Behind the scenes look at Canada's Harper government gagging scientists

Dave writes, "A request to interview a government scientist about his discoveries on 'Rock Snot' (algae) results in hundreds of e-mails, discussions of allowed talking points and, in the end, no approval for interview. Why? Perhaps because the source of the rock snot might be climate change?"

Not long before that Bothwell — described by the co-author of the article as “really the Yoda of knowledge about Didymo” — tried to hurry things along.

“I will search my computer for the approved responses from the last interview,” Bothwell wrote to a growing list of media handlers.

That unleashed a frenzy of emails trying to find the aforementioned “approved” responses. It appeared they were not located, and approval had to begin from scratch.

The emails refer to “agreed answers” for the scientist and “approved interview script” throughout.

“Can we prepare answers to these questions please,” Danny Kingsberry, acting manager of media relations, wrote. “I will get necessary approvals and we will schedule the interview after.”

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

The Canadian Press story about Bothwell’s breakthrough on the origins of this pervasive algae appeared on news sites and in newspapers across the country without Max Bothwell, a research scientist at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, B.C.


Request to interview federal scientist sparks 110 pages of government emails
[Canadian Press]

(Thanks, Dave!)

(Image: Rock Snot, USFWS - Pacific Region, CC-BY)