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Canadian Government Muzzling Scientists

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the implausibly-impolite dept.

Censorship 352

IllogicalStudent writes with this excerpt from The Vancouver Sun: "The Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age. Natural Resources Canada scientists were told this spring they need 'pre-approval' from Minister Christian Paradis' office to speak with journalists. Their 'media lines' also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation. The documents say the 'new' rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply not only to contentious issues, including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago. They also give a glimpse of how Canadians are being cut off from scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers, critics say, and is often of significant public interest — be it about fish stocks, genetically modified crops or mercury pollution in the Athabasca River."

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352 comments

My gosh (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564120)

that's like muzzling 1.25 American scientists, eh?

Re:My gosh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564932)

No, the muzzles are required to keep the tops of their floppy heads from falling off.

Eh? (0)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564162)

This reads to me as "Government scientists managed by Government"

There are plenty of scientists who don't work for the Feds that aren't "muzzled".

Re:Eh? (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564266)

What I read it as is that you will never hear anything from a government scientist that doesn't support the government agenda. It means that government scientists cannot realistically be treated as unbiased sources, the same way you wouldn't trust a tobacco funded study on the effects of cigarets. Would you really trust a government funded scientist's on the possible ecological damage caused by harvesting the oil sands if the current government's agenda had that as item number one? Most people would question that relationship anyway, but this new requirement makes it all but official; if you take government grant money, you will only publish results that agree with the government's stances.

Re:Eh? (2, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564410)

What's missing for me here is the government's claimed reason for doing this. National security?

Re:Eh? (3, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564502)

They commissioned a scientist to research it, but the government didn't like the results so they didn't approve the scientist's application to publish.

Re:Eh? (2, Informative)

Cockatrice_hunter (1777856) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564640)

I think that there is a misconception here. The Canadian government didn't suppress the publishing of the results, rather they prevented the scientists from contacting the media. Also, in response to the statement that only government supported claims would be published, even were that true a paper has to go through various hoops in order to get published. This includes peer review to make sure that the science is legitimate. There will always be other scientists who disagree and they are welcome to publish rebuttals.

Re:Eh? (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564720)

The Canadian government didn't suppress the publishing of the results, rather they prevented the scientists from contacting the media.

You know, that seems a reasonable position from where I'm standing. I might not like it, but I cannot fault the government for wanting to control the media spin. It's not like the reporters are actually going to report the science without a bunch of spin of their own.

Re:Eh? (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564942)

Or perhaps the suppression of data that supports a contrarian opinion or action.

The facts are, what they are. Peer review is vital. Yet trusting politicians to use information neutrally is suspect.

Re:Eh? (2)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564618)

The reason is basically that the current government is allergic to anything that puts them "off message." It's pure politics.

Re:Eh? (2, Insightful)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564486)

But you made my point for me in your post...

What I read it as is that you will never hear anything from a government scientist that doesn't support the government agenda

if the current government's agenda had that as item number one

*CURRENT* being the key word. "The Government" has no agenda. It is a group of people intended to lay down and enforce some common rules; not a dictator. If you can't convince your countrymen that the government is going the wrong direction, and get them to vote it a different way, maybe you are the one in the wrong.

The fundamental problem with this philosophy is that 50% of voters are dumber than average (median).

Re:Eh? (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564704)

That's great, so whoever is in charge at the moment gets to decide which results get published. Why, they should fund a study to see which political party's policy will be best for the economy. That way everyone in the country will know for sure which party they should vote for... as long as it happens to be the one in charge, otherwise no one will ever see the results.

How are you supposed to convince others that the people in charge are wrong when the people in charge decide what information is available? You need access to information that shows them to be wrong, something that this law appears on the face to be designed to prevent. We've always been at war with Eastasia, and here's a historian that will corroborate that statement if you don't believe me.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564714)

But you made my point for me in your post...

