Canadian Government muzzling federal scientists
The Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age.
Natural Resources Canada scientists were told this spring they need “pre-approval” from Minister Christian Paradis’ office to speak with national and international journalists. Their “media lines” also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation.
The documents say the “new” rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply to not only to contentious issues including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago.
They also give a glimpse of how Canadians are being cut off from scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers, critics say, and is often of significant public interest — be it about fish stocks, genetically modified crops or mercury pollution in the Athabasca River.
“It’s Orwellian,” says Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at University of Victoria. The public, he says, has a right to know what federal scientists are discovering and learning.
Scientists at NRCan, many of them world experts, study everything from seabeds to melting glaciers. They have long been able to discuss their research, until the rules changed this spring.
“We have new media interview procedures that require pre-approval of certain types of interview requests by the minister’s office,” wrote Judy Samoil, NRCan’s western regional communications manager, in a March 24 email to colleagues.
The policy applies to “high-profile” issues such as “climate change, oilsands” and when “the reporter is with an international or national media organization (such as the CBC or the Canwest paper chain),” she wrote.
The Harper government is highly influenced by AGW science denialists and this is not the only instance of Harper and his financiers trying to control information flow about science.
Recommend reading the whole article.
Here in the US when Administrations (usually Republican - yes, it’s true) have tried similar things we, as Americans enthralled with our First Amendment, have pushed back. However in Canada there isn’t that tradition, at least as intense as here in the US, to demand unfettered free speech.