Are scientists being muzzled? A look at the record

Infographic: Fifteen years of NRC publications

by Amanda Shendruk

Scientists in Canada are raising their voices about the muzzling of federal researchers. In rallies across Canada, they have spoken out about the Conservative government’s lack of research-based policy decisions and its science strategy, which they argue focuses on industry rather than fundamental research.

Maclean’s explored these concerns earlier this year in an article about the muzzling. Reading through it, I got stuck on a paragraph in which the minister of science’s spokeswoman boasted about the research published last year by federal scientists: ”There have been no recent changes to the government’s communication policy for federal civil servants,” the statement said. “Government scientists and experts are readily available to share their research with the media and the public.” The missive went on to highlight the 500 studies published last year by Natural Resources Canada, and the “nearly 1,000″ scientific papers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Scientists must share research with other experts—by publishing scientific papers—in order for science to progress. They must also be able to share it publicly—through the media, as a start—to foster an informed society. Despite the claims, it has become clear that federal scientists are hindered in their ability to do either.

The decreasing media access to Canadian scientists isn’t a secret. Numerous national and international publications have documented increasingly restrictive media protocols.

Less scrutinized is a decrease in peer-to-peer communication. At a recent Parliament Hill rally, one speaker noted that the federal ideological and funding shift from basic scientific inquiry to industry partnerships and commercialization corresponds to a drop in scientific publications.

The National Research Council of Canada (“Canada’s premier science and technology research organization”) has an online archive of all its publications. The past 15 years of NRC-authored peer-reviewed publications are represented on the graphic below. Though the NRC only represents a portion of publicly funded science, the data appears to provide yet more evidence that federal researchers work in a political climate that discourages the communication of science.

(Note: the archive depends on author submissions and is updated on a continual basis.)




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Are scientists being muzzled? A look at the record

  1. “The decreasing media access to Canadian scientists isn’t a secret”….
    The statement is not entirely correct, in that it reflects only government scientists. There are far more scientists at academic institutions than at NRC. University-affiliated scientists are not subject to federal or provincial government oversight with respect to media interactions.

    • That’s true, I’m only referring to government scientists. I meant “Canadian” like “federal”, but I can see how it could be misinterpreted.

      • It IS misrepresented.

    • Yes there might be far more scientists in academic institutions but with government funding going down to nearly nothing guess who’s paying for the research? The private sector. And now, imagine what kind of research the private sector is funding. The one that pays back quickly. And guess what happens to the scientists that don’t say what the private sector wants to hear? Real fundamental research is just about dead.

    • This comment was deleted.

  2. We need to put something in the constitution about the muzzling of knowledge….that kind of thing kills a nation.

    • This coming from someone who can only reply to criticism by shouting down the criticizer is far too ironic LOL

      • I never shout, luv….I never need to.

      • And this is coming from someone who rattles off PMO talking points and tells whoppers to support those points..

  3. Any insight into how “publish or perish” mandates at NRC over the years might play into the change in publication rate?

    • I haven’t heard much about the “publish or perish” problem , but I have heard a lot of talk that the government’s ideological and funding shift towards industry may play a role here. It’s often fundamental science that results in publication-worthy science. With less fundamental science being performed, there may be less novel science to publish in academic journals.

  4. Federal scientists shouldn’t be doing academic research. That’s what academia is for, and that receives enough tax dollars as it is.

    When did Canada become such a loser of a country that nothing can be accomplished without it being run by the federal government? It’s really sad to see how pathetic our scientific community has become that they can’t even do fundamental research without working for the federal government.

    • Federal scientists do research on things that business’s won’t – things like acid rain to name one or have you already forgotten that Harper cancelled that world class research facility when they were going to look at the effects the tarsands had on the waterways.

      • No, Harper did not cancel that world class research facility. He put it up for sale and nobody wanted to buy it. It was too expensive to run. It has been in existence since the 1970′s and all they’ve really done is the acid rain study. There was one potential buyer – a UN organization but the scientists working at the Experimental Lakes did not want to work under the UN as it would have made their work “political”. What does that say?

        • It says pretty much what hates all politicians said.