What I read it as is that you will never hear anything from a government scientist that doesn't support the government agenda

if the current government's agenda had that as item number one

*CURRENT* being the key word. "The Government" has no agenda. It is a group of people intended to lay down and enforce some common rules; not a dictator. If you can't convince your countrymen that the government is going the wrong direction, and get them to vote it a different way, maybe you are the one in the wrong.

The fundamental problem with this philosophy is that 50% of voters are dumber than average (median).

And also, don't forget that the average is low to begin with.

Re:Eh? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564750)

All governments share two common agendas, one is to maintain the power of its rule. This is particularly evident in all of the "qualifiers" to what should be basic rights. You have freedom of speech (so long as you don't offend us), freedom from torture (unless you are a "terrorist"), the right to know what you are charged for (unless you are a "terrorist"), etc.

The second agenda is to maintain the basic structure of the political environment. It is not advantageous for the democrats/republicans in the US to introduce an amendment that would bring proportional representation or otherwise disrupt their power balance. Neither side really wants reforms in tax structure, debate over currency, etc.

If the two major parties can distract the masses with issues that don't really matter they can share the power for the future.

If you can't convince your countrymen that the government is going the wrong direction, and get them to vote it a different way, maybe you are the one in the wrong.

Good luck getting most people to even vote, let alone go beyond their general apathy.

And that reasoning is laughable, the main point of freedom in a democracy is limited government first, that is the real pillar of freedom, democracy is second. Democracy without limited government is nothing more than mob justice. Your reasoning falls apart when you try to use it in a case. For example, is lynching justified? After all, everyone agrees with it!

A free government depends on limited government more than it depends on democracy .

Re:Eh? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564854)

Good luck getting most people to even vote, let alone go beyond their general apathy.

And doubly good luck getting most people to spend more that 25 seconds listening to only the most facile recap of current issues before making up their minds on how they'll vote. I've long thought that the voter form should include a randomized series of questions testing knowledge of current events, political affairs, basic economics - all at a really basic level. The people who get less than half correct have their vote counted as once. The people who do better get their vote counted maybe two or three times.

Of course there is no way this will ever come to pass since it violates your second agenda above. Pretty much the last thing any political party wants is an informed, engaged electorate that can't be swayed with idiotic soundbites.

Re:Eh? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564488)

>>>What I read it as is that you will never hear anything from a government scientist that doesn't support the government agenda.

So it's just like the BBC, PBS, or CBC.
(ducking and running) ;-)

Re:Eh? (3, Interesting)

FlyingOrca (747207) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564736)

Er, no. The publication process hasn't been muzzled as far as I know (and I'd probably know, see my comment further down). But this does point to some interesting challenges for the current generation of scientists.

Take a guy like Dave Schindler [wikipedia.org] - when he ran ELA for the feds, he published and publicised ground-breaking work on nutrient loading and acid rain (to cite a couple of examples) that resulted in improved regulation. Today he's not employed by the feds, so he can and does tackle the oil sands issue, but those scientists who are employed by the feds are the ones who are told to vet their public comments.

Re:Eh? (5, Insightful)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564318)

The concept is that these scientists work for the Canadian people, not for the zealot of the day.

"The time for study is over, it is time for action" - John Baird, then Minister of Environment, before gutting the climate scientists budgets.

Re:Eh? (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564408)

Any scientist who doesn't work for the government works for industry. They're even more controlled in what they can say.

No scientist should have to check with the government before talking to the media. The only duty of a scientist is to advance knowledge. To promote truth. If you trust them to do that, you should have no problem with them talking to the media. If you can't trust them to do that, then why are you giving them grants?

Re:Eh? (3, Insightful)

quietwalker (969769) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564532)

It may be different in Canada, but in the US, the professors in the field of education tend to be some of the greatest contributors to the various scientific fields. They generally don't work for the government or the industry.

Re:Eh? (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564658)

Research professors get salaries that generally come directly from federal grants. They work for the government.

Re:Eh? (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564798)

This rule appears to apply only to scientists who directly work for a government agency as employees, though, not to professors who are funded by federal grant money, or even professors who teach at public universities.

