Canada's government muzzles scientists, stonewalls press queries about health, environment and climate

The Canadian Harper government's policy of not allowing government researchers to speak without approval and without being attended by political minders is in the news again. A series of speakers at an AAAS meeting told the international science community that climate, environmental and health research that calls government policy into question is routinely suppressed. Prof Andrew Weaver of U Victoria said, "The only information [the press] are given is that which the government wants, which will then allow a supporting of a particular agenda."

The allegation of "muzzling" came up at a session of the AAAS meeting to discuss the impact of a media protocol introduced by the Conservative government shortly after it was elected in 2008.

The protocol requires that all interview requests for scientists employed by the government must first be cleared by officials. A decision as to whether to allow the interview can take several days, which can prevent government scientists commenting on breaking news stories.

Sources say that requests are often refused and when interviews are granted, government media relations officials can and do ask for written questions to be submitted in advance and elect to sit in on the interview...

The Postmedia News journalist obtained documents relating to interview requests using Canada's equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act. She said the documents show interview requests move up what she describes as an "increasingly thick layer of media managers, media strategists, deputy ministers, then go up to the Privy Council Office, which decides 'yes' or 'no'".

Canadian government is 'muzzling its scientists (Thanks, DaveGroff!)

(Image: Frankenstein's Monster, gagged, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from kazvorpal's photostream)


  1. Harper isn’t the only one doing this kind of thing.

    It’s now known that ash and boreal forests are shrinking on the prairie provinces, most likely due to drought. These results have been published in multiple reputable journals.

    The Government of Saskatchewan recently decided to “blaze a trail” by setting up The Saskatchewan Environmental code, which focuses a whole lot on reforestation to compensate for the trees cut down by the lumber industry. That’s swell, but if you look through the Code’s preliminary documents and all half-dozen related Acts, there is not a single mention of drought-related forest issues.

    I wrote them an email to point out that mention of drought was suspiciously absent, but they didn’t reply. This is in spite of the fact that it was days before a public consultation on the Code, which I learned of in a large ad in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. At least CBC covered the story, which was quite shocking considering Harper’s stranglehold on them.

    Of course, I’m not saying that the Government of Saskatchewan is being “evil” by suppressing these results. Rather, their behaviour very well could be explained away as a combination of total idiocy and disgusting lack of scientific knowledge. I think I’ll be nice and assume that they’re not “evil”, just moronic.

    Anyway, Gerry Ritz didn’t bother responding either. So now, I’m going to write to the various First Nations grand councils. They, on the other hand, are not total morons.

  2. P.S. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal if shrinking forests equals erosion equals dustbowl equals grain shortage equals food distribution issues for Canada, parts of the US, and many developing countries that rely on Canada for food. I couldn’t give a rat’s derriere if this is climate change related. Just plant the trees already, you goons.

  3. P.P.S. We’re not talking a tree or two here. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of tons of carbon. It’s not really something to be screwing the pooch on. It really does go to show that Brad Wall’s billion dollar fancy pants technology-based carbon capture efforts look idiotic and wasteful. Talk about lunatics patting themselves on the back and laughing hysterically while bailing out the Titanic using tea cups. LULZ.

  4.  Cripes… don’t play along with the whole ‘call it The Harper Government’ bumf they insist on… they’re Conservatives, and they’re *all* responsible for this kinda crap.

  5. Colbert once said that ‘reality has a well known left-wing bias’.  Harper and his gang will block or suppress anything that will interfere with the profits of the energy companies that pay their way (and, likely, will provide their lucrative board postings etc. when they leave politics).

      1. Is it wrong that that picture makes me a little warm?

        If ball-gagging the undead is wrong, I don’t wanna be right…wait, what were we talking about?

  6. Yet another reason to create our own monster in Canada: a coalition of the orange, red,and green parties! Might even get some real progressive  policies implemented such a proportional voting.

    1. That would be if the Liberals had done anything actually progressive in the last 20 years they had in power, anyway.

  7. No surprise here. Harper & his pack of yes-men lapdogs have long been known to be anti-science. It conflicts with his born-again, overly simplistic, black/white, “you’re either with us or you’re a child-molesting baby eater” world view; and being the control freak that he is, he can’t allow that.

    1. Well, for a lot of the time the Libs were last in power the Tories were split into two parties (Conservative and Crazy/Reform).

      I’m not knocking Chretien and his bunch (much), but they started their term with massive cuts to all sorts of key programs (abandoning their funding of affordable housing being front and center in their short term pain for long term more pain strategy).  They then spend 12 or so years avoiding anything controversial until they were in a minority government and had no choice but to throw the plebs a few bones (which didn’t work as it was too late).

      I’d take a Lib/NDP/Green and even BQ coalition over the Cons anyday, but the Libs will have to take a few more drubbings before they would ever consider such a thing, being the so-called ‘natural governing party’.

      1. “…the Tories were split into two parties (Conservative and Crazy/Reform).”

        Remember when they were toying with the idea of calling it the Canadian Reform-Alliance Party – the C.R.A.P.? They shoulda stuck to that one; that’s what we’ve been stuck with!

        I can *almost* feel a little sorry for Peter Mackay – shamefully selling out his once-honourable party like he did – until I remember what a spineless, shifty, opportunistic weasel he really is. Then – Rrr!

