A couple of months ago, a case made the news here in Ottawa and it had lots of salacious details to peak people’s interests. A mint employee. Gold. Smuggling. And vaseline to tell you where and how he smuggled it. Earlier this week, he was found guilty, and it is an incredibly interesting case for a totally different reason — it is entirely comprised of overwhelming circumstantial evidence. On that basis alone, I would expect it to be appealed.
The basics of the case are pretty straightforward:
A bank employee noticed a man depositing a couple of large cheques from the gold-buying store nearby. $7K apiece. Not exactly chump change. When she noticed on the account that he was an employee of the Mint, she flagged it for her boss and they flagged it for RCMP.
RCMP investigated, watched him sell some more at the gold store and deposit the cheques, and then contacted the store to see what it was he was selling.
Most people who know me might think that since I have a pretty strong view about what limitations on freedom of speech look like and don’t look like for government workers, and that I even blog about stuff related to government, I would likely tilt against the current windmill of supposed Government censorship or muzzling of “scientists”. The argument is aptly captured in the press:
Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault has agreed to investigate how government communications rules on taxpayer-funded science impact public access to information. Legault is responding to a detailed complaint lodged by the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria and the ethics advocacy group Democracy Watch.
Their lengthy report — “Muzzling Civil Servants: A Threat to Democracy?” — laid out repeated examples of taxpayer-funded science being suppressed or limited to pre-packaged media lines across six different government departments and agencies.
The complaint alleges that by keeping government scientists from speaking out about their work, the public is denied the chance to request records — because no one is ever made aware they exist in the first place .