And here I thought it was just me…

I’m pleased to say that I’ve received my first comment from another public servant. The names have been changed for anonymity. Thank you “Larry” for your contribution.

Comment: Hi there. Great work. Not all scientists can write in a style accessible to the general public. Jeff Hutchings has put out some good editorials on this topic, one recently in the Toronto Star. This muzzling of scientists business is bad news. It takes forever to get research published as it is…you have to compete for funding, apply for permits, do the study (often with several field seasons), analyze data, write it up, submit to a journal, wait for the review, do the revisions, resubmit, and so on. And now add another very uncertain timeline of an internal government “review”? Without needing to exaggerate, this added step will add many more months if not years – with the risk that approval may be denied at the end. Who in their right mind will want to collaborate with a DFO researcher now? I suppose that’s the point…

Another form of government muzzling that is taking place is the mass demotions of regulatory staff across the country. Basically making it so very few people will be at a level of authority to speak at public forums or make regulatory decisions, particularly on big development proposals like mines or pipelines. 

Anyway, I was sent your blog from a buddy in academia. Everyone involved with science is disturbed by the state of things – as they should be.

Keep on fighting the good fight.

Thanks. Larry
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3 thoughts on “And here I thought it was just me…

  1. Relatedly – I’m in academia now, faculty at a university abroad. A little over a year ago I applied for a research position with NRCAN, and went through the whole process, interviews, all that stuff. Things looked good for a return to Canada (still a goal of mine), but then it turns out that the funding for that position was pulled and the position winked out of existence before it could be filled.

    I thought this was a sad story until I learned more about the state of affairs for government scientists in Canada. I’m now glad I didn’t get the job. Why would I want to work somewhere where any of my results that actually mean something significant get buried, and at best I have to let a PR flack tell my story for me? I don’t do science for the sake of having a job, I do it so I can make meaningful discoveries and share them with the world.

    I’m cynical enough to think this might be part of the Harper regime’s plan, but even if it isn’t it still means that Canada’s not going to have the best and brightest working for its people. For all the usual talk of “knowledge-based economy” and “focus on innovation” and other government buzzwords, they seem to have forgotten the fact that science is done by real live people – people with ideas, and people with options. If the Harper government just wants mindless drones, that’s what it’ll get, and the quality of work will reflect that.

  2. I agree completely. Keep up the good fight.

    Anything we can do to continue to shine light on the foolishness of this muzzling and get these conservatives out of power as quickly as possible is a step in the right direction. Your blog is a part of this.

  3. [Unmuzsci]: I’ve got my second comment now from a fellow public servant- too short to be it’s own entry, but I’ve included it as a comment here.

    Name: Maureen
    Comment: Dear unmuzzled scientist,
    I was watching a very interesting interview today between Peter Mansbridge and Christ Hatfield today when my companion, who by the way is a journalist for Radio-Canada, remarked ‘he is an excellent communicator’. Indeed he is, few people would doubt that now after the amazing pictures, interviews, etc. that have been so popular in the news and social media. But I had to ask myself, why is it that our government doesn’t see the clear value of communicating science to the public? Thanks for your article. I look forward to reading others.
    As a public servant, I ask that if you choose to publish my letter you withhold my name and email address.

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