Canadian Science Writers' Association

Excellence in Science Communication in Canada

Right to Know

Right To Know: Is government muzzling scientists?

September 29, 2010 — (Note: Some of the articles below coincide with Canada’s national Right To Know freedom of information week)

In an attempt to provide a chance for members of the current federal government administration to show more transparency and accountability to science communicators and the Canadian public, CSWA board member Tim Lougheed invited several federal MPs to a panel discussion June 7, 2010 at our annual conference.

Among others, James Rajotte, MP Edmonton-Leduc and deputy minister of Fisheries and Oceans Claire Dansereau attended and participated in this panel.

A defining moment for science journalism in Canada

During the discussion and Q&A with audience members, including journalists from several major news organizations, Dansereau committed to meeting with science journalists to discuss ways the federal government could more effectively disseminate information to both reporters and the general public.

Several days ago, Dansereau met with current CSWA president Kathryn O’Hara in Ottawa to discuss how this might be accomplished.

The issue so far…

  • Earlier this month a column by CSWA board member and Canwest News Service reporter Margaret Munro chronicled the frustrations of science journalists across Canada with current roadblocks to accessing government scientists in the Vancouver Sun (editorial on the issue)
  • Freelancer Glen Blouin tackled this issue September 25 in the Montreal Gazette
  • On September 29, a piece by Kathryn O’Hara further outlining these issues was published online in the journal Nature
  • Later that day, science reporter Emily Chung published a piece referring to the Nature article here
  • NEW: Check out this campaign related to the issue started on Science undermined by politics: federal union
  • NEW: Finally, a group of scientists have joined forces to speak up for government researchers

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