How 'Muzzled' Are Canada's Federal Scientists?
This article is back, and now from CBC -- concern is spreading
Kristi Miller would likely be able to help Canadians who don't have degrees in biology understand her groundbreaking — and complex — research into the Pacific salmon stock, which was published more than a year ago.
But so far, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist, who toils in a lab on Vancouver Island, has only spoken publicly at a formal inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.Media requests to speak to her have not resulted in interviews — and the decision to keep her off-limits to reporters has reached as high as officials in the Privy Council Office in Ottawa.
The federal government says it is not muzzling its scientists, but Miller's name often emerges when the issue arises, as it has more frequently of late both inside and outside Canada's scientific community. For some, there's far more at stake here than a simple opportunity for a biologist or a climatologist to talk about viruses or the ozone layer. "If scientists working within government are not free to discuss their science and the potential implications of it, then what does that say about us as a society?" asks Jeffrey Hutchings, a professor and Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation and Biodiversity at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
For Hutchings, who had his own fight with federal government secrecy over the closure of the Atlantic cod fishery in the 1990s, there's a rather grim answer to his question.It is, as he puts it, that "we have somehow deemed it OK or permissible for an Iron Curtain to be drawn across the communication of science in this country."
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