Harper Government Muzzling Environment Canada Scientists

A Canwest New Service story just hit the wire reporting that all Environment Canada scientists now must refer all media queries to Ottawa where communications officers will help them respond with “approved lines.”

According to documents obtained by Canwest, this new policy is in place to “ensure there are no “surprises” for Environment Minister John Baird and senior management when they open the newspaper or turn on the television.”

We can only speculate, but this might relate back to a year or so ago, when Prime Minister Harper opened his morning paper to discover the shocking revelation that global warming is a serious problem.

UVIC climate scientist, Andrew Weaver, is quoted as saying:

They've been muzzled. The concept of free speech is non-existent at Environment Canada. They are manufacturing the message of science.” It looks like Stephen Harper's Conservative government has ripped another page out of George W. Bush's war on science play book.

Just 2 days ago, top NASA scientist, Dr. James Hansen revealed a very similar situation in the United States. Hansen claims that not only has he been severely censored by political appointees over the years, but that the White House Office of Management and Budget reviews all scientific testimony to make sure that it’s “consistent with the President’s budget.”

As they say… like father, like son. Or in this case, like President, like Prime Minister.


I doubt very much that Chris Mooney intended The Republican War on Science to be a “how to” guide for the “New” Canadian Government! Mr Baird should take note that even the Bush administration has backed down somewhat from its initial death-grip on government scientists.

Fern Mackenzie

It’s part of the Conservative war on the public service of Canada and part of their sucking up to the Bush administration.

“It’s part of the Conservative war on the public service of Canada and part of their sucking up to the Bush administration.”

Wow. What a deep insight VJ. Did you think up that post all by yourself? Or, as I imagine, do you have a little pamphlet of tired left wing talking points that you rely on for such “insights”?

I think it is time that this blog started identifying posters who post nonsense and remain hidden behind a screen of anonymity. I would prefer to know who Paul S/G is so if I ever met him I could give him smart kick on the backside for being such an arrogant boor.

Ian Forrester

Ian, it sounds to me like you just threatened physical assault.

Now, from my experience, pipsqueeks like you are seldom ever likely to make good on those threats, as more often than not, you are the one likely to get his ass kicked in such a situation, rather than the person you are threatening. In short, you are all mouth.

However, certain relevant facts have come to my attention. I could be wrong, but I believe you are possibly the same Ian Forrester who posts on this web forum:


It is a forum for collectors of double-barrel shotguns.

After registering and looking at your profile, we learn that the Ian Forrester on that gun forum lives in Calgary and claims to be a biochemist.

As I said, I could be wrong on the identification, but for the sake of public safety, I believe the Calgary police might be interested in someone who –

a) makes threats of physical assault,
b) owns firearms

So, you might want to make sure all your paperwork is in order, Ian.

Rob, you’re such a weenie. Go back to your little fake science home and think up more lies.

“… if I ever met him I could give him smart kick on the backside for being such an arrogant boor.”

Alas, no sympathy from Ian.

Others make me be a boor Ian. Their inane postings bring me nearly to tears. How can you read such trite codswollop as:

“It’s part of the Conservative war on the public service of Canada and part of their sucking up to the Bush administration.” - VJ

. . and not even feel a touch of empathy for my situation? I endure reading such hackneyed phrases like that every day! EVERY DAY!!

Though it’s very un-Canadian of you, kick me in the butt in you must, but if there are any sexual overtones in your “smart kick”, you’ll be in big trouble.

Just the other day I was reading in the G&M that the provincial premiers are trying to get moving on AGW mitigation, since the feds don’t seem to be willing to take the lead. Where have I heard this before? It gets very tiring to watch this government recycle (irony intended) all of the bad environmental policies of the US. Embarrassing, too, that Harper’s crowd seems unaware of the pro-active stance on AGW that most of the candidates in the primaries are striking – perhaps not as strongly as we’d like, but certainly better than Bush has done in eight years. People who don’t notice the tide turning tend to get stranded out there by the rising water (in more ways than one!).

