Hard questions: Why *has* DFO threatened to sue?

by Dianne Murray, Dam-Reservoir Working Group, August 6, 1997.

Call it a case for the return of thefisheries research board, and the dissolution of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans... As recent readers of Canad's Ottawa Citizen will know -click here to search the Citizen-will know, there is a storm brewing over the long-standing muzzling of Candian federal aquatic scientists by bureaucrats. Scientists who wish to remain anonymous have given me to understand this problem of muzzling is hardly confined to a few Canadian bureaucrts - similar problems appear to be the case in the United States and what was Russia. Most likely this is simply the tip of some bigger iceberg.

Canada's Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans [DFO] has come under heavy criticism for getting in the way of the free flow of scientific advice to the government. As a result of this scrutiny - which took the form of a week long expose by journalist Charles Enman - many ex-government scientists [such as David Schindler and Ransom Myers, both holders of Killam Chairs at Canadian universities] have come forward to back up the claims of Hutchings et al and their editor [see below].

DFO bureaucrats are now threatening to sue the Citizen for covering this - initially a story about a recent journal article dealing with this problem in detail. Hutchings et. al. in Volume 54, the newest volume of the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science. In that volume there is also an incriminating editorial by the outgoing editor of Can.J.Fish.Aqua.Sci. - Dave Cook.

The reason I mention this here is that in Hutchings et al evidence about supression of results, intimidation of scientists and other forms of information control and slanting are presented in detail concerning the Nechako River diversion studies in British Columbia. This has also been covered in some detail by John Goddard in Harrowsmith. [see bibliographic section of this site].

Certainly in the case of trying to get public speakers for events which I and my collegues at DRWG have organized there have been persistant denials of permission to speak - a situation Reid Cooper and I publically brought to light in a letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail some years ago.

The DFO bureaucrats want a public apology and retraction in the paper by week's end. Methinks they does protest too much. What exactly are they trying to hide by this attempt to cow scientists from speaking on how they were muzzled?

Stay tuned -> I will be updating this with references to the Citizen and Canadian Press wire articles in question as soon as possible. =cdm, July 3rd, 1997.


36+ Canadian scientists [some ex-pats] have signed a manifesto calling for an end to the supression of information by DFO. -cdm, August 6th, 1997.