        • I call BS. the ELA has done TONS of other stuff not just the acid rain study, the other world-changing finding was that phosphate is the biggest cause of algal blooms not nitrogen as previously thought -> lead to the removal of phosphates from detergents which reduced eutrophication of the Great Lakes (helped save Lake Erie from becoming one huge dead-zone). They have also worked on changes to natural flooding patterns due to dams and reservoirs to determine the effects on fish -> revealed it can interfere with the spawning of some species which has lead to slight modifications of dam/reservoir management to mitigate the effect. And until its closure was looking at impacts of cage aquaculture.

          • Also in the 1980′s. That’s thirty years ago. I guess what I’m asking is – given how much it cost to run this – is it worth it? These lakes need to be brought back to a pristine condition after every use.

          • Wrong, wallhousewart. Research at the ELA in the 90′s helped hydro companies build cleaner reservoirs. Research in the last decade has provided data vital to determining mercury emissions and if spending billions to reduce them is worth it. Plus, over 40 years worth of research has showed us how lakes respond to climate change. But you probably don’t believe in climate change…
            And, yes, Harper did cancel it. Only because of intense push back did he decide to find another operator and even then he made it real, real difficult.

          • The climate hasn’t changed much in forty years. You are talking a lot of money to put these lakes back together. It seems like a very expensive lab.

          • Face it, you don’t know what you’re talking about. First, you insist the only research done at the ELA was acid rain, and in the 1970s. Then you insist the other research described by someone else was only done in the 1980s (which is wrong). Then you insist that the long-term climate research being done there is unimportant, because climate hasn’t changed much in the last 40 years, which is also wrong.

            Not only that, you’re just making up stuff to make it look like Harper isn’t to blame for closing the ELA or that it wasn’t an intentional decision designed merely to get rid of it and the pesky “anti-industry” scientists in the federal civil service who so inconveniently study and publish research papers on the effects of human activity on the environment, and specifically on freshwater systems and fisheries.

            Harper closed it. He simply cut the funding, and told Ontario that Canada was backing out of the agreement with Ontario governing the exclusive use of that tiny part of northern Ontario for freshwater research. End of story.

            He didn’t try to sell it to anyone, including the UN. The scientists there haven’t “refused” any alternative funding arrangements. Instead, they simply lost their jobs. Because when Harper cancelled the funding for the research centre, most of that $2 million per year in total funding was for salaries. If you cut the salaries, it means you cut the positions and the people.

            Also, only about 6 or 7 lakes have ever had experiments done in them, and they’ve never received any more pollution than regularly falls on all the lakes in southern Ontario. Also, every lake that’s been experimentally manipulated has also been allowed to recover, and they’ve studied the recovery while it’s occurred. The major costs of closure are for removal of things like concrete flow monitoring stations on streams and the outflows of lakes, removal of buildings, etc.

            So, no surprise, your latest “fact” – that it’ll cost a lot to “put these lakes back together” – is also wrong.

            At $2 million per year, it’s the cheapest, most effective, most important environmental research program in the world. That cost is also less than the extra funding used to expand Harper’s office in 2007, after he was elected.

            The closure of ELA has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with muzzling scientists, killing federal government science capacity, and gutting the best environmental research program in the country. Because Harper doesn’t like it when scientists point out that his public policies and statements are built of lies.

          • I must really be ruining your “dialogue” around ELA. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-set-to-transfer-unique-freshwater-research-lab-to-un-group/article5360306/

            From the CBC “Internationally renowned researchers say the government’s planned shutdown of the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario would cost $50 million. The money, needed to revert the lakes to their natural state as required by law,” So if it takes $50 million to return the lakes to their natural state, how often have they been returned to their natural state? That is suppose to happen after each “experiment”. Yes, it may cost $2 million in salaries to run but you have to factor in the cost of clean up.

            Is the government not allowed to drop programs, in your opinion? Why have none of the academic organizations stepped up to the plate? They use them all the time.

          • As Bill800 mentions, the cost you state includes the removal of structures put in to allow monitoring of the surface waters (flows, levels etc) plus the other buildings housing labs and or accommodation blocks. It is not for the sort of remediation to which “clean up” often refers.

