Monday, October 18, 2010

Scientists defy Harper gag rules

Federal scientists go public in face of restrictive media rules

Globe & Mail: The union that represents federal government scientists has created a website -- Public -- to give a voice to the work of its members. The move comes weeks after it was revealed that new restrictive rules have been placed on scientists at the Natural Resources department requiring them to clear a number of hoops, including approval from the minister's director of communications, before they may speak with the press about their work.

While Natural Resources was singled out, reporters and scientists across a wide range of departments are well aware that the government frowns upon direct communication between its employees and the media without prior approval.

The website launched by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, the national union that includes 23,000 who work in scientific research and testing says: 'Public scientists use their skills and expertise to benefit all Canadians. Their job is to work in the public interest as independent experts protecting the health and welfare of Canadians and their communities.'

The union said in a release the recent decision to end the mandatory long-form census is the latest step in a worrying trend away from evidence-based policy making... Cutbacks to research and monitoring limit Canada's ability to deal with serious threats and potential opportunities, the union added... The website... is part of a broader campaign to underline the importance of science for the public good.
Image source here.