Out in the Open

'It's like riding a tiger'

Shiv Chopra was axed from his job at Health Canada after speaking out about dangers he saw bovine growth hormone caused in milk. He's been fighting his termination ever since. Shiv talks to Piya about what it takes to ride that particular beast.
Shiv Chopra was an employee of Health Canada for 35 years but was let go for insubordination. Since then, he's become one of the country's best-known whistleblowers.

At age 70, Shiv Chopra was fired from his job at Health Canada for insubordination. At age 83, he's still fighting that decision. "They're waiting for me to die I guess"

We didn't refuse to work. We refused to do illegal things that all of us were being forced to do.- Shiv Chopra

Shiv claims his superiors were pressuring him and his colleagues to pass drugs of "questionable safety".

The drug in Shiv's case was an antibiotic called Baytril.

"[One particular manager] was saying 'approve this drug'...she wanted me to approve it for chickens, and then also for beef and I said 'This will kill people. The World Health Organization says do not do this because this is causing antimicrobial resistance.'" 

Since being fired, Shiv has become one of this country's best known whistleblowers. He's also been fighting his termination ever since. Health Canada's been fighting right back.

As recently as this past fall, the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board upheld Shiv's termination, saying he "broke the bond of trust with the employer." Shiv is appealing that decision, again.

"It's not an easy decision but once you're in it you either run away or you just have to keep going whatever happens... you're riding a tiger, you either get off and run away if you can or you fight."

But Shiv is sanguine.

"What have I lost? I've lost money. I've lost salary. That's about all I have lost. I have kept my honour...I have no regrets...I go by Krishna's last words, 'You have to die fighting.'"