By: Krishna K
Access to Canadian federal scientists has significantly declined in recent years. What is the cause for this? The government is muzzling scientists.
Canada’s conservative government restricts the ability of federally employed scientists to communicate with the media and the public freely. Canadian scientists were, in the past, encouraged to share their views and their work with the media and the public, but that has changed since Steven Harper’s government came into play around five years ago. Media policies were introduced, gaining tight control over what scientists can share. Interviews with scientists are being frequently monitored, and the government reviews the interview questions before they are asked in the interviews.
Around fifteen thousand scientists are affected by the rules that the government has set into place, and indirectly, all of us. The Union of Concerned Scientists (An American organization) and the Public Service of Canada have recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Harper. In the letter they stated that Canada should no longer insist that scientists that work for the government should need permission from a media relations officer before they speak to reporters or journalists. Around eight hundred people signed the letter, although Canadian government researchers did not, perhaps in fear of losing their job.
The fact that scientists’ views and work are being watched closely leads to suspicion about the censorship happening in the government. If scientists are being suppressed in interviews, what might be happening to other government-controlled fields?