Information Commissioner asked to investigate government muzzling of scientists

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The public’s ability to make informed decisions is dependent upon having access to accurate, up-to-date information. This is particularly pertinent for complex issues regarding science and the environment, where citizens rely on the research and findings of scientists to guide their everyday decisions, and hold policy-makers accountable.

When scientists are prevented from discussing their research, important information is missing from public discourse. This is becoming an increasingly serious problem in Canada, as the federal government continues to limit and control if and when government scientists are able to speak with the media.

Today Democracy Watch and the University of Victoria Environmental Law Clinic filed a request with the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada to investigate the government’s policies regarding government scientists speaking to the media. The request also includes a report citing numerous examples of how and when scientists have been prevented from speaking to the media.

CJFE has been concerned with the muzzling of Canadian scientists for some time now, and supports this request for an investigation into the government’s policies and practices in controlling access to the media. We believe that an open discussion of these issues is critical for an informed public.

Related articles on CJFE:

· The sound of silenced scientists, by Bob Carty
· Silenced scientists, by Kathryn O’Hara

Read more:

· Official request filed with the Office of the Information Commissioner
Democracy Watch statement
· Vancouver Sun | ‘Muzzling’ of federal scientists called a threat to democracy
· CBC | The Current (starts at 15:50)