What’s playing out in Canada is playing out in the U.S. as well: With federal funding comes federal control, and those who accept federal funding may not say anything that challenges the financial interests that control the government.
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 (NRC) scientists were told this spring they need “pre-approval” from Minister Christian Paradis’ office to speak with journalists. Their “media lines” also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation.
The documents say the “new” rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply to not only to contentious issues including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago.
They also give a glimpse of how Canadians are being cut off from scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers, critics say, and is often of significant public interest — be it about fish stocks, genetically modified crops or mercury pollution in the Athabasca River.
“It’s Orwellian,” says Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of Victoria. The public, he says, has a right to know what federal scientists are discovering and learning.
Read more at the Vancouver Sun.