It was the right move for the chairman of New Brunswick’s Energy Institute to quit after conceding that he misrepresented his academic credentials, says a Memorial University biology professor.
“I certainly think Mr. LaPierre has done the correct thing,” said Ian Jones.
In a letter to the provincial government, Louis LaPierre said he takes full responsibility for his actions and apologizes for the embarrassment it has caused people who placed their trust in him.
In various biographies, LaPierre falsely claimed he had a doctorate from the University of Maine.
Jones was involved in the study on the effects of low-level flying by NATO jets in Labrador on harlequin ducks in 2002, that was funded by the Institute for Environmental Monitoring and Research (IEMR), chaired by LaPierre.
Wildlife biologist Ian Goudie was working on his PhD on that study at MUN and reacted last week to news LaPierre’s credentials were under scrutiny. Goudie said LaPierre put him through a difficult time when the IEMR threatened to yank funding from the project.
Goudie and his colleagues went public and the funding was restored, but they later said the institute tried to twist their findings.
The Telegram attempted to contact the IEMR’s office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for comment on LaPierre, but messages were not returned as of deadline.
Goudie said Thursday by email that anyone whose credentials aren’t as stated should resign from pivotal positions or be removed by their peers.
“I think the public needs to consider what else was compromised in these array of important environmental processes that were largely controlled by this individual,” Goudie said.
“It’s a tragedy for him personally and generally environmental assessments in Atlantic Canada this has happened,” Jones said, adding it’s obvious that misrepresentation on a resume will bring trouble.
He has characterized LaPierre as a powerful figure in environmental assessments in the region and said his involvement was so extensive, and so many projects have proceeded, it might be hard to go back and re-evaluate them.
“It seems me to me politicians when picking ‘scientists’ to lead environmental assessments should look at the credentials of those people,” Jones said.
LaPierre was hired as chairman of the New Brunswick Energy Institute following his study for the provincial government on the prospects of a shale gas industry.
He has also resigned from a variety of academic positions he held at the University of Moncton.
In an open letter to the Moncton Times and Transcript newspaper, the university on its website stated it had, without its knowledge, false information on academic titles of the retired teacher.
President Raymond Théberge said he was relieved LaPierre "personally admitted” to deliberately misleading the university on his academic history.
Théberge also said he recognizes the importance of LaPierre’s community involvement throughout his career and his contribution to environmental issues.
N.B. Energy Minister Craig Leonard said the work done by LaPierre in establishing the energy institute has been important to the province.
“In a very short time, the institute has brought world renowned experts together to research and study the most pressing energy issues facing our province and represents a scientific model that has already received recognition from the National Academy of Sciences in the United States for its innovative approach,” he said in a statement.
CBC Moncton has also reported LaPierre has stepped down from a federal environmental review panel proposed for an open pit mine for north of the town of Marathon, Ont.
A report by Radio-Canada last week first raised questions about LaPierre’s academic history. According to the report, for years LaPierre’s biography claimed he holds a PhD in ecology from the University of Maine.
But that was not the case, the University of Maine also confirmed to The Telegram last week.
And Walden Minnesota in Minnesota confirmed it awarded LaPierre a PhD in the 1980s, but not in science. Rather, it was an education degree.