Re:Eh? (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564892)

In both the US and Canada most university research faculty are funded through federal research grants. These grants are competitive and administered by various research councils that are, in theory at least, apolitical. The real political influence comes in determining how much money these research councils get, not in how they distribute it.

sound like more mass covering laws that (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564180)

sound like more mass covering laws that do good but have lots of dumb / real old stuff that just fails under them.

Sound like copyright with lot's old abandonware failing under it as well.

Re:sound like more mass covering laws that (4, Informative)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564280)

How do they do "good"?

When Government starts restricting information it means they are hiding something.

My only guess is that some of the Canadian Federal scientists have discovered things about climate and the oil sands that the Canadian Government is terrified of releasing. It's obviously a conspiracy among the Canadian big shots.

The Canadian people should demand all of their resignations and get a new PM in there pronto before what's ever going on the we don't know about happens and destroys Canada and possibly the World!

can they use this to by pass can EPA type office (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564388)

can they use this to by pass candian's EPA type office.

So you can fast build stuff with out needing to wait for ever for EPA type stuff.

Re:sound like more mass covering laws that (5, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564434)

The core of the problem is that the conservative party currently in government is insanely partisan. Their entire MO is about "message management," with actual governing coming in a distant second or third. So of course they are going to try to muzzle scientists, and the actual research they are muzzling doesn't even need to make sense - it's done more as a Pavlovian reflex without taking the time to analyze whether the information is even sensitive or not.

The hypocrisy of it all is astounding considering this same party campaigned on the promise of "transparency and accountability" during the 2006 election.

Re:sound like more mass covering laws that (2, Insightful)

BergZ (1680594) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564936)

The Harper government must still be stinging from the contents of the RCMP Long-Gun Registry report that they tried to suppress.

Seems reasonable (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564236)

Canadians voted for Harper and he is simply giving them what they asked for. Everybody knows scientists just take money from the government by ginning up fear and give us nothing tangible in return. It's time somebody stood up to them.

Re:Seems reasonable (5, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564490)

Yup, that's basically the conservative talking point: scientists are just a bunch of academic elitists, and we don't need facts or research to tell us what Canadians - deep down inside - really know to be true.

Re:Seems reasonable (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564574)

yeah, I should have put it in quotes. Not really my view.

Green Party of Canada (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564242)

Green Party of Canada [greenparty.ca]

Re:Green Party of Canada (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564636)

Green Party of Canada [greenparty.ca]

Or how about Liberal Party of Canada [liberal.ca] ?

Seriously. The people behind the sponsorship scandal are gone, and they at least have a chance at winning.

How does that saying go? Something like "a vote for Green is a vote for the Conservatives"?

Let's get the Cons out, then worry about keeping the Libs in line. It shouldn't be hard to do after they saw how quickly and decisively we kicked their asses over AdScam.

Re:Green Party of Canada (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564670)

As an American, trust me you do not want a two party system. You get only corporatists.

Re:Green Party of Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564778)

it wont change anything,
we only elect corporatists anyway

Re:Green Party of Canada (2, Interesting)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564876)

Alas, while the conservatives did a 'Unite the right' and gained votes from the old conservative party and the reform party, the left has become increasingly fragmented. The Liberals, the NDP, the Green party. Even the Pirate party has a Canadian segment now. So if you lean conservative you have little choice. If you lean liberal you have so many choices. Thus the current stead of Canadian parliament.

That's what I love about Conservatives (4, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564262)

They criticize the Chinese about freedom of the press and then do everything they can to prevent truth escaping into the wild in Canada. Unfortunately by trying to hide the truth they highlight that this is good area to look for whatever they are trying to hide. Which highlights another Conservative trait, they aren't very bright.

they may not be bright (4, Insightful)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564422)

but they make up for it in viciousness.

"Slower traffic keep right" - Canadian road sign or political joke?

Re:they may not be bright (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564582)

What about a Libertarian Canadian? Where do they fit? Right or left? Or maybe up?

