September 16, 2013

OTTAWA ­– While public protests take place across Canada to Stand Up For Science, Official Opposition Science & Technology Critic Kennedy Stewart challenged the Conservative government to end its continued muzzling of federal scientists and researchers in government departments. Dr. Stewart’s motion would ensure communications officers, elected officials, and Ministerial staff could no longer restrict public access to government scientists.

“The Conservatives have used every tool in their disposal to attack scientific integrity and muzzle scientists working in the civil service,” said MP Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby-Douglas). “By interfering with the open communication of scientific research, this government is undermining our capacity to make democratic decisions using the best evidence available.”

Based on recent directives issued by the Obama Administration, the NDP motion calls on all federal departments and agencies conducting scientific research to implement communication policies that actively encourage scientists to speak freely to journalists and share their research with Canadians.

“The new Minister of State for S&T should be standing up for science in federal departments. Instead, his government is running from accountability and transparency by shutting down Parliament again. Canadians deserve better and our scientists deserve real support,” continued Dr. Stewart, an Associate Professor on leave from Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy.

Motion on Scientific Integrity (Communications)

That, in the opinion of the House, federal departments and agencies conducting scientific research should identify, develop, and implement communication policies that:

(i) actively support and encourage federal scientists to speak freely to the media and the public about scientific and technical matters based on their official research, including scientific and technical ideas, approaches, findings, and conclusions;

(i) allow federal scientists to present viewpoints that extend beyond their scientific research and incorporate their expert or personal opinions providing they specify they are not speaking on behalf of, or as a representative, of their department or agency;

(iii) ensure that public affairs or communications officers, elected officials, and Ministerial staff do not restrict, limit, or prevent federal scientists from responding to media requests in a timely and accurate manner;

(iv) prohibit public affairs or communications officers, elected officials, and Ministerial staff from directing federal scientists to suppress or alter their findings;

and (v) affirm the right of federal scientists to review, approve, and comment publicly on the final version of any proposed publication that significantly relies on their research, identifies them as an author or contributor, or purports to represent their scientific opinion.