            Tha nature of the vast majority of the work that has gone at the ELA of which I am aware has involved only short-term (when considered against the length of time that the ELA has been operating) manipulation of the experimental lakes. These have been allowed to recover from the disturbance because it affords an excellent opportunity to study recovery processes.

            Any Government is allowed to drop research programmes, but as a tax payer, you’d hope that the Government had a good reason for doing so. The ELA is an internationally renowned service producing unique, world-leading science and facilitating important, world-leading science to be undertaken at other Canadian institutions. It costs very little to run. The arguments Harper et al have come up with (lack of fit in DFO, costs) just don’t pass muster.

            By your argument, any government can do what they want, regardless of whether it is wise, just, or to the benefit of the nation. We the people should just shut up. Really!

            Your comments here only highlight what little you know on this and a wide range of topics, but far be it from me to stop you looking like a prize fool.

          • I would take the time to look up the papers that have been published by the ELA in the scientific literature before you spout off about the lack of importance of this outdoor laboratory.

          • I didn’t say it wasn’t important. What I said was can we afford it? Because a government puts a project or program in place, does that mean it has to run indefinitely? Obviously a lot of you commenting are activists upset that we should even ask for a cost/benefit analysis. It takes $50 million to return these lakes to their natural condition after an experiment.

          • just..just stop… just stop, please. you just sound foolish: “you are activists”, “t was in the 70s no the 80ss”" ….<>just stop raising nonsensical “facts” in the hope that something will seem…what? logical?? just stop

          • Why should I? I’m obviously rattling your cages. When are you all going to realize we just can’t afford all this? The middle class in Canada has been decimated and they were the majority taxpayer.

          • Sorry, we can’t afford 2 million to determine what effect development will have on your water, we spent all your money on a PR campaign to tell you how great it all is.
            We just can’t afford it all. And if you have to choose between the acquisition of facts and the reality-based exploration of the world that science deals with, or spending taxpayers money on slick ads to then tell them what to think, the latter is obviously indispensible.

          • Lenny, it takes $50 million to return the lakes to their natural state. $2 million is just the operating costs. And furthermore, don’t talk to me about blowing money when your beloved Liberals have just blown $1.1 BILLION dollars to save one seat in Oakville.

          • This isn’t a partisan issue. Those that don’t support Harper are also allowed to criticize the Liberals. The other option is pandering to political rhetoric that simply puts people into teams, sets them at each others throat, and avoids any real discussion or debate. I am so tired of being labelled a lefty when I often fall neatly in the middle.

          • Two commenters have already explained to you that your figure is for the decommissioning of the entire site, a cost only incurred due to the Conservatives decision to shut it down. But even your fake figure is less than the Conservatives spend in one year telling us what to think.

            What does the actions of a party I have no association with, in a place I have no association with have to do with the Conservatives spending my money to tell me what to think?

          • You know that the Harper government spent $28 million promoting the War of 1812, right? In virtue of that startling number I think we can establish that cost isn’t the true motivator. Instead, this fits with a pattern of muzzling information that doesn’t fit a specific agenda. I find that truly troubling.

          • I wouldn’t assume wallmart knows the real reasons they made the cut. After all, they wouldn’t bother pretending it was about cost savings if they didn’t think at least some rubes would believe them.

          • Walhousewart. Do you work out of the PMO office?

    • Corporations don’t don’t do academic research. At least, they dislike doing so and in Canada they don’t have the excess cash to do so.

      What they do is the work which allows them to profit from academic research. And right now, as is clearly visible with the graphs in this article, Canada is outputting far less academic research. Because these “enough tax dollars” aren’t in fact going to academia.

      • The graphic shows just the NRC rate, not all academic research in Canada. We publish very well, thank-you!

        • I know, but I was extrapolating. Those who are gettting funding are getting it because they fall into what topics that have been kept, which is mostly medical plus industrial. If you’re working on what’s been deemed worthy, you’ve got money. If you’re not, even if you’re good, you’ve got no money.

          It’s not as easy to change fields in hyper-specialized modern science as many people think it is, and if you’re doing research, you should know this.

          By the way, “we” are not publishing nearly as well as pre-Harper.

          • Do you have any evidence for that statement?

