Monday, October 21, 2013

Governance, Harper-Style, a "Potential Threat to all Canadians."

Just as quickly as he could after ascending to power on the promise of transparency and accountability, 'Sideshow Steve' Harper moved to sequester the public service and sever lines of communication between the public service and the Canadian people, including their media.

The media grumbled a bit but, in keeping with their new role as corporate media, government lapdogs, quickly settled down into the regime of relaying press releases.  And so peace returned to the land.

Or, maybe not.  A survey of federal government scientists garnered the predictable yet troubling responses.

.     50 per cent of respondents said they were aware of “cases where the health and safety of Canadians" (or environmental sustainability) has been compromised because of political interference with their scientific work.
  • 48 per cent said they were aware of cases where their department or agency “has suppressed or declined to release information, and where this led to incomplete, inaccurate or misleading impressions.”
  • 74 per cent of respondents thought the sharing of government science findings with the Canadian public has become too restricted.

  • Peter Bleyer, head of policy and communication for PIPSC, said this is the first time anyone has collected “quantifiable evidence” about political interference in the communication of federal science to the public.

    It’s a potential threat to all Canadians,” he said. “We need to fix it.” 

    Gary Corbett, president and CEO of the union, said in many cases, scientists aren't prevented directly from speaking out but feel a "broader chill."

    “You don’t have to walk into their office and say ‘no,’” he said. “They say to themselves, ‘We live in a climate of fear.’”

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