Geologist Fired/Re-Hired After Refusing to Peddle Propaganda

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A Canadian scientist fired for lampooning an order to call Stephen Harper's Tory government "Canada's new government'' is back on the job.

Geologist Andrew Okulitch said Tuesday he was reinstated as a scientist emeritus with the Geological Survey of Canada after a call from the deputy minister of natural resources.

The 64-year-old Saltspring Island resident, who has worked for the federal government for 35 years, said he was fired Sept. 5 after he e-mailed an undiplomatic response to a government directive.

The government memo ordered him to use the phrase "new government of Canada'' on official correspondence from the Geological Survey of Canada.

Okulitch immediately fired off an e-mail saying civil servants are not paid to mouth political slogans.

He said the policy was "ridiculous and embarrassing'' and said he will use Geological Survey of Canada in any official correspondence "as opposed to idiotic buzzwords coined by political hacks.''

Minutes later he received an equally blunt e-mail from the Natural Resources Ministry saying Okulitch's misdirected views reflect the decision to immediately remove him from his position.

"He overreacted and I was less than diplomatic in my original e-mail and after that things just went from bad to worse,'' Okulitch said in an interview Tuesday.

"All based on a directive which should never have come down our way anyway.''

Okulitch, who is currently conducting research on a geological atlas project, said he and deputy minister Kathy Doyle agreed both sides acted hastily.

He said they decided to let bygones be bygones Tuesday and he was permitted to go back to work.

"They are basically apologizing by reinstating me,'' he said.

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