Canadian Government Will Allow Scientists to “Speak Freely,” Reversing Years of Conservative Damage

In the United States, we have an entire party that trashes what scientists say.

In Canada, under new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, scientists are finally getting a chance to do their jobs — and tell the public about it — without the foot of the government keeping them down:

“Our government values science and will treat scientists with respect. This is why government scientists and experts will be able to speak freely about their work to the media and the public,” said Navdeep Bains, Canada’s new minister of innovation, science and economic development, in a statement on Friday afternoon.

The change comes after years of criticism that Stephen Harper and the former governing Conservatives “muzzled” scientists, barring them from speaking to the media. The Tory policy was the frequent target of protests and petitions, including one signed by 800 scientists from across 32 countries in 2014.

Harper, an evangelical Christian, had a long history of getting in the way of science. He eliminated the office of National Science Adviser but appointed a Creationist, Gary Goodyear, to the position of science minister.

Already, members of the media are capitalizing on the new opportunities:

On Friday, one of CBC’s health reporters, Pauline Dakin, wrote that in the past six to eight years she has never been granted an interview with the health minister.

But twice this week, her colleagues, including radio host Nicole MacLennan, were able to speak with Liberal ministers Kent Hehr and Bains within an hour of requesting interviews.

“It was very exciting,” said MacLennan.

I’d be excited, too, if I lived in a country where politicians gave scientists the respect they deserve since evidence-based thinking shouldn’t be polarizing.

Instead, I’m stuck with politicians who do this:

Well done, Canada. Once again, you’re making us look bad.

(Top image via Shutterstock. Bottom image via NRDC Tumblr. Thanks to Steve for the link)


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