New report says some Canadian government scientists still being muzzled

By: Sam Garnett

February 21, 2018

The results of a new survey commissioned by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) have been released today in a report titled “Defrosting Public Science”. The survey asked public scientists to report on their ability to communicate freely and openly on their research, without political interference.

Prior to the election of the Liberal government in 2015, the Harper Conservative government had implemented a communications policy that forbade scientists from discussing their research on politically sensitive topics such as climate change, a move widely criticized in the broader scientific community. The new survey shows improvement over that era, where 90% of respondents said they felt they could not discuss their work. Today, 53% of respondents still said they did not feel comfortable discussing their research despite the change in policy from the Liberal government. Some stated this is due to management continuing to operate under the Harper rules, while PIPSC union president Debi Daviau said in the report that some did not even know about the changes the Liberals have made.

Minister of Science Kristy Duncan told the National Observer: “We know that culture change takes time […] But I am making every effort to meet with scientists and to encourage them to discuss their important work with each other and with Canadians. Canadians can be confident that I will continue to work with the research community to ensure openness and transparency, now and in the future.”

You can read more about the Defrosting Public Science results in the National Observer here.