In his latest MP Report, Dan Albas remarks on “allegations” the federal government muzzles federal research scientists, saying scientists at the two federal research facilities in our region have never made similar complaints to him.
I think any scientist would agree that a lack of anecdotal evidence expressed in a limited number of conversations doesn’t mean that no evidence exists.
Across time, numerous government scientists have said they’ve been barred from speaking freely about their research. In one case, scientists at an international polar conference in 2012 were not allowed to speak to the media unless government employees were in attendance to monitor and record what they said.
It’s perhaps understandable why Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz interrupted one scientist and had him swept off stage, again in 2012. George DaPont, president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, had been speaking about an extensive beef recall when Ritz intervened.
It’s harder to imagine why Scott Dallimore, a Natural Resources geologist, needed government approval to talk to journalists in 2010 about his study of a flood in Northern Canada almost 13,000 years ago.
Late last year, more than 800 scientists from 32 countries called on Harper to end “burdensome restrictions on scientific communication and collaboration faced by Canadian government scientists.” Canada’s leadership in basic research, environmental, health and other public science is in jeopardy, they said.
The clamp-down has also meant a loss for the international science community.