Re:they may not be bright (2, Insightful)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564822)

I think they fit in kindergarten. Most move on once they can read.

"I was a teenage anarchist; But the politics were too convenient" - Against Me!

Re:they may not be bright (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564868)

They're corporate anarchists like every other libertarian. No amount of government is ever small enough. Especially when it's reduced to military and police, the usual "reasonable libertarian" utopia, where the rest of the government that can keep those forces from being nothing but private armies/security is missing.

Re:That's what I love about Conservatives (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564460)

How is this different than scientists themselves driving out dissenting views? Would you say scientists who scornfully denounce other scientists putting forth contrary views are as dim as Canada's Conservative party?

Re:That's what I love about Conservatives (2, Interesting)

Genwil (943858) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564516)

It isn't the same at all if the scientists are heaping scorn on things because the methods, conclusions, etc., aren't supported by the evidence.

Re:That's what I love about Conservatives (3, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564924)

Scientists very rarely drive out dissenting views. Science is based on the idea that if a theory is any good, the bulk of it will survive being stress-tested and the bits that do fail needed replacing anyway. When practiced in this fashion, the good views will get stronger. Maybe a mistaken belief is accepted for a while (such as the aether), but eventually the more correct theory will become strong enough that it will supplant all others. Eliminate the weakest links and replace them with links as strong as the remainder.

True, sometimes you do get fanaticism. The Anti-Global Warming scientists (none of whom are climatologists or environmental chemists) demonstrate fanaticism over and above the tried-and-tested method outlined above. They do not test their own beliefs to the breaking point, nor are they concerned with establishing whether global warming is indeed the stronger theory or not. Such people drive themselves out. Science is not the people, nor is it the end result, science is the method. The method is all that matters, nothing else. If you renounce that method, you have stepped from science to religion, regardless of what you say, because that is how these terms are defined.

Re:That's what I love about Conservatives (5, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564534)

They criticize the Chinese about freedom of the press and then do everything they can to prevent truth escaping into the wild in Canada.

Forget that, they ran on a platform of transparency. Hell, one of their primary talking points was that the Liberals were corrupt and secretive. And then we see this bullshit. Gotta love the hypocrisy...

Re:That's what I love about Conservatives (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564762)

It's so transparent the policy is now invisible. How much more do you want from them?

That would be politics as usual (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564774)

Same shit here in the US. Bush ran a very secretive government, and pulled the "We don't have to justify it to you," card to the other two branches often. Obama promised to change that... And really hasn't. The states secrets thing is getting pulled out, few changes are being made, etc.

Politicians don't like it when their opponents have secrets, but they love it when they do.

Re:That's what I love about Conservatives (4, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564904)

Forget that, they ran on a platform of transparency.

I'm advising a friend who is running for office (city council in a smallish town) and she's been hit with a lot of questions about what her platform is, whereas she's really a pragamatic problem solver with a great record of listening to people and using the best factual information available to fix stuff.

I told her to reply to questions about her platform by saying, "Platforms are what politicians say before they're elected, and we know how that works out. The Harper government ran on a platform of greater transparency. So I'm not going to make you any grand promises, except to say that I'll listen to the voices of my constituents and do my best to find practical, affordable, sustainable solutions to their problems."

The number one issue in the district where she's running--based on talking to the people there door-to-door--is quality of roads and sidewalks, which are not mentioned in anyone's platform.

The whole media circus of political platforms is old and tired and will hopefully be dead soon. We've all seen how it ends far too often. Time to stop listening to politicians lies and start asking them, "Why should we think you're going to respresent us rather than your party after we vote for you?"

Re:That's what I love about Conservatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564544)

Which highlights another Conservative trait, they aren't very bright.

So at least you've got something in common.

no surprise (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564312)

I spent much of my youth - including 2 different highschools - in Canada and it has to be one of the most government controlled propaganda using places ever - honestly you would think that they single handedly won WW2, that the bush pilot is a significant figure in world history and *everything* was invented in Canada.

