Mon, 2014-07-21 11:26Carol Linnitt
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Charities Bullied Into Muting Their Messages: Researcher

gareth kirkby, canadian charities, audits

Canada’s charitable sector — the second largest charitable sector in the world, after the Netherlands — has come under threat from federal policies that hinder advocacy groups from doing their work, according to new research.

As DeSmog Canada and other outlets have reported, numerous charities — ranging from development organizations to women’s rights groups — have lost their funding from the federal government during the last several years.

Most recently, in June of 2012, the federal government announced $8 million would be devoted to investigating and auditing charities to ensure their activities comply with Canada Revenue Agency rules. (DeSmog Canada recently revealed through Access to Information legislation that, in fact, more than $13 million has been dedicated to these audits).

Several individuals and organizations have criticized the audits as politically-motivated.

So far, we haven’t heard much from the charities themselves under audit, because, with resources already stretched thin and sometimes multiple federal auditors scrutinizing their work, speaking out has been seen as too much of a risk.

But what charities haven’t been able to say for themselves is now outlined in a new analysis by former journalist and graduate student Gareth Kirkby. His research on the ‘chill effect’ that resulted from the ongoing audits was brought together in his thesis (attached below), recently submitted to faculty in the public communications department at Royal Roads University.

Fri, 2014-06-06 09:38Mike De Souza
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Top 10 Quotes from Canada's Muzzled Scientists

muzzling of scientists, canada, harper government

This article is part of DeSmog Canada's ongoing series “Science on the Chopping Block.”

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a strong case for parents to accept scientific evidence about the effectiveness of vaccines.

We do have scientists and medical professionals who do great work and verify this and I just think its a tragedy when people start to go off on their own theories and not listen to the scientific evidence,” he told the CBC in an exclusive interview.

Don’t indulge your theories, think of your children and listen to the experts.”

Within his own government, scientists and professionals who do research and gather evidence, are urging the prime minister to take a second look at his own theories.

Mon, 2014-06-02 06:09Mike De Souza
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Environment Minister Calls Muzzling Allegations "Absolutely Ridiculous" in Parliament

muzzling of scientists, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq

This post originally appeared on and is republished here with permission.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is describing fresh allegations of muzzling as “absolutely ridiculous.”

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Canadian Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq rejected criticism from opposition New Democratic Party MP Megan Leslie who said the government “will stop at nothing to hide the consequences of climate change.”

Leslie raised the issue in the Canadian House of Commons following comments from Environment Canada explaining that its meteorologists were not supposed to talk about climate change in media interviews.

Climate change is real,” said Leslie, the NDP’s environment critic and deputy leader. “While media cannot contact most government scientists, it does have 24-hour-a-day access to meteorologists. Yet draconian government rules and fear of losing their jobs puts a gag on these meteorologists. They are avoiding talking about the crucial and scientific connection between weather patterns and climate change.”

Some recently-released quotes from a union survey included comments from a meteorologist who expressed concerns about publicly speaking about climate change and described it as a “career-limiting move.”

Thu, 2013-12-12 12:53Carol Linnitt
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Environment Canada Letter to Federal Scientists Acknowledges 22 per cent of Interviews Denied in 2013

Image from PSICS The Big Chill of muzzling of scientists

An open letter to Environment Canada staff from Deputy Minister Bob Hamilton and Associate Deputy Minister Andrea Lyon says science done at the department has become an “issue…receiv[ing] attention recently,” prompting the letter to provide official “perspective” on the matter.

Throughout 2013 22 per cent of media requests for interviews with scientists were denied while requests in the past five months have increased by 50 per cent, the letter states. In total Environment Canada received just 316 media requests in 2013, of which 246 (78 per cent) were approved.

Climate scientist at the University of Victoria and Green party MLA Andrew Weaver says the fact that Environment Canada is giving such a small amount of interviews is “shameful.”

If a federal organization, comprising thousands of scientists across the country is giving 246 media interview in a year, that’s not too dissimilar to what I was doing as an individual faculty member at the University of Victoria,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. That’s way down from what it used to be.”

Wed, 2013-10-23 11:32Tim McSorley
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The Big Chill: "Scientists Can't Do the Job They Were Hired to Do"

The Big Chill report highlights the muzzling of scientists in Canada

A new survey of federal researchers and scientists reveals the startling degree to which they are limited in their ability to share their research findings with the public, including in cases of the public good, and for the first time gives a clear view of the degree to which scientists feel political interference determines how their work presented.

The study, called The Big Chill, reveals that 86 percent feel they would be reprimanded if they spoke out to the media in a situation where a decision by their department goes against what their research finds to be in the public interest.  A full 90 percent also said they are simply not allowed to freely speak to the media about their work.

In more concrete terms, 37 percent say that, within the last five years, they have been directly stopped from sharing their expertise in response to a question from the media or the public, and nearly one quarter have been forced by government officials to modify conclusions of their research for non-scientific reasons.

