A control issue

A Canadian federal scientist observes, concerning the gag orders on communications from federal government scientists:


“It’s hard to fathom. It seems to be simply a control issue. You could sort of understand the rationale if you were potentially talking about a controversial subject and whoever is in government quite rightly has the right to make sure there are no critical statements about policy. But when you go to the extent of silencing just talking about facts, that just doesn’t make any sense.”

“Silencing just talking about facts”. The problem for the Harper government is that long term conservative supporters, such as me, are starting to think that there is truth in this accusation: that the control is not designed to prevent talking about global warming when it is not happening, or caribou declining in some federal park. These might be controversial. No, the view I get is that the control is for the sake of control. And people are tiring of the thuggish style. The horse will overthrow the rider, if enough of us come to think we are perceived by Team Tory as horses.

Tory voters are not less sensitive to the potential erosion of their rights; they are ready to trade potential claims upon the state for actual security, if they can believe that the government actually has a plan, and can execute that plan.

The tipping point for the Tory voter may come later than for those who are  endemically opposed to a conservative government, but it does come, and it comes when enough of us conclude that the controls serve no useful purpose, and merely suppress scientific discourse for the sake of showing who is boss. Controls of scientists remind us of more of Jean Chretien than it does of the old Reform.

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I agree the arrogance of the Tories could bite them eventually if not careful. They may still have their base on side now, but if they don’t watch it things could get ugly. Although centre-right, I hope we have a minority as that will force the party to smarten up as I worry if they get another majority that will just embolden them and will result in 2019 in a major wipe out which will take over a decade to recover from.

Lorne Russell

The problem with a lot of science these days is it gets mixed up with and to some extent driven by politics. Climate “science” is the obvious example of that. GM Foods. Herbacides and pesticides.

There are a lot of agenda motivated scientists in government and the private sector. In government they cannot be allowed to promote their version of “facts” which have political and public policy implications.

I’d be curious to see what “facts” the Harper government is suppressing.


I thought I heard ctv say there are 15,000 so called scientists working for the government, I am assuming that is the federal government. that is about 14,000 too many. how many of those unionized scientists actually perform anything scientific or are they just job destroyers like the scientists in the U.S. EPA. way too much government folks.


The fact is that federal civil servants have never had the right to voice their opposition to official government policy, so this is not about Tory arrogance. I am old enough to remember some rather senior federal civil servants being fired for speaking out against the metric system when the Liberals imposed it. I also recall some losing their jobs for speaking out against official bilingualism. There have been other cases all of which took place under the Liberals. Like it or not federal civil servants are supposed to be non partisan and to do their jobs as directed by government policy and direction. So why is this suddenly a big issue when it never was before? The answer is because it happened under PM Harper’s watch.

Sandy C.

Alain is right. I am a former academic and know that no scientist can just talk about the facts about what he or she is doing. Even at the university level, you have to co-ordinate communications. In the federal case, they are not academics with all that implies. They are public servants and all messaging is centralized. I mean, research results can impace international trade agreements.

No, this bitching is about Harper and a way to trash him.

Don’t fall for it. I have a post up about this very issue.

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