Canada’s information commissioner Suzanne Legault ~ Postmedia News
01/04/13 _ The federal information commissioner’s office is launching a sweeping investigation into complaints that the Harper government has been ”muzzling” and restricting access to scientists.
Seven federal departments and agencies, from Environment Canada to the National Research Council of Canada, have been told Suzanne Legault’s office plans to act on complaints about “the systematic efforts by the Government of Canada to obstruct the right of the media — and through them, the Canadian public — to timely access to government scientists.”
“A notice of our intention to investigate and a summary of complaint has been sent” to the seven departments, Emily McCarthy, assistant information commissioner, says in a March 27 letter to Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria. Continue reading
Peter Kent in Parliament
Environment Minister Peter Kent has repeatedly said the government does not muzzle its scientists. But Kent’s office stopped David Tarasick, an Environment Canada researcher, from talking to journalists about a report on last year’s unprecedented Arctic ozone hole, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News under the Access to Information Act.
It’s the latest case uncovered by Postmedia News where ministers’ offices or the Privy Council Office have prevented federal scientists from talking to the media about their science.
The documents also say Kent’s office and the Privy Council Office, which reports to the prime minister, decide when and if Environment Canada scientists are allowed to brief the media about anything from wildlife to water quality.
Last fall, Kent was adamant in the House of Commons that ”we are not muzzling scientists.” And the minister reported to a parliamentary committee in May that “circumstances simply did not work out” to allow Tarasick to give interviews when a study he co-authored on the Arctic ozone hole was published in Nature, a leading science journal. Continue reading