Re:no surprise (0, Troll)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564594)

How old are you? Because in my observation the real propaganda efforts only really started in the last few years. The other stuff you're talking about is commonly known as "national pride" or perhaps "jingoism," and if you're an American then it's pretty ironic if you're blasting another country for an excess of jingoism.

Re:no surprise (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564652)

It's that famous inferiority complex I've witnessed while vacationing there (visited every province except Nunavut). They are very, very nice people but feel the need to prove why they are not just a clone of their neighbor to the south, and how Canada created a ton of inventions and other firsts. Personally I think they should just dissolv the Confederation and join as states 51 through 62(?).

Except for Quebec. Give it to France. Or the EU.

Re:no surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564954)

Tabarnack oui, donnez nous à l'union européenne

Re:no surprise (4, Insightful)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564666)

It's not propaganda. Canadian schools simply have a strong focus on Canadian content, especially because most Canadians are bombarded with American culture/news/history on a daily basis. If we didn't give a shit about the things we've done ourselves as a country, we may as well just roll over and officially become the 51st state.

Re:no surprise (5, Interesting)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564712)

Having lived and gone to school in both the US and Canada, I have to call complete BS on this. I've also worked for the Canadian government in and around historical monuments and sites and it is nothing like what your trying to declare. Canada always declares that "the Allies" not "Canada" helped win WW2, that the Bush plane (not pilot...) [wikipedia.org] while is a well known plane is not the be all end all of anything in history, nor do they declare "everything" was invented in Canada. While in the US though, I found that things like the Vietnam war are altered and edited (my history text books enter listing of that war was "The US entered Vietnam, fought the rebels, then the war protests happened, and then in the 80s..." completely removing any mentioning of the end of the Vietnam war, the removal of troops, the fact that the US lost that war (the teachers aren't to mention this)). The US also always wants to declare that WW2 only started after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, and not in 1939 (since the US was supplying both sides with weapons and supplies) and that the US single handedly ended the war. That they are the center of the world, ect...

Peek a Boo (1)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564334)

"laugh if you want to - and say you don't care"

"if you cannot see it - you think it's not there"

"It doesn't work that way"

Oh dad, we're ALL Devo.

Shame (2, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564348)

I have never in my life been ashamed to be Canadian. Until today. Thanks Stephen, you stupid ass!

Re:Shame (4, Informative)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564454)

I was ashamed too when Harper was elected to become the next PM. He keeps doing the same BS that George Bush did a few years ago [ipsnews.net] so much and so often he is known as Mini-Bush for a reason.

Mini-Bushes (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564832)

I think John Howard in Australia might have beaten him to that title by a fair number of years. There's crackpot dictators and theocrats in all but name all over the place.

Re:Shame (2, Informative)

dpolak (711584) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564456)

God forbid he ever gets a majority government!

It's unfortunate, there isn't a single party worth voting for. We're fucked with whatever one we do get. Liberal, NDP, Conservative, then there is the Bloc who's only point of existence is to destroy Canada. How they ever became a national party is beyond me!

Time to move!!

Age of Enlightenment? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564360)

Remember when all the scientists were in consensus w/the politicians that the Earth was flat.
We are heading into that age of society again. And of course, there will be another age of enlightenment after if history proves true.

Re:Age of Enlightenment? (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564632)

This is a myth. Humans have known the earth to be round since at least the Greeks. Anyone who has ever been on a ship would have noticed the horizon and land seemingly disappearing over it.

The objections to Columbus was that he was bad at math and could not possibly get all the way to India with his supplies that way. He just got lucky that he ran into the Americas, otherwise he probably would have starved after running out of supplies.

The Name (2, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564374)

In Christian Paradis's Canada, science is under the inquisition? Irony and whatnot...

Re:The Name (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564782)

Nobody expects the Canadian Inquisition! Our chief weapon is Tim Horton's, Tim Horton's and hockey. Our two chief weapons are Tim Horton's, hockey, and a whole lot of boreal forest ... I'll come in again.

