Muzzled Scientists


The following is a letter to the editor, published on Saturday February 6th, 1993, in the Globe & Mail. [unabridged version]. **********************************************************

Research, secrecy, and muzzled scientists

Judging by its frequent appearance in your paper these days, the terms "politically correct" and "PC" seem still to be in vogue for describing people who try to prevent views they find unpalatable from being heard. These terms are more appropriate than I realized: "PC" also stands for "Progressive Conservative."

I am a member of the Coalition to Preserve Hudson and James Bays, a group which tries to educate the public about - among other things - the known effects of hydro-electric dams in the Hudson Bay bioregion. Recently, we organized an information evening on Parliament Hill, open to the public. Unfortunately, all the government scientists we asked to speak were denied permission by their director-generals. Apparently, cabinet has let it be known that it does not want government scientists to perform one of the most important tasks for which they are paid, telling the public of their findings. One scientist, who has been more than happy to speak at our "infromation nights" in the past, told us Environment Canada scientists were no longer allowed even to do "education through the schools." Another scientist thought he might be fired because of a journal article he had in press.

This is not the first time the federal government has muzzled its scientists to stop politically convienient information from reaching the public. For example, in 1991, John Rudd from the Freshwater Institute was prevented from testifying in the New York legislature about the hydro-electric reservoirs producing greenhouse gases. I guess Brian Mulroney and the Progressive Conservatives really are "PC."

Reid Cooper, Ottawa

D. Murray
Last modified: Sat Jul 10 15:52:04 EDT 2004