Behind the scenes look at Canada's Harper government gagging scientists


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The more I learn about Canada the more I realise it is awfully similar to my homeland of Australia.

  • Both nations are huge, with a relatively low population;
  • Both nations are part of the Commonwealth, and share a roughly similar colonial history (although Australia doesn't have the French aspect...);
  • both nations are home to an indigenous population that comprises of many separate tribes, which have shamefully been desecrated by colonisation;
  • both nations are very sparsely populated, except along one edge (Canada along the US border, Australia along the east coast);
  • both nations have economies that are largely resource based, with a pattern of exporting raw commodities, and buying back refined commodities and finished products from their main trading partners (Australia trades primarily with China, Canada with the US);
  • both nations currently have dick-head conservative leaders, pushing an agenda stooped in climate change denial;
  • both nations are pushing the use and export of incredibly dirty and inefficient fossil fuels, in Canada the oil-sands and in Australia the huge lignite reserves; and finally,
  • both nations political leaders are attempting to suppress scientific understanding because science condemns their actions as immoral and damaging.
  • Shithead politicians, and horrendously polluting fuel sources aside, both countries are lovely places to live and visit. If only we could vote in leaders who weren’t hellbent on pushing an agenda from the 1950s and blocking a transition to a more sustainably driven economy.


It’s strange. I have plenty of friends and relatives who voted for the Conservatives and would again. But they aren’t climate change skeptics, they’re usually opposed to military expansion, and they tend to be pro(ish)-union and in favour of social programs that would be called leftist in many other countries.

I have a hard time convincing anyone that the scientist-gagging is a problem, or that it even happens. First, obviously, because I can’t get anyone to read through the documents. Second, is that I must be misunderstanding the situation (a possibility I’m willing to consider) because if it was actually happening and was actually a problem, it would be a huge scandal and big news in all the important papers. A quick search for “Canadian scientists muzzled” gets hits from all our national papers and TV news networks, though. So who knows?


Indeed. That would be statistics. Numbers. Science.

FFS, Canada! You are supposed to be the good guys.

I had an acquaintance from Austria who had come to Canada after living in Norway for some time. He was completely perplexed by our government. He would say things like, “If a Norwegian government behaved like this they would have to disband the party because no one would ever vote for them again.”

It’s strange how in the English-speaking world, the pattern seems to be voting for governments that manifestly don’t reflect your interests. Maybe the monarchy is too deeply baked into our culture.

I think Australia has been voting in the idiot conservatives a little longer than Canada has, and to be honest I think Canada has a real chance of getting rid of them next election, but realistically when you look at how the different parties behave they pretty much do everything the same. There are some pet projects that differ (pet projects matter as they are things like foreign wars, billion dollar fighter jets, national daycare programs, etc.) but everyone, once in power, runs things basically the same way.

Anyway, I’m really happy this particular story came out. Because while “muzzling scientists” doesn’t resconate with people, “16 bureaucrats and 110 pages of emails about an interview that never happened” does.

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And you have the proper permission to identify this as science, yes?

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They just haven’t yet realized that the Conservatives of past times are not in control of their party anymore.

Reform is a far cry from PC, which is why Harper & company call themselves PC.

The Harper governments war on science is real and has been going for a long time. Chris Turner has written a great book, The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper’s Canada a great read which covers this topic in great detail and is a must read for all Canadians.

He doesn’t need permission to identify it… just to speak about it in public :wink:

Canadian government scientist. Like American teacher, I wonder why they have not all fled yet.

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