Permission to speak, or what to say ? (2, Interesting)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564394)

Is this control of them being able to speak to the media, or control of what they say once they can speak ? I suppose that it is probably moot since a scientist who says something that differs from what the govt wants them to say will never get permission to speak again.

When, years ago, the soviets did this they were, rightly, lambasted.

Re:Permission to speak, or what to say ? (3, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564476)

If you only let the scientists who agree with you say what they want to say, it's the same thing.

Heh... (5, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564440)

Why don't I have the feeling there's about to be a flood of, "That's it, I'm moving to the U.S.!"

Re:Heh... (4, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564510)

It's true, but the government scientists with the data aren't allowed to tell you it's true.

Re:Heh... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564646)

Why don't I have the feeling there's about to be a flood of, "That's it, I'm moving to the U.S.!"

Because the Canadian Government report on the matter says Canada is the better place to live.

Re:Heh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564732)

That's it I'm moving to the U.S.!

better a muzzle than a shot of cyanide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564492)

like we do it here? imagine the vocation of trying to prevent the truth from being known. must be whoreabull.

Harper, Harper... (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564506)

Man, i really love you, believe me....... But why you dont love us? the poor tax-payers? The ones that are paying your salary???

All is Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564514)

All is well citizens, we have never been at war with Global Warming. Or our Great American neighbors to the south. Work hard, go to see Justin Beiber concerts. Ignore the insane dictator in front of the curtains addressing you through the tv. Justin Beiber.

Re:All is Well (1)

mmmmbeer (107215) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564608)

So, because you happen to agree with what your current government says about one issue, you're fine with them silencing anyone who disagrees? Well, I hope you don't get what you deserve.

No surprise (4, Insightful)

dskoll (99328) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564542)

This is the same government that has destroyed the accuracy of the Census [theglobeandmail.com] under the smokescreen of "privacy rights." (We all know why the Conservatives don't like accurate census data; it makes it harder to spend money based on ideology rather than on real need.)

The Canadian government has always been notoriously non-transparent; even the Liberals have muzzled a scientist [wikipedia.org] in the past.

Re:No surprise (2, Interesting)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564800)

The whole census fiasco was an custom-engineered crisis. Who knows what the hell Harper was trying to accomplish with it, but he likely succeeded. As a bonus for him, it's in the public mind now, so it's a can of worms that can't easily be closed. Even if a new government comes in and tries to undo it, the right wing rabble will still foul the census in protest.

Re:No surprise (3, Insightful)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564914)

I'm going to call BS on this one. The story is pretty straight forward -- ~200,000 citizens did not fill out the long form of the census during the last approach. According to the current laws, this was punishable by substantial fines and mandatory imprisonment. The census bureau *never* pursue these fines or penalties. On the basis that a) the law was never enforced, and b) a strong libertarian minority within their supporters were railing against oppressive government, they removed the law.

While all the complaints around the accuracy of the data, the importance of the census, are valid.... this is still about simplifying the reach and authority of government -- something the slashdot community normally endorses. Had this been about liberalisation of pot laws, or eliminating government enforcement of copyright, etc... we've be hailing them as heros.

Sounds pretty standard to me. (1, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564592)

Natural Resources Canada (NRC) scientists were told this spring they need "pre-approval" from Minister Christian Paradis' office to speak with journalists.

Lots of places have policies about who can talk to the press, and who can't. This seems pretty standard to me.

Re:Sounds pretty standard to me. (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564634)

There are lot of places where people kill people.....Is this still pretty standard to you????

Re:Sounds pretty standard to me. (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564960)

Preapproval by the chief executive is obviously a policy to politicize science.

Literally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564602)

Muzzling doesn't seem like it would be overly effective. Homo sapiens with their short snouts and all...

