Friday, September 17, 2010

Another example of the Canadian government "muzzling" scientists

From the Montreal Gazette:

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's office to speak with national and international journalists. Their "media lines" also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained through access-to-information legislation.

The documents say the "new" rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply not only to contentious issues including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago.

I'm always surprised by Canadian or American government efforts to limit or control public statements by scientists. Forget the logic of the communication policy itself. It goes without saying that controlling public appearances by scientists is bad policy in a democratic society. But it is even worse politics. Tales of muzzling always make it into the media. It's futile to attempt to hide such a policy in a world of Twitter, WikiLeaks and Youtube. And the eventual tale of "muzzling scientists" always makes the government look bad in the end. So why bother? Political masochism if you ask me.

No comments: