Throughout history, politicians and scientists have had an uneasy relationship. Leading climatologist Michael E. Mann knows this firsthand; he's worked under both Bush and Obama administrations, and has been the target of climate denial attacks for over a decade. In this clip, he addresses concerns about the Canadian government "muzzling" federal researchers, and comments on the debate (or lack thereof) surrounding climate change within the scientific community.
He'll be in the red chair tonight, along with actor Idris Elba.
George: I believe the people are responsible for the government they elect. In this country, we had a government who did not dance around the climate change issue. They were very clear about what they stood. They were very clear about where they stood when it came to where the environment ranked on their list of priorities. Canadians knew it. Canadians elected. This is what Canadians want.
Michael Mann: Well I think sometimes the people don't quite know what they're getting. It isn't always clear what they're getting at the time that they vote.
And my guess is that the people of Canada didn't expect that they were voting for a government that would be censoring their scientists ... that wouldn't be allowing the scientists who actually study the impacts of climate change to talk to the media ... to talk to you.
George: Scientists now have to get their questions - have to get their questions and answers vetted by the government, don't they? Or by certain departments?
Michael: Well this is the way it was in the previous administration in the U.S., and I have colleagues who are not allowed to talk to the media, without first going through a public relations person - and they were often denied, the opportunity to talk to the media and instead, journalists were being redirected to scientists who shared the administration's outlook on the problem. And what's concerning to me is that it appears now that that culture - that ethos - has now sort of spread across the border, and it's what you're now seeing in Canada.