          • Based on talking to university scientists I can say with confidence that many of them are:

            1) Losing funding so are not able to hire/pay as many graduate students and post-doctoral fellows which means fewer experiments and less publications.

            2) The few able to maintain their funding are having to spend more time applying for grants in order to maintain it (many have to increase the number of grants they apply for by 50-100% to maintain the same level of funding). This means less time to do the actual research and less time to write up the research they have done so the results end up sitting on their desks underneath piles of grant applications & rejections rather than making it into journals.

            I haven’t found a study counting all the publications by all scientists in Canada and I don’t have time to personally get permission from all the hundreds of journals and/or dozens of abstract databases to download their entire databases to pick out the papers with at least one Canadian author. If you know of a study which has done please post a link. Otherwise I think the smartest thing to do is extrapolate from this study to other scientists.

          • Yup, Agilemind, coming from an academic scientist, that’s spot on.

          • I don’t know either, but I don’t not believe it could be as stark and the NRC numbers above. That type of drop would be quite apparent.

            I agree though that grant competitions are fierce, and at the last round of CIHR operating grants, the funding rate was 17%. This is despite the annual increase in the tri-council funding (yes, that’s right, the Harper government has increased annual research budgets each year, though in small increments). Part of the problem, as I see it, is the increase in research budgets for targeted research, a the expense of investigator driven grants.

    • Not sure what you mean by academic research. Do you mean basic vs applied research. Governments have a role to play in funding both, but I would argue that basic research, which doesn’t necessarily have an immediate pay-off ought to be supported by governments.

      Also, you should be aware that academic research, ie done at universities/hospitals etc, is supported by arms-length federally-funded agencies such as CIHR, NSERC-SSHRC.

    • Well, there’s a certain idiocy, err irony, involved in condemning government research and development while typing on a technology that began in a U.S. government defence agency (DARPA).

    • Oh Rick if only you weren’t blinded by your Stevie man-crush, maybe you’d re-read that statement and see how silly you look. Go and do some of that world famous “research” that you claim you do and see how many countries on the globe do not undertake centralised governmental scientific research. Then ask why that is?

      What I do find ridiculous is the amount of public cash that is given to corporations as subsidies, tax breaks etc. I always thought that capitalism said that they are wealth creators who operate far more more efficiently than any public enterprise; surely they should be able to do it all themselves and then smile as they showed us how good they are by paying for public services?

    • Harebell’s 2nd paragraph backs you up Rick. His 1st paragraph is a rant. Perhaps he he should change his moniker to ‘harebrain”

      • HB needs medication to treat acute Harper Derangement Syndrome.

    • Rick, don’t be silly. By that reasoning, federal scientists, or any employees in general, should not be doing any research or support of private business. That’s what private business is for.

      Your error is in artificial compartmentalizing. Societies prosper by building a greater common platform from which we all can benefit. Government performs academic research *of national importance* because it is the most efficient means to benefit the most Canadians. Any other approach either reduces the benefit to Canadians, i.e., we are less prosperous and have lower quality of life, or it costs us more to get the same thing.

      Think in terms of efficiency and value for investment, not in terms of artificial boundaries by name association like “academic” research. I’m all for making better processes for pruning dead-end science and re-allocating those finite
      resources on more promising or important research, but killing off the research itself harms you, me, and the rest of Canadians. We end up with less, not more, when we try to reclaim taxes that was producing value to us that exceeded the costs. Research is an investment in common growth and benefit, and you need to think of it in those terms.

  5. On the graphic, there almost seems to be an implication that the dip in publications in 2008 was linked to getting rid of the science advisor (highlighted with a big red star). The article doesn’t go there, which is is a good thing, since the science advisor had very little to do with the actual science done in Canada. Moreover, I would wager that most Canadian scientists did not know who this person was or even that the position existed.

    On the other hand, it would be helpful to know what NRC funding rates and staffing levels were during the up and down phases of publication numbers.

  6. Nice graphic! A picture that is definitely worth more that 1000 words.

    Canada continues it’s slide down almost every international rating scale. On the “Competitive Index” recently compiled by the World Economic Forum, Canada managed to maintain its 14th place ranking. According to the WEF, Canada’s workforce is well educated and mobile, but Canada ranked #24 in innovation.

