Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Transparency denied: federal scientists complain of being muzzled

        A government elected on a platform of law and order, accountability, decentalization and transparency and which imposes tight - authoritarian / centralizing - controls upon the access of federally employed scientists to the media.. Wha' the hell is going on ???

         This website, representing Federally employed scientist, provides ample evidence that the Harper Conservatives are following the lead of anti-science, populist right-wingers in the States.

          Thus John Geddes in a MacCleans article, 13 sep, 2010, reports:

"For instance, when Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced a $5-million study into the feasibility of creating an Arctic marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound last year, I tried to do a few quick interviews with federal biologists who study the sound’s abundant sea birds. But the bird guys told me they were required to go through an approvals process that would have prevented them from talking to me on the record quickly enough to meet my deadline for posting an item on the subject on this website that same day."

           But, goddamit! these are only bird scientists, BIRD, like the ones that fly around your feeder or shit on statues in the park. This isn't even global warming science.. Good Lord! Have these "transparency" mongers lost it completely? Is their mania for control (centralization) and censorship that strong.. One wonders. And if one believes in democracy, one fears..

           Bruce Cheadle, in The Star, sep 19, 2010:

           Paradoxically, the current restrictive policy flies in the face of the government's own objectives stated in their "Communications policy of the Government of Canada" dated 1 aug, 2006:

"Openness in government promotes accessibility and accountability. It enables informed public participation in the formulation of policy, ensures fairness in decision making and enables the public to assess performance.”

           Why then this puzzling shift in practice relative to their own stated agenda? What happened in the intervening four years? One can only stand puzzled, reflecting on the corrupting influence of power and vested interest on noble goals. For example, Cheadle notes that such "censorship" and "creative re-interpretation" of research on cod stocks was rife in the Dept of Fisheries way back in the 90s, long before the Harperites hit town.

          Of course, the real issue here is the "fit" between "theory" and "practice". In theory, Democracy is rule by the People. In order to rule, the rulers must 1- be informed (that is, they must have access to all relevant data required to make an informed decision) and 2- they must participate in decisional procedures (example: by electing representatives - members of parliament - who "stand in" for their electors in decision making and who are accountable to their electorate for their actions). 

           Is part of the reason so few young people vote because they are aware of the fact that they are not being informed by their governement and elected representatives..

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