It seems like the silence over the disappearing Environment Canada committee discussed in my previous post
may have had its precedent set back in 2012, when another strange silence was orchestrated over another disappearance.
Margaret Munro, in The Ottawa Citizen, reports
new evidence of the Harper regime suppressing information Canadians have a right to by muzzling our federal scientists. In 2012, the amount of Arctic ice hit its lowest level ever, and Canadian Ice Service scientists wanted to tell us about it, to warn us of its implications.
[Leah] Braithwaite and her colleagues — aware of the national and international interest in the shrinking polar ice — wanted to hold a “strictly factual” technical briefing for the media to inform Canadians how the ice had disappeared from not only the Northwest Passage but many normally ice-choked parts of the Arctic.Having to go through nine
approval levels before they could impart the information doomed the effort. Newly-released documents reveal the following:
“Ministerial services” — the sixth layer — cancelled the briefing, the documents say. And the ice service scientists ended up watching as the Canadian media and public got most of their information from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC ), where scientists were quick to give interviews, hold briefings and issue press releases as the ice shattered records as it melted from Baffin Island to the Beaufort Sea.Observers say the case is further evidence of the way the Conservative government is silencing scientists.
“It’s suppression through bureaucracy,” said Katie Gibbs, executive director of Evidence for Democracy (E4D ), an Ottawa-based non-profit pushing for open communication of government science.
“Why is it that we need nine levels of approval for this sort of thing, what’s the justification,” said biologist Scott Findlay, a co-founder of E4D and member of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa.
He said the government’s “Byzantine message control” is not only wasting time, money and resources, but having a “corrosive” effect on the public service.Perhaps naively, Findley also suggested that
federal scientists are professionals and the government should trust them to interact with the media and release information that is in the public interest, such as conditions and changes in the Arctic ice.The development of trust requires a degree of integrity and good mental health on the part of both parties, qualities that, sadly, we have come to discover, Mr. Harper and his minions are deeply deficient in.