Melissa Mancini, over at the Huffington Post, has documented Stephen Harper's war on science. Consider the record:
- Environment Canada put out 71 news releases in 2012, compared with 110 in 2005, a decrease of more than 35 per cent.
- The Department of Fisheries and Oceans put out 128 news releases in 2012, compared with 243 in 2005, a decrease of 47 per cent
- The National Research Council put out 14 news releases in 2012, versus 33 in 2005, a decrease of 58 per cent
- Natural Resources Canada put out 154 news releases in 2012, compared with 176 in 2005, a decrease of 13 per cent
Then there are the cases of government scientists who have been ordered not to say anything about their research to Canadian -- or any other -- media outlets:
- Environment Canada scientist David Tarasick was prevented from talking to media about a research project he had worked on that had discovered the largest hole ever found in the ozone layer in 2011. When responding to a reporter who asked for an interview, Tarasick replied, “I’m available when Media Relations says I’m available.”
- Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist Kristi Miller was forbidden from talking about a virus affecting salmon in B.C. Her research on the topic was published in the prestigious science journal Nature, but interview requests about the research were denied. When she testified about her findings in August 2011 at the Cohen Commission – a review of a decline in Fraser River salmon populations – she said she believed it would have been useful to talk to the media when her findings were published.
- Ottawa has been accused of trying to get international status removed from Dr. Frederick Kibenge’s salmon health laboratory at University of Prince Edward Island after it revealed infectious salmon anemia in B.C., something that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency denies exists on the West Coast.
- Last year when federal scientists attended a polar ice conference in Montreal, they were assigned media minders before they could be interviewed by reporters.
Why? According to Calvin Sandborn, a professor at the University of Victoria:
“Government doesn’t want scientists talking to the public about science and about facts,” he said, “and everything is controlled to ensure that a certain political point of view is carried forward.”
The truth will set you free. And that worries the Harper government. That's why they have put Canadian scientists in chains.