Harper Government’s muzzling of Scientists : The Big Chill

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We’ve likely all heard the terminology, keywords and the hastags floating around the internet. The muzzling of scientists and the continual cutting of their budgets.

I try to keep up with “current affairs” here in Canada, in the US and also internationally. Even though I do I simply can’t keep up with the amount of news out there. I mean, if I’m reading headlines and little “blurbs”, then it’s no big deal… I can keep up with a lot.

But I decided some time ago that I would try and learn about things. So instead of just hearing about some new study or international incident or even history, I will read. I’ll try to inform myself and keep an open mind.
NOTE: Keeping an open mind doesn’t necessarily mean shy away from having an opinion or coming to a conclusion. That would be close to apathy. I’m always open to being wrong. At least, I try to be.

So I read the report which was compiled based on a major survey of Government scientists. First I read the brief “Most Federal Scientists Feel They Can’t Speak Out, Even If Public Health and Safety at Risk Says New Survey“.

I was quite interested in what it had to say as I’d heard about the degradation in “transparency”. This survey was taken by 4069 out of 15398 members of  The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada who were invited to participate.

I would encourage everyone to read this document. The pdf document, linked here “The Big Chill : Silencing Public Interest Science”  is only 8 pages long, has graphic illustrations and lists the survey questions at the end.

In the results, 90% of scientists feel they cannot speak freely. That is a huge number and one that should be concerning to everyone. 50% feel health and safety has been compromised due to political interference. “Seven out of 10 federal scientists (71%) believe Canada’s ability to develop policy, law and programs based on scientific evidence has been compromised by political interference”.

Political interference.

“.. 63% of Environment Canada scientists and 62% of DFO scientists do not feel their departments incorporate the best climate change science into their policies.”

This survey was taken in 2013 and again, I encourage everyone to read it.