The Terry Project on CiTR #27: Silencing the Scientists

Graphic Design by Talal Al Salem/Terry Project

Graphic Design by Talal Al Salem/Terry Project

Has Harper politicized federal science? Since 2006, the Canadian government has laid off scientists while expanding its communication staff. On this episode of The Terry Project on CiTR, Gordon and Sam speak with scientists, journalists and activists about the state of science and spin in 2013.

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Produced by: Chirag Mahajan, Sam Fenn, Gordon Katic
Special Thanks: UBC’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, and the Alma Mater Society, Kathryn Gretsinger (CBC), Andrew Trites (UBC).
News montage: clips from CBC.

Part I:

In a recent survey by The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, 90% of surveyed federal scientists reported feeling that they are not allowed to speak freely to the media. In part one, Sam is kept from speaking to a government scientist named David Tarasick by federal communications staff and Gordon asks experts why the Harper government has muzzled its scientists.

Part II:

In part two, Sam and Gordon profile Peter Ross, a former scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Peter lost his job when the government closed its contaminants program. Why did the government of Canada close Peter’s lab? And who is watching our oceans now?

Guests (in order of voices):

  • Duff Conacher, Democracy Watch.
  • Margaret Munro, Postmedia.
  • Kennedy Stewart, opposition critic for science and technology
  • Clayton Greenwood, law student, University of Victoria.
  • Peter Ross, former Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist.
  • Jean-Pierre Desforges, former student of Peter Ross.
  • Vince Palace, Stantec, former Department of Fishers and Oceans scientist.

Bonus Material

  • Read Clayton Greenwood’s report, written for Democracy Watch and the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Program.
  • Kennedy Stewart has been tabling a number of motions to push back against Harper’s policies. Check out some of the things he’s been saying in Parliament and in the news.
  • Read about “the big chill,” the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada report.
  • Margaret Munro’s reporting was indispensable in this. In particular, the stories about David Tarasick, Kristi Miller, and Scott Dallimore.
  • Also, check out some of the leaked media relations documents, FOIA’d emails, and more — all on Margaret Munro’s Scribid page.
Leaked Environment Canada Powerpoint, courtesy Margaret Munro's Scribid Page.

Leaked Environment Canada Powerpoint, see the full presentation on Margaret Munro’s Scribid page.


Hat tip to Mark for sharing this visual comparison of the US and Canadian responses to Tom Spears’ requests. Check it out.


Related Topics


Gordon Katic (@gordonkatic) has been student coordinator for the Terry Project for over two years, and in that time started BARtalk, and the Terry Project on CiTR 101.9FM. A former Ubyssey columnist, and now a student at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, Gordon is trying to use journalism to tell important stories about global issues.