    Canada used to be #1 on the UN Human Development Index; now we are #11.

    Canada used to have 9 universities in the top 200 list compiled by the Times Higher Education. Now we have 7. The Netherlands, with &frac12; the population, has 12.

    And then there is Canada’s rapid ascent on some less desirable lists. Like Transparency International’s “Corruption Index”, or household debt vs. income, or OECD’s (overheated) house price index (#3).

    Quite the legacy for the Harper Government™.

    • These agencies are all part of the Bretton Woods organizations (UN, IMF, OECD and World Bank) formed after WWII. You get gold stars for implementing THEIR policies not forming your own. Good for us. The further we fall, the better we are.

      • And you get no points for not explaining why that is bad, especially given the amount of power they wield. You made an interesting statement but left it hanging, if you have a point it never came through.

        • Individual nations deserve individual policies, not one size fits all from the dreamers and theorists at the global level.

          • Unless there is a correct route to go, then it isn’t surprising when you find that many folk choose the same path.

          • Folks are not choosing, they are being conned by their government selling them policy that they didn’t develop.

          • It’s odd, but I can kind of agree with the sentiment there but I think it is misdirected towards science. With the basic necessities of life being the same for every person on earth, it isn’t surprising that each arbitrary patch of land called a nation has arrived at similar research priorities in a lot of cases.
            But there is no doubt that a lot of the social research priorities are suspect.

          • Conned by conservatives. Yes, I can see that.

          • After all yr yammerin’, I see right here who you are. Yr my neighbour, with whom I will walk dogs and play cards, but talk no politics because he already knows about all the conspiracies concocted by progressives, socialists, the UN, Obama …
            My perspective is that we all indwell a single life-support system, and there is one size that fits all: earth-sized thinking. You are very good at throwing up talking points and deflecting other points of view, but it is all just so much hair-splitting. It is effective, for it distracts from larger considerations, but in that regard it is also essentially dishonest.

  7. Once again, to explain to everyone, Canada is not muzzling scientists. This is a meme being pushed by CAUT – the Canadian Association of University Teachers. They are annoyed that Canada’s version of NOAA, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is actually a department of the Federal Government and not an arms length agency like NOAA. Therefore, as civil servants, their work belongs to the Federal Government and is directed by the Federal Government. They cannot be bullied or bribed by other unions and grant monies into producing consensus science. Both CAUT and NOAA would really like the Feds to spin off DFO as an arms length agency which is what this is all about. The scientists within DFO are quite happy at the current arrangement.

    • This new learning amazes me! Tell me again how sheep’s bladders can be used in the prevention of earthquakes.

      -from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

      • There’s none so blind as those who will not see.

        • That tin hat appears to need some loosening. Next you’ll be insisting the illuminati are involved

          • Get stuffed. Go back and read where most of these “Canadian scientists being muzzled” are coming from. It’s from CAUT and Dr. Andrew Weaver.

          • bwa ha ha

          • Yes, the utterly objective and non-partisan Andrew Weaver.

    • The scientists in DFO are quite happy with a third of their staff being laid off? I’d be surprised.

      • Being laid off has nothing to do with being muzzled. Most are pretty close to retirement age anyway. In fact I heard that was one of the reasons for getting rid of the experimental lakes was the number of staff retiring.

        • You hear an amazing number of strange things. Ont and Man are taking it over.

          One day you may even explain why you’re afraid of every organization created after WWII.

          • Everything EmilyOne writes is through the strict lens of the LPOC.
            Every single response is simply reflexsive rhetoric.

          • ????? I have no idea what this has to do with the Libs….but in any case I’m not one.

  8. I picked up a comment from a government scientist on his blog which I find cuts to the heart of the matter. It is from Unmuzzled Science. “For us, the risk of speaking out publicly is significant- doing so means losing our houses and who knows what for our families. While Weaver suggests that we should find courage at the defense of our union (PIPSC) , they can’t really do anything to save us if we break the so-called “Values and Ethics code”, a condition of employment which we agreed to follow when we signed up for this job, for better or worse (and which we have been reminded of by our superiors on a frequent basis since these cuts began trickling down from above).