Thu, 2013-09-26 09:58Guest
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In the Soviet Era as in Canada: Science Suffers Under Authoritarian Rule

Stand up for science rally by Zack Embree

This is a guest post by Richard Kool, Associate Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University in Victoria.

Back in the 1930s, the Soviet ruler Josef Stalin had a problem with genetics; as a result, geneticists were branded traitors (“Trotskyite agents of international fascism”), stripped of their positions at government laboratories and universities, sent to prison, or even executed. Soviet biological sciences were hindered for more than a generation. The story of the Soviet geneticists has a distant resonance to the story of what is happening to government-sponsored environmental science in Canada today.

Fri, 2013-09-13 11:32Tim McSorley
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'Stand Up for Science' Rallies to Gather Lab Nerds, Defenders of Democracy

death of evidence rally by richard webster

Last year, Canadian scientists and their supporters mourned the “Death of Evidence” in Ottawa. This year, though, they are being asked to stand up and be heard.

On Monday, “Stand Up for Science” rallies will be held in 14 cities across Canada, calling on the federal government to better support science done in the public interest.

Many of the problems that were impetus of the Death of Evidence rally last year are still there, and if anything, things have continued to get worse,” said Dr. Katie Gibbs, one of the organizers of both Monday's rally and last year's Death of Evidence protest, in an interview with DeSmog. “This rally, we're focusing more on making suggestions for how the government could start to restore public science.”

Those suggestions include: supporting the open communication of publicly funded science to the public; using the best available science and evidence to make the best decisions; and funding scientific research from basic science through to applied.

Fri, 2013-06-28 08:00Carol Linnitt
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Artist Franke James Live and (Actually) Uncensored (Since, Apparently, She Refuses to Be)

Franke James is Your Fault art

In 2011, Toronto-based writer, artist and environmental activist Franke James was asked by Croatian non-profit Nektarina to feature her artwork on an European tour. Unsurprisingly, James agreed, only to have the tour cancelled when the Canadian embassy in Croatia withdrew funding that it denied ever giving Nektarina, and made the non-profit aware that James “speaks against the Canadian government.”

James was not one to be silenced, as her new book reveals. Banned on the Hill: A True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship catalogues the entire ordeal of being blacklisted by Harper’s government for speaking out against the tar sands, and puts the paper trail Canadian diplomats left of their censoring ways on display.

DeSmog: You’ve been spreading a message of environmental awareness that runs counter to the Harper government’s pro-oil stance since 2003. Did you have any inkling that something like the government’s squashing of your European tour might eventually happen?

Franke James: No! Who would ever think you could get into trouble for writing to the Prime Minister asking that we make polluters pay? Is this Canada or the Kremlin?

Thu, 2013-06-27 08:00Guest
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Evidence For Democracy: Government Scientists Are Muzzled

Evidence for Democracy

This is a guest post by Scott Findlay, an Associate Professor of Biology, a member of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa, and cofounder of the new national advocacy organization, Evidence for Democracy. 

Re: “Muzzling government scientists?” by Philip Cross, June 14

Philip Cross, former Chief Economic Analyst at Statistics Canada, repudiates the claim that government scientists are being muzzled. What is his evidence?

In contrast to Mr. Cross’s assertion, concerns about muzzling have been voiced by academic institutions like the Canadian Association of University Teachers, writers associations like the Canadian Science Writers Association, and scientific organizations like the Royal Society of Canada. And even if these other institutions were not involved, would the bringing of the muzzling charge by an “advocacy” organization in itself undermine the case?

Of course not — all parties in judicial undertakings are partisan by definition. What matters in court is not who brings the case, but the evidence adduced to support the case so brought.

Mon, 2013-06-03 07:13Carol Linnitt
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Harper’s Attack on Science: "No Science, No Evidence, No Truth, No Democracy"

This is a DeSmog Canada post originally commissioned for the Academic Matters: The Journal of Higher Education May edition “The War on Knowledge.”

Science—and the culture of evidence and inquiry it supports—has a long relationship with democracy. Widely available facts have long served as a check on political power. Attacks on science, and on the ability of scientists to communicate freely, are ultimately attacks on democratic governance.

It’s no secret the Harper government has a problem with science. In fact, Canada’s scientists are so frustrated with this government’s recent overhaul of scientific communications policies and cuts to research programs they took to the streets, marching on Parliament Hill last summer to decry the “Death of Evidence.” Their concerns— expressed on their protest banners—followed a precise logic: “no science, no evidence, no truth, no democracy.”

No Science”

Since 2006, the Harper government has made bold moves to control or prevent the free flow of scientific information across Canada, particularly when that information highlights the undesirable consequences of industrial development. The free flow of information is controlled in two ways: through the muzzling of scientists who might communicate scientific information, and through the elimination of research programs that might participate in the creation of scientific information or evidence.


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