Thursday, May 02, 2013

Scientists In Chains

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.


Alison said...

Remember 7 years ago when then EnviroMin Rona Ambrose shut down the book launch of a science fiction novel written by an Environment Canada scientist in his spare time? Remember how singularly ludicrous that act of pettiness seemed at the time?

Owen Gray said...

At the time, it seemed that Ambrose was completely off the wall, Alison.

It turns out that, like all the Harper caucus, she was merely following orders -- and there was a lot more insanity to come.

Lorne said...

While the scientists are chained, Owen, the Harper regime is also enslaved - to an ideology that serves no one's interests except a select few. I'm not sure which is more pathetic.

Owen Gray said...

The term Orwellian comes to mind, Lorne.

Freedom is Slavery.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

It is all just too depressing to rant about. I am so tired of anti-intellectual politics with no vision or hope for the future.

Owen Gray said...

And they keep telling us they're the smartest guys in the room, Philip.

Fightfordemocracy said...

Did any of you see the Salmon Confidential video at It's about the two biologists, Alexandra Morton and Kristi Miller and their efforts to find out why there are 10 million missing wild salmon who never returned from the sea to spawn in BC rivers. They are not allowed to get samples from fish farms, so they have to chase a wild eagle with a farmed salmon in its claws to get their single sample directly from a fish farm. Then they decide just to test salmon from supermarkets. This video is fascinating and better than a press conference. I won't be eating BC salmon until they have healthy stocks again though. Everyone should watch this video - it really makes vivid why we need good science and free scientists.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the tip, Fighting.

All of this information simply confirms that the Harperites are a collection of Sergeant Shultzes -- the character out of that old sitcom, Hogan's Heroes.

They see nothing -- nothing at all.