Why is this Conservative government against free speech for our tax-supported scientists?
Finding cures for deadly diseases, understanding weather patterns, protecting our rivers and lakes, slowing the pace of climate change — it all starts with science.
Long before I was an MP, I was a research scientist. I know that science requires the open exchange of ideas, and science in the service of the people requires scientists to stay in touch with the public.
That’s why I’m troubled by the Harper government’s policy of censoring government scientists. They are not free to speak about their research to the public or to journalists without prior approval from their political masters.
Science journalists are so fed up with this muzzling of scientists that they organized a session on the topic at the February meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held in Vancouver.
In the U.S. — after years of George W. Bush silencing scientists — the government now supports the public’s right to learn about the research that its tax dollars pay for. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently announced that its scientists can talk freely about their research, because it wants people to trust the results.
In Canada, journalists are regularly denied timely access to government scientists. It’s part of a federal government-wide Communications Policy that seeks to control the flow of information. When applied to natural scientists talking about nature, it is a particularly absurd and demeaning policy that damages Canada’s international reputation.
We must restore the public’s confidence that scientific research is not being distorted or ignored to suit political purposes. The way to ensure integrity is to allow scientists to talk about their research.
As the prestigious international science journal Nature stated in an editorial this month, much to our country’s embarrassment: “It is time for the Canadian government to set its scientists free.”
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To read and see more about this topic, please visit my website page, Government Muzzling Scientists