Government Science

Revoke rules and regulations that muzzle government scientists and allow them to speak freely about their work, with only limited and publicly stated exceptions.

Liberal Document Page 10 August 18, 2015
Sep 2019

Parliament dissolved

September 11, 2019

Parliament was dissolved on September 11, 2019. No law has been passed or amended to enshrine the rights of government scientists to speak about their work. As was mentioned in the last article dated February 2018, a majority of government scientists still can't talk as freely as they'd like, and no law exists to allow them to do so.

Feb 2018

Survey reveals federal departments still blocking access to scientists

The Globe and Mail February 21, 2018

More than half of the federal scientists who responded to an online survey conducted last year say they still do not feel they can speak freely to the public and media about their work despite Trudeau government policies aimed at unmuzzling researchers.

"The numbers do show that real progress has been made," union president Debi Daviau said. "But we’re finding that across the board, it’s taking some time for this culture shift to happen."

Federal Science Minister Kirsty Duncan said the government remains committed to unmuzzling federal researchers. "We know that culture change takes time. But I am making every effort to meet with scientists and to encourage them to discuss their important work with each other and with Canadians," she said in a statement.

This promise is marked as being "in progress" because the survey conducted with federal scientists demonstrates that this promise is not fully achieved yet. That being said, this promise had no original timeline, and progress has been made since 2015. This promise will be marked as "broken" if nothing changes between now and the next election, or marked as "achieved" if the government changes the law to enshrine scientific free speech inside a legal framework.

Jan 2017

Unmuzzled government scientists are ready to talk

Maclean's January 06, 2017

Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union that represents most government scientists, says that some departments, including DFO [Department of Fisheries and Oceans] [...] and Environment Canada, were proactive about this [the unmuzzling of government scientists and removal of previous gag orders] and explicitly told their employees and managers of the new approach soon after the announcement.

But that didn't happen everywhere. "Things were slow to get flowing," she says. "Yes, the government changed its communications policy, but nobody seemed to know about it." As of this fall, Daviau says more and more of their members were being clearly informed of their right to speak even if they were not designated spokespeople.

Last month, PIPSC triumphantly announced that it had negotiated with the government to include in its collective agreements a clause that protects this openness. "That was already the government's policy, but now it's enshrined in our collective agreement so no future government can take this away from us without a big fight," Daviau says.

Nov 2015

Scientists, ministers get green light to speak under Trudeau

CBC News November 06, 2015

In an email to CBC, Alain Vezina, regional director of science for the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, confirmed this morning that scientists at the institute are now allowed to speak openly to media.