Canadian Scientists Call Countrywide Protests Against Government Censorship, Found Advocacy Group

from the lab-coat-fightback dept

Back in April, we noted that the Canadian government has been trying to muzzle various groups in the country, including librarians and scientists. It now seems that some scientists have had enough, as the Guardian reports:

Researchers in 16 Canadian cities have called protests on Monday against science policies introduced under the government of Stephen Harper, which include rules barring government researchers from talking about their own work with journalists and, in some cases, even fellow researchers.

Nor are these just a one-off, since they build on earlier protests:

The rallies, on university campuses and central locations in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver as well as other cities, will be the second set of protests in a year by government scientists against the Harper government’s science policies.

Like last year, protesters have been asked to wear white lab coats on Monday.

There’s also a new group called Scientists for the Right to Know:

In 2012, a Working Group of Science for Peace started to look into the muzzling of science and scientists in Canada. Muzzling is a broad process that may be carried out by governments, industry, universities, and others. However, we quickly realized that the current federal government is actually waging a war on basic science. While other Canadian governments have engaged in muzzling as well, we have never witnessed the type of systematic attack on basic science that is happening right now in Canada.

We therefore decided to focus at present on the muzzling of science on the part of the federal government. We also decided that we needed to find a means to engage the public at large. The focus of our work shifted, then, from researching the issue to advocating for unmuzzled science. It became clear that the work the group was envisaging would exceed the mandate of Science for Peace – education. We decided to form a new organization frankly devoted to advocacy.

It’s not clear how much impact this new group will make, but it is indicative that at least some people are beginning to move beyond simply wearing white coats at protests to organizing a more active resistance. The big question is how much support it will receive from government scientists around Canada.

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Comments on “Canadian Scientists Call Countrywide Protests Against Government Censorship, Found Advocacy Group”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

The muzzling of scientists is coming from about eight different directions. All of them from industries that will be disrupted based on technological trends. Energy, robotics, bio-sciences, news distribution, manufacturing, open source, communications, education, and several other trends are beginning to frighten corporations. The simple governmental solution lock them down one at a time, from the least likely to resist to the most.

I think the nerds living in university basements are about to surprise them …

Anonymous Coward says:

let’s hope this takes off big time. the next battle, which i think is even more important, particularly to the Canadian people is for Telcos to not have to build into their equipment back doors for law enforcement under the threat that, if they dont, they will basically be put out of business and certainly wont be able to bid on anything that would help to improve communications. when a condition of getting a license for use of wireless spectrum is to provide government with the capability to bug the devices that use the spectrum and anything that is encrypted must be decrypted before being handed over along with the decryption key(s) required, that is disgraceful behavior by any government. to find out this has been going on for at least 20 years is unbelievable! it needs to be stopped ASAP!!

Anonymous Coward says:

If Stephen Harper thinks silencing scientists who research goes against his own political ideology (like global warming) then he should look at what happened to other societies that attacked science and education because they didn’t like how educated people and scientists questioned them.

It’s little known for example, but decades before the Roman empire fell (perhaps over a century before it fell), the Roman government shut down ALL schools in the entire nation, except for private Christian schools that just taught people about Christianity. Why did it do it? Because Christians, after a long time of persecution in the Roman Empire, finally took over the entire Roman government from within, and decided getting rid of the non-christian schools would help them retain power.

Without an educated population, the Roman empire didn’t survive too much longer after that.

JJ Joseph (profile) says:

Enough whining

If these scientists don’t like being told to stop running off their mouths on global warming, the shrinking polar ice cap, or the damn polar bears, then they should do like the rest of have to do – get a real job somewhere else that doesn’t mind them spouting off about their bogus liberal nonsense. Canadian science whiners are just a splinter of the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Perhaps they could just go back to Pakistan if life in Canada is so difficult. Somehow I doubt they’ll take the offer even if offered free 1st class tickets.

Marc says:

question the motivation

Comes down to power and who currently wields it. Current paradigms view new ones as extremely threatening and disrupting, scientific research develops such. What’s right and best most often gives way to profit and power. Science does not exist in a sterile compartment of impartiality unfortunately. An example is that all oil, globally has to be bought and sold in US dollars which come out of a printer. If one were to come up with a power source that made power freely available to all, the US dollar would collapse. There’s a threat to power, and a strong incentive to suppress alt sources. The ‘powers’ generally fund scientists thru grants. They choose who and what gets funded. There’s also a culture of intimidation and mockery that dissuades scientists from pursuing “fringe” research.

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