Slashdot points us to a troubling report out of Canada, concerning a scientist who appears to have been given something of a gag order concerning her research about depleted salmon stocks. I have to admit that the article in the Vancouver Sun is not particularly clear at all as to why the scientist herself can’t just speak out. I’m a bit confused about how Canadian laws work on this, but apparently there’s a Privy Council Office, which has the power to block the scientist, Kristi Miller, from talking about her research:
The documents show major media outlets were soon lining up to speak with Miller, but the Privy Council Office said no to the interviews.
The Privy Council Office also nixed a Fisheries Department news release about Miller’s study, saying the release “was not very good, focused on salmon dying and not on the new science aspect,” according to documents obtained by Postmedia News under the Access to Information Act.
Miller is still not allowed to speak publicly about her discovery, and the Privy Council Office and Fisheries Department defend the way she has been silenced.
What I don’t understand — and perhaps some Canadian law experts could jump in and explain — is how this particular office can prevent Miller from speaking out herself, though that’s clearly the implication of the article. The reasoning given by the Privy Council Office and the Fisheries Department doesn’t make much sense either:
The Privy Council Office and the Fisheries Department said Miller has not been permitted to discuss her work because of the Cohen Commission, a judicial inquiry created by the prime minister to look into declines of the famed Fraser River sockeye salmon. She is expected to appear before the commission in late August.
But how would reporting the actual results of a study relevant to the Commission be a problem? That part isn’t clearly explained either, leading to the obvious implication that the government simply doesn’t like what’s in the report, and would prefer that it not be discussed. Of course, if that was the goal… it seems to have backfired.
Sourced from TechDirt
- Canadian Government Muzzling Scientists (news.slashdot.org)
- Feds silence scientist over salmon study (canada.com)
- Science that dare not speak its name (macleans.ca)
- Is the Canadian Government Muzzling a Scientist Over a West Coast Salmon Collapse Study? (treehugger.com)
- Canadian Fish Scientist ‘Muzzled’ by Government (news.sciencemag.org)
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