Subject matter experts, spiel thyselves! (“I don’t think this is our role”)

The sockeye salmon stocks collapsed in 2009 in British Columbia, Canada. Canada’s department of Parliamentary Affairs demanded 80 minutes of speeches “on a range of issues related to Pacific Salmon,” according to a piece in the Toronto Globe & Mail. and an apparently panicked Department of Fisheries and Oceans regional communications director Terry Davis sent an SOS to more than a dozen scientists, begging for some speechwriting help:

“In most cases, these types of speeches are developed by program staff [in Ottawa]…. However, in this instance, as the subject matters on Pacific salmon are based here, the Region has been asked to develop the speeches.”

Apparently the Region didn’t have their own speechwriters at the ready. So they asked the scientists to write the speeches.

“We are being requested to draft speeches for the Minister,” complained Canada’s head of fisheries and aquaculture management in an e-mail at the time. “I don’t think this is our role. I can see that we can supply information and also address questions to a speech writer, but not be the lead on drafting a Minister’s speech.”

Speechwriters, presumably, couldn’t agree more.

Not to mention the audiences.

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