Canada to probe alleged 'muzzling' of scientists

Apr 02, 2013

Canada's information commissioner on Tuesday launched an investigation into allegations that the federal government is muzzling its scientists, a spokeswoman for the commissioner said.

An academic report from the University of Victoria says the Conservative government has stopped some government researchers from discussing their studies on prehistoric floods, the 2011 Arctic Ozone hole, and snow research.

Spokeswoman Josée Villeneuve said Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is investigating a complaint alleging that policies that restrict government scientists from speaking about their work to the media and public violates the Access to Information Act.

The office of Gary Goodyear, the minister of state for science and technology, said government scientists are readily available to share their research with the media and the public. A statement from the office said Environment Canada participated in more than 1,300 media interviews, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada issued nearly 1,000 scientific publications, and Natural Resources Canada published nearly 500 studies last year.

The complaint was launched by the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria and ethics advocacy group Democracy Watch.

Democracy Watch's Duff Conacher said the issue isn't the number of documents produced and studies undertaken that what is at issue is the percentage of documents being released.

Chris Tollefson, the executive director of the University of Victoria's law center, said their research into suppressed science revealed both the wide scope of the practice and that it "represents a significant departure" in government practice over the last five to seven years.

Tollenfson said the health of the country's democracy is at stake if the public doesn't know what the best science is to make difficult decisions about policy.

Information commissioner spokeswoman Villeneuve said Legault is investigating seven government departments in relation to the complaint: Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Natural Resources, National Defence, the Treasury Board Secretariat, National Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

A report by the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria Democracy Watch says that the Conservative government has stopped some government researchers from discussing their studies on prehistoric floods, the 2011 Arctic Ozone hole, and snow research.

The report, "Muzzling Civil Servants: A Threat to Democracy," cites federal documents that detail how the government has implemented policies that "routinely require political approval before scientists can speak to the media about their scientific findings."

Government scientists are often "instructed to not speak publicly - or to respond with pre-scripted 'approved lines,'" said the report.

Democracy Watch is calling for a number of key government policy changes including severe penalties for not creating records, for not maintaining records properly, and for unjustifiable delays in responses to information requests.

Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch, said the advocacy group will continue to push for what he called democratic changes to Canada's access to information law.

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gstark
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 02, 2013
It's a dramatic example of 'kill the messenger'.

Across the board the Harper Government has hobbled science because of the many ways in which science can prove their decisions are made using criteria other than good science.

A combination of the muzzling discussed here, cuts, and closures has drastically reduced the amount of science-based criticism - as well as the work needed for the formation of the science itself.

From the census to climate change - from the fisheries to the oil sands - departments have been slashed, projects closed, reports buried and so on.

Among other things, this always gives the Harperites room to say 'Well, the studies have not been done', or 'we're waiting for more studies', or the like .

It is a cold cold calculation that is surprisingly effective.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Apr 02, 2013
The politicians in Canada see their opportunity for easy and safe life in devastation of Canadian nature with oil mining. Scientists aren't very impressed with it, yet they're payed from governmental money. An apparent source of conflict is here.
ryggesogn2
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 02, 2013
"stopped some government researchers from discussing their studies on prehistoric floods, the 2011 Arctic Ozone hole, and snow research."

Govts assert they can force people who accept govt money to do things they don't want to do.
This happens all time at universities, k-12 schools, etc.
Maggnus
4 / 5 (4) Apr 02, 2013
The politicians in Canada see their opportunity for easy and safe life in devastation of Canadian nature with oil mining. Scientists aren't very impressed with it, yet they're payed from governmental money. An apparent source of conflict is here.


Zephyr you don't know what you're talking about. Canada is HUGE, and "oil mining" happens in a small area of it, mostly northeren Alberta and to a smaller but growing extent, Saskachewan.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 02, 2013
Zephyr you don't know what you're talking about. Canada is HUGE, and "oil mining" happens in a small area of it, mostly northeren Alberta and to a smaller but growing extent, Saskachewan.
Yeah. Uranium and precious metals and coal strip mining have caused far greater damage.
http://www.infomi...ada.aspx

-Beauty ey?

