The prime directive of any good journalist should be the people's right to know. But consider the saga of Peter Kent. Lawrence Martin writes that Kent, a member of The Canadian Broadcasters Hall of Fame, has been in the forefront of those who make sure Canadian scientists don't talk to journalists:
The latest example of such muzzling concerns David Tarasick a researcher in Kent's ministry who is the co-author of a study on the ozone whole over the Arctic. Tarasick had offered to discuss his findings with the press:
It’s the type of story that Kent once pursued avidly for the CBC. But Kent’s office, as revealed by emails recently obtained by Postmedia, brought out the big muzzle and clamped it on Tarasick’s jaw.
When the issue first arose early in the year, Kent denied issuing any gag order. “We are not muzzling scientists,” he told the House of Commons. It was just, he said, a case where circumstances did not allow Tarasick to give interviews.
The emails contradict this version of events. They reveal officials in Kent’s department thought it would be fine to go ahead with the interviews. But Kent and the Prime Minister’s Office wanted their own propaganda spin on the ozone report — and so they silenced the scientist.
A man who used to enthusiastically chase stories on global warming bowed to the Prime Minister's Office and refused to let journalists know about the latest Canadian research on the environment. After all, the citizens of this country paid for that research. More than that, a functioning democracy needs information:
You’d think that, if one Conservative minister had the courage to stand up and say, “Wait a minute prime minister, this is not the way a democracy works, this is not the way freedom of speech works,” it would be Peter Kent. You’d think he’d be asking the question: “What are we afraid of? What is wrong with airing different views on the subject? If we disagree with Tarasick, we can say so.”
Kent was uniquely placed to do precisely that. But he didn't. Such is the price of power.
This entry is cross posted at Eradicating Ecocide.