Monday, September 20, 2010

Federal scientists muzzled despite 'openness' policy

Canada's scientific community is buzzing over newly tightened rules that further restrict government researchers from speaking with the media about their work. Yet the No. 1 policy statement for government communications, according to Treasury Board, is to "Provide the public with timely, accurate, clear, objective and complete information about its policies, programs, services and initiatives."
The directive is part of the "Communications policy of the Government of Canada," posted on the Treasury Board website and dated Aug. 1, 2006, months after the Conservatives came to power. The policy calls on public servants to speak "openly" with Canadians. Recent access-to-information documents obtained by PostMedia News reveal that all media inquiries to scientists working for Natural Resources Canada must now pass through a Byzantine thicket of "subject matter experts" and the minister's director of communications — "no exceptions."

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