A Canadian adjudicator has upheld the punishment of a Health Canada scientist who spoke out publicly against a ban on Brazilian beef, thus triggering an international trade dispute.

Advocates support Dr Margaret Haydon, a veterinary drug evaluator, said the ruling would discourage other employees from speaking out on matters of public interest. “Steve Hindle, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, was quoted as saying, “The message that is there is that public service employees shouldn’t be talking to the media. We think that is inappropriate.”

However, Joseph Potter, the Public Service Staff Relations Board adjudicator, was cited as saying Dr Haydon lost any right to take her criticism of the government to the media when she failed to first discuss her complaints internally. Nevertheless, he did reduce the ten-day suspension imposed on Dr Haydon to five days, perhaps influenced by learning that a reporter had sought her out, and not the other way round.