004) MY STATEMENT
There is no joy or satisfaction in bringing distress to another person. It takes time, a hot bath, and the company and distraction of friends to let go of the tension after sending out the conflict-of-interest emails re Tom Wolf.
“The system” is indeed messed up. As with all dynamic systems:
• The longer you fail to take the right corrective action, the deeper the system goes into decay.
• The greater the deterioration, the more drastic and difficult the measures that are required to bring the system back to stability.
• There comes a point after which the deterioration cannot be reversed.
For whatever quirks of fate, I happened to be the one who was present when Tom’s behaviour was incongruent. I noticed the incongruency when others didn’t, because of the work I have done on roundup resistant wheat, etc. – I happen to know the environment that has been created by the Government and the chemical/GMO industry – the “Public Private Partnerships” embraced by the Privy Council Office (PCO).
I believe that we are slowly but surely turning things around. The hard battles (being uncomfortable with what seems to be an attack on a person) have to be fought, as well as the easy ones. I, and others, would not have to be doing this, if the Government was doing its job and if it wasn’t so riddled with corruption.