Canadian Info Watchdog Probes Harper Govt's Muzzling of Scientists

May 22, 2013

Canada's Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault will be investigating the muzzling of Canadian scientists — that has been a perennial complaint of SEJ's Canadian members who can not freely interview tax-funded scientists about subjects like climate.

Under the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, scientists have been ordered not to talk to reporters without the permission and oversight of a politically appointed press officer. The Harper government, which opposes measures and treaties to address climate change, has discouraged tax-funded scientists from talking about the evidence that man-made climate change is occurring.

SEJ has twice urged Environment Canada to end such media policies — but has received no answer, not even a polite acknowledgement of receipt.

The Information Commissioner of Canada is the functional equivalent of an independent ombudsman, reporting directly to the Parliament. One of her jobs is to monitor the performance of federal agencies under the Access To Information Act.

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