|Print Version||Public Policy|
A month ago, the governments of Canada and Alberta announced a $50 million program to monitor environmental impacts of the oil sands. The ministers boasted that this effort would prove we have a world class regulatory system whose hallmarks signify scientific versimilitude, transparency and credibility.
Their boasts are doomed to failure. Federal scientists have now been thoroughly discredited in international circles, and all because political message suppression has effectively muzzled them.
The independent panel that designed the monitoring program strongly urged the governments to create a stand alone commission free from political interference. They chose instead to keep it in-house, controlled by assistant deputy ministers who are, like it or not, subject to the whims of their political masters. No amount of self-righteous rhetoric will insulate monitoring results from the suspicion that they’ve been subjected to spin doctoring.
Yesterday, the Globe and Mail issued an editorial that declared “Federal scientists must be able to speak not only with their professional peers, but also with the public and with journalists, without vetting and preapproval from communications staff.” Well said … except that the editors justified their position by citing current US moves to promote scientific transparency. They missed the essential point. Without it, Canadians will continue to be mired in an endless cycle of reputation mismanagement.
Posted On Apr 03 09:48AM
Thanks for this and so many other comments that help us to understand the state of federal politics in Canada. I wish I had discovered your blog long before I first came upon it in February. You represent all Albertans very well.
Teaches in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta.
Posted On Mar 22 06:10AM
Right on ....