For immediate release

Privy Council muzzles Canadian scientist

Ottawa, July 28, 2011 – The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada believes that the Privy Council bureaucrats should not “muzzle” Canada’s top federal scientists.

Ms. Kristi Miller was forbidden from discussing her recent salmon-genetics research with the media. As an employee of the federal government, Ms. Miller’s research is funded by Canadian taxpayers and has direct impact on the west coast fishing industry and is relevant to changes in the salmon stocks in the Fraser River in British Columbia. Denying media access to this information under the guise of the Cohen Commission is simply a convenient excuse.

“Government control of information must end and the undermining of Canada's public scientists must stop. Whatever happened to the Harper government’s commitment to transparency?” says Gary Corbett, President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. “This government, by suppressing access to this information, is depriving the Canadian and international scientific communities of significant discoveries. Canadians have a right to the results of research supported by Canadian tax dollars. The findings and benefits of scientific and medical research should be available to all Canadians to enable engaged public policy awareness, debate and development. Canadian scientists must be allowed to publish their research in world renowned journals so that society can advance through their findings and the peer review process”

This reported incident is yet another alarming example of the Harper government’s continued disregard for evidence-based research and it is another case of the government's “command and control” approach. Media and public access to federal scientists has become politicized, resulting in an inability to effectively communicate important scientific news to Canadians through mainstream media.

“Canadians should be concerned about this latest example of the Harper government’s continued affront to public scientists, whose vocation is to investigate and report findings for the Public Good,” says Gary Corbett.

In the past year, media have reported that key federal science based departments and agencies including Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada, have implemented new communications policies that have resulted in an incapacity to communicate sound independent scientific information in a timely fashion. Canadians consistently rely on accurate scientific information to make informed decisions about everyday life, such as the products they buy, the food they eat, the medicines they administer, even their travel plans.

PIPSC is the union representing federal scientists whose work impacts the daily lives of Canadians. Among the 60,000 members are 23,000 professionals who deliver, among other knowledge products, scientific research, testing and advice for sound policy-making.

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For further information: Chantal Lecours
(613) 228-6310 extension 2229
or (613) 864-4368 (cell)

Publish Date: 28-JUL-2011 11:00 AM
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