  8. This is very, very, bad news. How can you have informed debate, a necessary component of good policy making, when people the expertise to help inform the general discussion aren’t even in the conversation!

    1. You can’t (have an informed debate).  That’s the whole point of deliberately one-sided, smash-grab-run politics.  It’s short-sighted, it’s self-centered, it screws almost everyone and that’s just fine with the people doing it because they and their buddies benefit and if you aren’t them or their buddies then screw you for being such a lazy hippie.

  9. We used to point to communist governments because they censored for propaganda reasons.  They were the “bad guys” and we were the “good guys”.
    Now OUR government censors for propaganda reasons.  

  10. This is more a knock on the press than on the government.   You can expect the government to do what it thinks is in its own best interests, even if it isn’t.    Why doesn’t the press try to do a little leg work and find the story instead of relying on big Gov to spoon-feed it?

  11. Cory, there is no Government of Canada anymore, it was taken out by the U.S. Military in the war it publicly declared on Canada (via the CBC) in the 2005/06 assaults.  

    What is called “The Harper Government” is a judged and convicted fraud of unprecedented proportions, and that is why the war criminals are not even trying to pretend they are doing anything good or legal, for they are making war on Canada in return for U.S. Military support breeching election security to make Harper -appear- elected by the covert terror assault and verified murders of innocent Canadians, in America’s continuing non-repentance of it’s international aggressions in the covert war of terror on Canada and our other allies.

    These facts are verified by The Crown in Canada’s Strategic Defense Initiative of 2005, and enforcement of national defense in America’s continuing unprovoked war of covert aggressions against Canada, is forthcoming, and imminent.

    When you witness blatantly offensive “Bills of War” being rammed through the embattled house by a proven fraudulent and false majority, who are convicted of war crimes with America, do not be concerned about the devastating harm that is being done, which would increase, before the threat to international security is removed for good, and all things are made new.

  12. What the fuck has happened to so-called ‘conservatives’ over the last 30 years?

    They used to just be a recalcitrant malignance, but now they’re a ravening scourge of unadulterated fucking evil.

    I used to think Alex Jones was a bit of a nut…

    1. Thank you for that thought; I have been wondering the same thing. I used to believe in reaching out to every perspective and practicing compromise everywhere, but the ‘conservative’ ideology has become absolute poison – everything it touches dies bit by bit. I am torn because it seems wrong to judge an entire party or political belief, but this one is so blatantly causing harm to society and impeding our very ability to reason and compromise that it demands attention and judgement.

    2. The reason for the phenomena you describe is because there is an international war that George H. Bush started, where they make deals with Conservatives in other countries to make them the leaders of them by covert war upon Liberals and the other parties of them, covertly terrorizing and murdering their political opposition via covert U.S. Military assault in the war to compromise all democratic sovereignties on the earth.

      The reasons for the evil is because the things America is judged for doing are so evil that those who are guilty will stop at nothing to attempt to wipe out any resistance to their war of international covert murder and terrorism to decide the policy of all the former democracies, and to cover up the extent of their crimes, and that America is about to be destroyed in having lost their war, yet they persist, while Obama struggles to clean up the mess, and save America, and has been doing as well as even the finest American could under the lose:lose scenario certain bad people invoked upon America.

      Remember, what is truly happening is not shown on television, and only what they have failed to keep off of it, appears.  The world is in darkness, and all sides are doing their best, behind the scenes as “The War on Terror” comes to it’s forboding and “prophetically correct” climax, and inevitable conclusion, quite apart from having been removed from television in 2007 due to the hemispheric seriousness it reached at Kennebunkport, when America arrived upon the time of it’s judgment by The Coalition in Defense of International Sovereignty.

      These words are Faithful and True.

        1. Dear Ashton, by your comment I discern you view me as a Liberal, and what was verified by The Crown during it’s Inquiry in 2009 as theory, rather than verified fact, in Canada’s Strategic Defense Initiative.  

          I also note that, without evidence to support your conspiracy theory concerning me, your derive what you call your “knowledge”, which is incorrect in the truth.  While I shall not presume you are a Conservative, nor that you are a conspiracy theorist, as an internationally designated judge, I can only make discernments of knowledge based upon that evidence which is verified, and I have verified that you are spreading conspiracy theories  about what you think I do, where I have such easily verifiable facts to share with others concerned about the proceedings unfolding in Canada since America refused to repent of their assault on my file in the continuing international war.

          I suspect you may be one who is partisan, and your comment seems intent to portray me as being such, without regard to the truth or libel laws, in order to cause that others disregard my speaking, by your unprovoked partisan slander. 

          I get that a lot when there are elections going on, so whatever.


  13. Wait is this a law or just a “policy”? Is it actually in the employment contracts of government-funded researchers? Because if not, fuck the policy. And any time you get hassle for releasing the facts, Streisand the bastards.

  14. The purpose of modern governments is to prevent the dissemination of information that might be harmful to large corporations.

    The purpose used to be to build roads, provide for the common defense, etc.  but all that’s either unnecessary or privatized these days.

    You can’t blame government for wanting to keep busy!

  15. This is from a government that has a “Minister of Science” who also happens to be a Creationist.

    He was also a university dropout, who later attended Chiropractic school. He believes the Earth was created 5,000 ago by God, and doesn’t really believe in Evolution.

    What do you really expect.

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