Canadian scientists fighting this for years (5, Interesting)

FlyingOrca (747207) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564638)

My parents are retired scientists of world-class standing, previously employed by the Canadian federal government, with extensive networks of colleagues around the world as well as here in Canada. The current government's efforts to muzzle and control what scientists say is widely viewed as completely unacceptable by the scientists themselves, but the highest levels of the departments which employ them have long been taken over by bureacrats.

I would not be concerned with bias toward government goals on the part of the scientists, though. The government's attempts to vet and spin their public communications speaks quite eloquently to the scientists' integrity... and to this government's perfidy.

Re:Canadian scientists fighting this for years (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564968)

May I advise you and your parents to re-read Fred Hoyle's book "The Molecule Men"? You will find it most enlightening, given your current situation.

If you happen to be a government scientist (1)

Are You Kidding (1734126) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564688)

and you expect to be censored, make sure there are plenty of draft copies floating around your agency, and send one to Wikileaks for review.

Harper doesnt think Earth is older than 6000 yrs (1)

mpetch (692893) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564728)

Of course Mr. Harper needs to do this. We all know his party has to tow the line when it comes to the age of the planet. Floods 13,000 years ago could not have happened because God hadn't created the Earth.

Climate change cover-up (2, Insightful)

OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564744)

It's obviously a cover-up of climate change data, ordered by lobbyists for the planet-raping carbon industry. Those other restricted topics are only there to make the climate change cover-up a bit less flagrant.

Free Speech (2, Insightful)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564858)

Harper, in his attempts to create a "Fox News" in Canada blasts those opposed to it using "Free Speech" arguments.

Harper is a hypocritical creep who has NO interest in the good of the people. He is interested in dumbing them down, propagandizing at them and limiting knowledge.

Propaganda is not an attempt to communicate. Rather, it regards people not as people but as little machines which can be programmed using the right strings of words and images calculated to illicit desired behavior. The moment somebody intends to manipulate, the act of communication has ended and the act of programming has begun. Freedom of speech laws were designed with the idea in mind that people fundamentally respected the humanness of their peers. They didn't have to respect one another's opinions, but the underlying assumption is that we are appealing to the soul and intelligence on a personal level and not a cynical machine-programming level. Put another way, humans must treat each other as humans and not as lab rats.

Propaganda doesn't respect fundamental humanity and therefore should not be brought under the protection of freedom of speech. Same with advertising.

-FL

Welcome to the future. (5, Insightful)

JMZero (449047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564934)

This isn't just Canada by any stretch - it's everywhere. And scientists are just the newest people being affected.

The problem is media. Not left-wing media, not right-wing media, but scandal happy media. From my perspective (in Canada), media have lost all desire to fill people in on what's happening, all they want is a scandal - something they can sell right now. They want to catch a politician (or a scientist) making a mistake or saying anything that a significant number of people will disagree with. And it's been getting worse for decades.

Now, sure, it makes sense that - to a certain extent - the media needs to maintain a bit of an adversarial role toward government. Media is an important check on the power of government. But that needs to be balanced by a desire to be informative rather than sensational and a desire to inform people with both sides of an issue.

How it is now, we've reached the point that, to be safe, politicians just don't say anything of any interest - and the only information we'll get will be vacuous and committee-written. Nobody wins in this situation.

To me, politicians and media share the blame on this one. Politicians need to be open, but media needs to ease off the trigger a bit so that being open isn't quite so suicidal. The best summary I've seen of this is here [youtube.com] (David Mitchell).

When I first saw the headline... (2, Interesting)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564958)

...I thought they were actually muzzling the scientists. But like the feedbag type. You know, like horses.

I was thinking, DAMN, you're working them to death! They're only human, for the love of god!!!

Frankly, it would have been a much less frustrating story. And I wonder what they're going to do when they realize that the vast majority of stuff they will get will be on stuff like the peculiarities of the reproduction of a certain type of fungus, or some standard survey of fluctuations in the luminosity of a group of stars that the suits won't understand even if it's spelled out to them Dick and Jane style. They don't know what they're getting into. In fact, expect a jump in mundane research that makes no sense to the public as pissed off scientists decide to give the government what for.
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