"Canada's information commissioner on Tuesday launched an investigation into allegations that the federal government is muzzling its scientists"

-Its good to let govts take the blame for this sort of thing, lest people get the idea that there are Greater Forces at work.

NO TECH will be allowed to proliferate before its Time. NO TECH will be allowed to endanger Stability and Progress and the survival of Empire.

Jules Verne made this very clear.
http://en.wikiped...61_film)
DruidDrudge
2.1 / 5 (11) Apr 02, 2013
I am no Harper fan but since when is a national headline muzzled?
Every quack in the world gets to spout off in Canada.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Apr 02, 2013
Zephyr you don't know what you're talking about. Canada is HUGE, and "oil mining" happens in a small area of it, mostly northeren Alberta and to a smaller but growing extent, Saskachewan.
You apparently don't know, why scientists are muzzled in Canada right now. Oil mining is planed at many areas of Canada and it devastates huge areas, which is dangerous, as the nature in cold climate is recovering slowly.
Maggnus
2.7 / 5 (7) Apr 02, 2013
I live here idiot. You don't know what you are talking about.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 02, 2013
Here is a nice trailer for your viewing enjoyment:
http://www.youtub...hBFF5kTw

-The movie stinks I know but the message is clear. No tech before its Time. Imagine if napoleon had had nuclear weapons.

Or if cold fusion had been developed in 1910. The west would have been left with absolutely no influence over events in the middle east. A vast islamic empire with petrol-fueled miltech would have been unstoppable.
Maggnus
2.3 / 5 (9) Apr 02, 2013
Sorry Zephyr that was uncalled for, my appologies.

You still don't know what you are talking about though.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (6) Apr 02, 2013
You still don't know what you are talking about though
My point is, so far the Canada was quite liberal environmentalist country living from tourism, sorta Australia of the northern hemisphere. But at the moment, when scientists are accusing its government from censorship and persecution, then something apparently changed there. My answer is, the oil was, what did actually happen there. The oil attracts the money and the money attracts the conflict of interests. The existing generation of scientists, who just observed their birds in quiet whole years now face the huge pressure of investors corrupted government. This is what happened in Canada - it's not innocent country anymore.
Maggnus
2.8 / 5 (9) Apr 02, 2013
And, again, you have no idea what you are talking about. One day soon I hope that you will understand the difference between thinking you know something, and actually knowing something.

We've had oil here since 1915. You have no idea what you are talking about.
gwrede
3 / 5 (4) Apr 03, 2013
I, for one, used to have this idea of Canada as somehow "pure". Now news of government censorship has seriously tarnished my picture. I am both dismayed and astonished.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Apr 03, 2013
We've had oil here since 1915. You have no idea what you are talking about.
Technically, you have had oil for billions of years, but the mining numbers are rising only recently, because the fivefold increase in oil prices from 1998 to 2007 made Canadian oil sands production profitable.
Maggnus
1 / 5 (1) Apr 03, 2013
And again Zephyr, you have no idea what you are talking about. The oil sands are in a tiny area in Northern Alberta and Northern Saskatchewan. You present it like its right across the country.

Oil production has been occurring in Alberta since 1915. Oilsands were recognized as early as the 50's.

You have no idea what you are talking about!
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2013
I, for one, used to have this idea of Canada as somehow "pure". Now news of government censorship has seriously tarnished my picture. I am both dismayed and astonished.

Why wouldn't a govt look out for its interests?
What makes a govt somehow more pure than any individual?
Every quack in the world gets to spout off in Canada.

Since when?
The govt has put people on trial for speaking experssing their views.
"Free speech, eh? Why is Canada prosecuting Mark Steyn?"
http://www.cbc.ca...ald.html
DruidDrudge
1 / 5 (5) Apr 26, 2013
Censorship is when your voice will not be heard. This does not happen in N.A. Every nut job gets a headline here, even Harper, or Suzuki.
This article is a prime example. How can you say MUZZLED when it is a national headline.
Who exactly is muzzled here.

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