Kathryn O’Hara, then president of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year to urge the Canadian government to allow scientists to speak freely with the media. Here’s a quote from today’s Globe and Mail:
Ms. O’Hara wrote “Take off the muzzles and eliminate the script writers and allow scientists – they do have PhDs after all – to speak for themselves.”
The government did not change its policy. The standard operating procedure still requires that all media requests for interviews be vetted through public affairs officials in Ottawa. Sometimes, scientists are cleared to speak – often they are not.
Contrast that with the “scientific integrity policy” adopted last month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States.
NOAA’s new guidelines – which make it clear scientists can speak about their work any time, to anyone – flowed from a memo President Barack Obama sent to the heads of executive departments in 2009. In that missive, he affirmed his support for transparency in government and urged directors to foster a culture of scientific integrity.
In Canada, government scientists who want to talk to the media still have to get permission from public-relations officials, who can silence anyone they want.
Here’s the link to the full article:
If they can’t talk to formal media, I wondered if Canadian scientists are using social media to share their findings and a quick search found this site, where they indeed are doing just that!
Here’s their site: