February 20, 2013
There are few issues more fundamental to democracy than the ability of the public to access scientific information produced by government scientists information that their tax dollars have paid for. We as a society cannot make informed choices about critical issues if we are not fully informed about the facts. Yet research done by ELC student Clayton Greenwood demonstrates that the federal government is preventing the media and the Canadian public from speaking to government scientists for news stories especially when the scientists’ research or point of view runs counter to current Government policies on matters such as environmental protection, oil sands development, and climate change. In sharp contrast to past Canadian practice and current US government practice, the federal government has recently made concerted efforts to prevent the media and through them, the general public from speaking to government scientists, and this, in turn, impoverishes the public debate on issues of significant national concern. Working with Democracy Watch and ELC staff, ELC student Clayton Greenwood has requested that the Federal Information Commissioner investigate the apparent 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.