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Canada Legault apologizes to agronomist who blew whistle on pesticide study

Quebec Prime Minister François Legault speaks during a conference in the municipality of Laval, Canada, on April 21, 2019.

MARTIN OUELLET-DIOTTE/AFP/Getty Images

Quebec Premier François Legault apologized on Friday to a whistle-blower who was fired after going public with concerns about the pesticide industry’s influence on public research.

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

The Premier’s comments came a day after a report from the Quebec ombudswoman’s office concluded the Agriculture Department had not respected the law on whistle-blowers and had let Mr. Robert down by publicly naming him.

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

The Premier said 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.

Mr. 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 Mr. Robert has confirmed that the agronomist is interested in returning to his position.

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