Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | Categories: Episodes
Silenced Scientists - Gary Corbett
Statisticians aren't the only ones feeling under-appreciated by the federal government these days. Government scientists are becoming increasingly frustrated because they believe their work isn't playing enough of a role in shaping government policy.
Many are also upset that they can't talk to the media or the public about their work without getting permission first. Under the Conservatives, government scientists are required to get the approval of the communications director or minister in the department in which they work before they can talk to the media. And many government scientists say that approval is too often denied.
In response, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada -- which represents the 23,000 scientists employed by the federal government -- has launched a website called publicscience.ca. Gary Corbett is the group's President and he was in Ottawa.
We wanted to hear the government's response to these concerns. We called several departments which employ scientists. And were turned down by the offices of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz ... Environment Minister Jim Prentice ... Industry Minister Tony Clement ... Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis ... Treasury Board Chairman Stockwell Day ... as well as Gail Shea, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans ... and Gary Goodyear, the Minister of State for Science and Technology.
Silenced Scientists - Shiv Chopra
Shiv Chopra is a former government scientist who knows all-too-well about the perils of speaking his mind. He was a microbiologist at Health Canada. He was fired in 2004, after he publicly condemned the government for pressuring scientists to approve various veterinary drugs. Health Canada denies that this was the reason for his dismissal. Shiv Chopra's most recent book is Corrupt to the Core: Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower. He was in Ottawa.
Silenced Scientists - Richard Zurawski
According to Richard Zurawski, there's another problem at work here. He is a meteorologist and a university lecturer, as well as a radio and television host. And he says that even as we become more dependent on advances in science and technology, our scientific literacy is suffering.
Richard Zurawski's forthcoming book is Media Mediocrity: Waging War Against Science. He was in Halifax.
Last Word - Elias Doc Promo
We ended the program today with a preview of tomorrow's program. For a hundred years, Saint Andrew's Church was the hub of the Anglophone community in La Tuque ... a largely Francophone town in Quebec. But there just aren't that many English speakers in La Tuque any more. So Saint Andrews Church has been shut down.
As part of our project, Shift, the CBC's Elias Abboud will bring us the story of what happened in La Tuque and what it means for the rest of the province. We aired a clip from his documentary.