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The Unofficial Trial of Alexandra Morton

The crash of 19 stocks of Fraser River sockeye over a 15 year period forced the Canadian government to close all fishing from 2007 to 2009. The Canadian government, desperate for answers, or at least looking for a way to deflect criticism, struck an inquiry led by justice Bruce Cohen that would last over a year. The decline was quick and dramatic. It looked like Fraser river sockeye populations were going extinct.

It was also Morton who brought public pressure on the government to take the matter seriously.  Years of letter writing campaigns and public protests and speeches made her a leader for many. Thousands stood on the lawn of the Provincial legislature with her on May 8, 2010, to voice their concerns about what fish farms were doing to wild salmon populations.

By the time of the Inquiry, both government and industry had teamed up against Morton to discredit her and her work.  She was not allowed to give evidence as an independent biologist, but could speak only as someone on what was called the “perspectives” panel. Lawyers for both industry and government attacked her credentials and did not want her research work to stand as evidence.