A survivor’s guide to being a muzzled scientist

I figured it would be a good idea to summarize some of the thoughts I have from having lived through this in the Canadian government to offer some ideas to colleagues in the US who are now entering what seems to be a similar (if not worse) era of limiting communication from government scientists and (possibly?) down-weighting scientific evidence in policy decisions, particularly as they relate to the environment and natural resource extraction. This comes…

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Facts, or lies. There is no “alternative”.

I thought I was done with this blog, but a white house press secretary spewing lies that are so easily discredited being defended by Kelly Conway this past weekend just about made me throw up. You can watch the whole disaster of a train-wreck here, and you should, just to appreciate the scope of what the next four years will be like for our southern neighbors and biggest trading partner in Canada. It’s also worth…

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How muzzled are government scientists now?

A recent flurry of articles from Sun Media have appeared in the news over the past few weeks to question (a) whether muzzling has changed under the new Liberal government, (b) whether it was just made up in the first place by disgruntled scientists, or (c) that scientists weren’t just making it up, but had some alternative agenda for making it up. Let’s look at each of these and see what we can conclude on…

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Open your mouth and say… Science.

How refreshing. DFO scientist after being alterted of new communications policies on Friday. After much talk of “cautious optimism” from just about everyone regarding the new Liberal government in power in Canada, we are seeing some of that optimism being confirmed. I and many others have commented that the first and simplest step to restoring public trust in our government’s commitment to science would be to lift communications restrictions on scientists speaking about their research.…

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Reject (Gary Goodyear’s) Fear and Lies

This pissed me off so much it made me come out of retirement on this blog. So I (as I hope most of you did) listened with keen interest to the Science Debate hosted by Quirks and Quarks last weekend. I caught it when it was posted on Friday, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch it Saturday am (you can still find a link to the whole thing here: please give it…

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Steve Campana knows how to make an exit

I haven’t written much here since leaving DFO, but I couldn’t let this one slide. Steve Campana, a scientist with DFO for more than 30 years, retired this week to take up an academic position in Iceland. His exit speech is an encouraging piece of confirmation that I was not alone, as a DFO scientist, and that the issues I encountered weren’t just isolated to my region (Central and Arctic). Take 20 minutes out of…

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Job satisfaction of Canadian government scientists tanking

As I try to move on to a more positive mind set, and leave the bitterness of my government science days behind me, I’m less inclined to keep this blog going on a regular basis. But then I see a gem like this. http://www.speakingupforscience.ca/news/2015/2/26/nrc-employee-satisfaction-dives-since-2011 Go and give it a read. If you’re not a government scientist (or was recently one, or work or live with one), the results are shocking. I, on the other hand,…

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Is the government letting the Visiting Fellow program lapse?

I recently received a shocking and disturbing e-mail from someone who came across this site. The gist of the e-mail is that this person was going through the Visiting Fellowship application process with NSERC to work in a government lab, but was recently informed by NSERC that: “…the program has been put on hold until further notice. I have been told by NSERC that the Memorandum of Understanding between NSERC and the government expires at…

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Negotiate *this*.

Last week, the union that represents government scientists (PIPSC, my former union) tabled a bold negotiating position with Treasury Board (the branch of the government that you negotiate with when you’re a Union), as reported by the Ottawa Citizen. Rather than making it about salary increases, or sick days, as one might have expected, their negotiating position puts the notion of scientific integrity front and centre. My first reaction upon reading a summary of their…

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Let my fellow scientists speak

For those interested, I have an op-ed appearing in the Ottawa Citizen tomorrow. For those who can’t get to a newsstand in Ottawa, the link to it is here. Luckily, the folks at the Ottawa Citizen have a better knack for headlines than I do- this is a vast improvement over what I had suggested ;) Apparently they have the rights to the piece now, but I am allowed to post an excerpt along with…

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