1.Response to Shane Morris's lobbying in Ireland
2.Other Canadian Government scientists muzzled
3.Michael Meacher on the strange case of Shane Morris
NOTE: Shane Morris - a scientist employed by the Government of Canada - is still hard at work lobbying for GMOs in Ireland (see item 1), yet the public pronouncements of other Canadian Government scientists seem to be very tightly controlled, requiring approval from the top (item 2).
This makes it extremely difficult to believe that a Canadian public servant could - in the words of Michael Meacher - have 'embarked on such a vigorous and controversial public campaign as that of Mr. Morris without the reassurance that his superiors were at ease with his actions.' (item 3)
COMMENT by Prof. Joe Cummins: The High Commissioner for Canada (in London) James Wright's claims - of the Canadian Government's allowing government scientists to say about anything they wish to say - do not seem to agree with the real Canadian Government. The article below shows that government scientists have to wear muzzles. The only time their muzzles are removed is when their Minister allows them to be removed!
EXTRACTS: As a policy advisor to a foreign government; how much of what [Shane Morris] propounds is really in Ireland's interest? (item 1)
...does the Government of Canada always grant such leeway to its employees to lobby for whatever causes they wish regardless of the political and other repercussions? As you will be aware, others in the Canadian bureaucracy are alleged to have got into considerable trouble for expressing their views. (item 3)
[Canada's ministry of the environment] Environment Canada has 'muzzled' its scientists... 'Just as we have 'one department, one website' we should have 'one department, one voice,'' says a PowerPoint presentation from Environment Canada's executive management committee that's been sent to department staff... Gregory Jack, acting director of Environment Canada's ministerial and executive services... said the policy is meant to bring Environment Canada **in line with other federal departments**. (item 2 - emphasis added)
1.GM industry's effort to end food labelling
Irish Farmers Journal, 2 February 2008
Judging by his response, I must have hit a raw nerve with Shane Morris when I called for a moral and ethical approach to the debate on GM.
I was dismayed that his response was littered with the usual anti-organic 'urban myths'. He labours the point about the labelling of organic products as GM-free. Many conventional products are also labelled GM-free in response to the concerns of consumers.
His final paragraph is obviously intended to be ironic. But it also diverts attention from the strenuous efforts the GM industry has put into trying to stop the transparent labelling of GM foods, and it is worth pondering on why this is so. As a policy advisor to a foreign government; how much of what he propounds is really in Ireland's interest?
Asdee, Co. Kerry
2.Environment Canada scientists told to toe the line
Margaret Munro, Canwest News Service National Post, January 31 2008 http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=277560
Environment Canada has 'muzzled' its scientists, ordering them to refer all media queries to Ottawa where communications officers will help them respond with 'approved lines.'
The new policy, which went into force in recent weeks and sent a chill through the department research divisions, is designed to control the department's media message and ensure there are no 'surprises' for Environment Minister John Baird and senior management when they open the newspaper or turn on the television, according to documents obtained by Canwest News Service.
'Just as we have 'one department, one website' we should have 'one department, one voice,'' says a PowerPoint presentation from Environment Canada's executive management committee that's been sent to department staff.
It laments that there has been 'limited co-ordination of messages across the country' and how 'interviews sometimes result in surprises to minister and senior management.'
Environment Canada scientists, many of them world leaders in their fields, have long been encouraged to discuss their work on everything from migratory birds to melting Arctic ice with the media and public. Several of them were co-authors of the United Nations report on climate change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
'It's insulting,' says one senior staff member, who asked not to be named. She says researchers can no longer even discuss or confirm science facts without approval from the 'highest level.'
Until now, Environment Canada has been one of most open and accessible departments in the federal government, which the executive committee says is a problem that needs to be remedied.
It says all media queries must now be routed through Ottawa where 'media relations will work with individual staff to decide how to best handle the call; this could include: Asking the program expert to respond with approved lines; having media relations respond; referring the call to the minister's office; referring the call to another department,' the presentation says.
Gregory Jack, acting director of Environment Canada's ministerial and executive services, says scientists and 'subject matter experts' will still be made available to speak to the media 'on complex and technical issues.' He would not explain how 'approved lines' are being written and who is approving them.
Jack said the policy is meant to bring Environment Canada in line with other federal departments, but insists 'there is no change in the access in terms of scientists being able to talk.'
He says the intent of the new policy is to respond in a 'quick, accurate way that is consistent across Canada.'
The reality, says insiders, is the policy is blocking communication and infuriating scientists. Researchers have been told to refer all media queries to Ottawa. The media office then asks reporters to submit their questions in writing. Sources say researchers are then asked to respond in writing to the media office, which then sends the answers to senior management for approval. If a researcher is eventually cleared to do an interview, he or she is instructed to stick to the 'approved lines.'
Climatologist Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria works closely with several Environment Canada scientists. He says the policy points to the Conservative government's fixation with 'micro-management' and message control.
'They've been muzzled,' says Weaver of the federal researchers. 'The concept of free speech is non-existent at Environment Canada. They are man
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