Harper Silences Federal Scientists

The Harper government has created a deep breach of communication between federal scientists and the Canadian public. Scientists are being asked to exercise a new ‘media relation process’ whereby they are no longer being allowed to openly talk to the media regarding their findings, something they were free to do so before. According to documents obtained by Postmedia News, “Approval from the minister’s director of communications must always be sought [by scientists prior] – no exceptions”.

Really, what kind of democratic country are we living in?

Scientists used to be free to talk to reporters about their findings, but not anymore it seems. Just this past year, a scientist that developed a study on a “colossal flood that swept Canada 13,000 years ago” had to wait one week to get ‘pre-approval’ from the Ministry of Communication.

I think this is absurd. The public has every right to hear what scientists are actively discovering and learning in Canada. The government may appoint federal scientists, but they ultimately work for the people of Canada. In general, the act of limiting experts’ involvement with the Canadian public shows dishonesty and a lack of trust, and could lead to a gap in communication that would only increase in size. Creating a ‘zero-surprise environment’ is simply an excuse to allow the government to keep a watchful eye on Canada’s science sector .

Sure, it’s just news about a 13,000 year old flood today. But tomorrow it could be news that directly affects Canadians’ lifestyle, health, and intellectual well-being. The future of the political and social structures of this country is at stake here.

Silly me, I thought politicians should always be ready for the truth to come out. It is, ultimately, what develops true political character.

And so, the Great Undoing continues. I just hope we don’t become too unwound.

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