Canada is witnessing a similar heavy-handed control over government scientists as the United States saw under the George W. Bush administration and its censorship of climate research and other environmental sciences. This conflict between government agenda and the free flow of knowledge science will have (and quite probably is having) a significant influence as to whether the Keystone XL pipeline is approved or not. It is quite probable the US State Department’s recent, appraisal report on the pipeline utilized the findings of potentially skewed science from Canada’s Harper administration.
How the Tar Sands Are Crushing Science in Canada
The Canadian government is currently under investigation for its efforts to obstruct the right of the media and public to speak to government scientists. These policies are widely believed to be a part of the government’s unspoken campaign to ensure that oil keeps flowing from the Athabasca tar sands — even if it’s at the cost of free scientific inquiry, the environment, and by consequence, democracy itself.
Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault officially launched the investigation into the alleged ‘muzzling’ of Canadian scientists earlier this week. Calls for the inquiry came in the form of a recent 128-page report chronicling “systemic efforts” to obstruct public access to researchers — a request that originated from the non-profit group Democracy Watch. The agencies to be investigated include departments of the environment, fisheries and oceans, natural resources, and the National Research Council of Canada.
1) steering scientific research in desired directions by primarily funding non-threatening areas of research (like genetics and stem cell research), 2) implementing obstruction tactics to prevent the dissemination of scientific research that could undermine the oil industry, and 3) shutting down (or under-funding) any institution or organization that could likewise pose a threat.
This all started back in 2008 when the Tories implemented a policy in which federal scientists were told to direct all media inquiries to national headquarters and not respond to requests to talk about their work. As a consequence, many Canadians, and especially the media, are not hearing about the latest findings, including those published in prestigious journals. Canadian scientists are starting to slip on the world stage.