Fern Mackenzie

The Baird poodle is currently doing Bush obeisance in Hawaii … not that he’s proud enough of it to let the electorate know.

From the actual news article:

“Under the “guiding principles” of the new policy, it says Environment Canada employees and “subject matter” experts “shall discuss only their own job within their personal areas of experience or expertise” and “shall respect the judicial process with respect to matters before the courts, and federal laws and policies such as the Privacy Act governing disclosure of information to the public.”

They “shall’ not,” the presentation says, “speculate about events, incidents, issues or future policy decisions.”“

This hardly seems anything like “censorship”. In fact, it sounds quite reasonable and prudent. These people are employees of our government, and as such, bound to obey the terms of their employment. If they feel so strongly that their freedoms are being “crushed”, they are free to seek employment more suitable.

So where is the problem here?

Further, I find Grandia’s charge of “censorship” rather farcical, as this champion of free speech has seen fit to repeatedly delete several of my comments, as recently as this week.

Yeah but most of your comments are offensive, filled with personal attacks and are in general rather useless, so I second any motion to delete them if its needed.

my posts aren’t all getting through, as recently as today. Stop portraying yourself as persecuted for your views; my comments were generally supportive of desmogblog.

There is no doubt that the present Conservative government have taken stronger steps to keep their own scientists as quiet as possible. The new public-service-wide steps they have now taken come at about the same time they have eliminated the national science advisory position. We can speculate, probably getting it mostly right, about why they don’t want to hear from those with inconveniently strong links to reality.

However, the strong trend toward censorship started several years ago under a Liberal government, so this censorship is not really new at all, just a bit more extreme than what the Liberals had already put in place. When I was still a research scientist in government, I remember getting a long, rambling message from an Assistant Deputy Minister, ending with the line, “Make no mistake, you work for the Minister”. This is not even technically true (technically, we worked for the Queen, in practice, we work for a Director). Over the next several months, it became clear what this was to mean in practice: that no communication with the outside world was to take place unless messages had first been vetted for inoffensiveness with respect to government policy. Many of us felt that this more or less eliminated our capacity to provide unbiased advice, which was essentially our sworn task. Instead, we were being tacitly asked to provide advice to suppose politically-motivated decisions that had been taken without actually hearing from the scientists. Sure, lots of decisions don’t really need a bunch of science geeks to wade in, but there were a lot that did.

I should add that scientists being muzzled or refused access to normal scientific meetings (or whose papers were not allowed to leave the building) were NOT trying to meddle in policy, just to “keep it real” with respect to phenomena that they were experts on. So, in that respect, what government RES’s are going through is pretty much the same sort of thing that Hansen has publicly been in arms about in the US. Simple factual statements should not be altered or suppressed. The truth should not be viewed as inconvenient from a policy perspective. Instead, reality is the only non-idiotic starting point for any policy choice, to the extent that reality can be clearly discerned.

Anyway, then, this censorship is only taking a previously-existing management trend to a slightly new, even less acceptable level. Personally, I found it very ironic that the Liberal government was actually responsible for starting this trend. It seemed very hypocritical. With the Conservatives, we at least already pretty much knew where they were coming from. -J

You may have to censore my opinion as from what I see Harper is a traitor and he should be delt with accordingly. His backing of Bush just shows he has no respect for this country. Our military should stay in Canada instead of fight for a man that had financial ties with the so called enemy. Their thirst for skulls and blood has only brought up the price of oil and have used this platform to blame the people for the pollutions of the world. Canada has produced enviromently friendly cars for sometime; yet, they are not allowed to be used in Canada. This so called war on terrorist is what is causing all the problems not the people. The Gestopo Setup Tax and Carbon Tax is to finance these murderers and blame it on others. Harper is a traitor to the canadian people that don’t agree with murder as the answer. Harper and Bush if you like war games you play and pay for it yourselves; instead of sending moms, dads, boys and girls to do your dirty work, you evil bags of mostly water.