Monday, September 13, 2010

All political, all the time...

Everything is political. The Harperites know all. If science, including bona fide peer reviewed research, doesn't fit their illusion of ice cream coming from an irritating little truck spewing pollution, it doesn't make it to the page. Even though you pay for it.

Via Impolitical comes the latest in the Harper attempt to muzzle everyone and everything in government, including science carried out by research departments at universities. (Emphasis mine)
The Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age.

Natural Resources Canada scientists were told this spring they need “pre-approval” from Minister Christian Paradis’ office to speak with national and international journalists. Their “media lines” also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation.

The documents say the “new” rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply to not only to contentious issues including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago.

Why? Because the Harperites live in fear that their continuing big lie will be exposed. Any fragment of actual knowledge needs to be suppressed. If it isn't parades, ponies and ice cream, it doesn't fit their public presentation. If, after the last ice age there was massive flooding, someone might relate that to the melting of the ice caps and, instead of the loss of the caps being a good thing, it might be viewed as a disaster.

Can't allow that. Harper conservatives are all about sunshine and daisies - blown right up your ass.

“It’s Orwellian,” says Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at University of Victoria. The public, he says, has a right to know what federal scientists are discovering and learning.
And you can see the problem right there. "Climatologist". To a Harper conservative that is the enemy.

The documents show the new rules being so broadly applied that one scientist was not permitted to discuss a study in a major research journal without “pre-approval” from political staff in Paradis’ office.

NRCan scientist Scott Dallimore co-authored the study, published in the journal Nature on April 1, about a colossal flood that swept across northern Canada 13,000 years ago, when massive ice dams gave way at the end of the last ice age.

The study was considered so newsworthy that two British universities issued releases to alert the international media.

It was, however, deemed so sensitive in Ottawa that Dallimore, who works at NRCan’s laboratories outside Victoria, was told he had to wait for clearance from the minister’s office.

Dallimore tried to tell the department’s communications managers the flood study was anything but politically sensitive. “This is a blue sky science paper,” he said in one email, noting: “There are no anticipated links to minerals, energy or anthropogenic climate change.”

And it didn't just stop at approval. Everything was to be stage managed.

Robson asked Dallimore to provide the reporter’s questions and “the proposed responses,” saying: “We will send it up to MO (minister’s office) for approval.” Robson said interviews about the flood study needed ministerial approval for two reasons: the inquiring reporter represented a “national news outlet” and the “subject has wide-ranging implications.”
Andrew Weaver holds nothing back. I suspect, if the Harper government lasts much longer we'll be hearing more about Dr. Weaver and it won't be pleasant.

The control and micro-management points to a high level of “science illiteracy” in the upper ranks of the federal government, he says, and “incredible disrespect” for both the researchers and the taxpayers footing the government’s multi-billion-dollar science bill.

“The sad reality is that these guys in Ottawa think federal scientists work for them,” says Weaver. “They don’t, they work for the people of Canada.

“This is science funded by Canada for the public good,” he says. “It is not science funded to produce briefing notes for ministers so they can get elected in the next federal campaign.”

Right. And Shari Graydon adds some appropriate shading to the problem. This is not just science; it's everything.

The flat earth theory was discredited quite a few centuries ago and “evidence-based practice” is all over the Internet, so it’s not like the tradition is a little-known secret. So what would it take for Canadians to insist that the decisions being made about our collective future be informed by verifiable knowledge?

Consider this as one citizen’s plea for scientists of all stripes to step onto the information highway in all its forms a little more often, to challenge governments and voters alike to demand that policies and spending be backed up by reliable and independent data.

The problem, of course, is that Harper and his hillbilly caboodle react to any challenge with a singularly unimaginative response and abuse of power. They smear the challenger publicly and then remove that person from arena.

Some of the Harper troglodytes will tell you that none of the micro-managing actually affects the day to day life of Canadians. That, however, is simply not true. Ministerial interference and political meddling has reached right into the next six hours of your life. Not even your weather forecast is safe. (More on that in the future)


1 comment:

opit said...

Wow. This is the story of our day - and a replica,again - of Bush/Cheney tactics south of the 49th that, among other things, enabled the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico by changing tax policy to encourage - yep, you heard me right - deepwater drilling. And Obama can have all the 'investigations' he wants...that is the root problem...dollar bills.
Energy policies that allow nukes to power Ft MacKay ( usually referred to as Ft McMurray ) extraction operations was one of the more 'interesting' ideas bruited about in recent years.
It rather makes you wonder if the old AEC media control policies from the 50's suppressing reports of problems in the Canadian nuclear industry isn't in danger of being resurrected !
Talking Points aren't just for Faux News...they just don't want them published !
Here's a related story
I get tired of plugging my lists as if you have to visit to get goodies. Nah. I'm enough of a salesman to provide samplers.This ought to keep you busy for a few minutes.
LOL I thought Third World Traveler was too subtle. These people have no such problem !