    This is the nature of the beast. You work for any level of government on any job and you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This isn’t just for scientists, everyone does it including contractors. The difference is nobody is interested in unmuzzling accountants. So Harper isn’t “muzzling scientists”. You could say part of the hiring rules for the Federal Government include signing a non disclosure agreement. It has been there from way before Harper’s time. Today, though, science has become political and the political scientists in academia, foreign government agencies and NGO’s don’t like the fact they can’t control the message coming out of the DFO nor do they like the idea they also have to sign non disclosure agreements to work with DFO.

    • I pay for these scientists’ research. Why can’t I get access to it?
      The research belongs to Canada. not Steven Harper or the Conservative Party.

      • It is available to you….in journals that publish the research!

        • Shoud it not be proudly posted on public government websites?

          • I don’t see why it would be the governments job to advertise publications, it would inevitably be slow, cumbersome, and out of date. Research institutions publish their own lists. Moreover, there are multiple search engines for journals that are freely accessible.

          • Who said anything about advertising ? Tax funded research should be available free of charge to taxpayers. It should be accessible on government web sites.

          • Ps. Read what Gavin says ..

        • The naivety of that statement suggests a poor understanding of the STEM publishing world. You do realise that *most* academic papers are in journals that require subscriptions or charge ridiculous access fees for single issues? Should the public that funded this research then fork out another $20-40 to a publisher just the read the results? Should our public libraries be expected to shell out $1000s for journal subscriptions?

          In actual fact research outputs are *not* practically available to the vast majority of those that paid for the work in the first place. All while STEM publishers make huge profits on the back of scientists’ research.

        • The point of this article is that since the Conservatives took over, the much less of it is being published (1/3rd as much!) … or maybe less of it is being done, of course, that is more opaque.

          Then there is the widely reported fact that it is much harder for journalists to get access to government scientists, both for interviews, and to get simple questions answered.

          So no. 2/3rds (or more) of the research that was available to me a few years ago is no longer available to Canadians.

    • Hi Wally,

      I’m the scientist that wrote that passage. Thanks for the plug- you can find that first post of mine plus many more over at unmuzzledscience.wordpress.com, where you can find lots of other gems, like a copy of DFO’s publication policy introduced not so long ago, which gives my manager the signing authority for copyright release, and therefore the ability to pull my paper even though they have not been involved in the work; new rules limiting my ability to even apply for external funding (because, yes, that’s where most of our funding comes from- including NGOs- we compete with the academics for many of the same pots of money, there is very little internally for research funding to go round); a few other tidbits too.

      Yes, I had some idea what I signed up for when I took the job, but it’s really gone to new heights the past few years. And I think one of the main points that’s emerging through all of this- the ability to discuss one’s work publicly, with the media- is where things could very easily be improved without much work. If we can publish the work, let us talk about it. Scientists are a careful bunch of folks, and for their own sake (even though our employer seems overly concerned about this), we are not ones to overstate the significance of our findings, lest we be called out by our peers.

      By the way, you need an institution to be associated with to have a paper accepted for publication. Lots of people within the contaminants group were laid off, and can’t publish without some form of affiliation. As far as I know, many have been lucky enough to gain employment elsewhere, but many within DFO are still facing uncertain futures as the department continues to drag it’s feet with informing staff of their place within the department.

      Much like academics, the notion that any of our work would be somehow influenced by our funding source is ludicrous. However, when your employer has the power to keep you from even publishing your findings, regardless of whether they funded it or not, we should all be concerned.

      So yes, we are being muzzled; no, most of the folks leaving DFO are not just from retirements, and I’ve never heard a good reason for the ELA being closed yet (which last I heard, was still under negotiations for transfer to IISD- see http://www.iisd.org). Despite your efforts to sound informed on many of these matters, I fear that you are representing an example of how misinformed the public is around these topics, and in the end, highlight the need for a more open discussion on both sides. Including government scientists.

      • Maybe part of the reason a lot of us are uninformed is we aren’t getting to hear your side of the story other than that presented through CAUT. As I work for a government as well, I am aware of these non disclosures that have to be signed both by employees and by consultants which is one very major fact that none of these “Canada’s scientists are muzzled” articles really explains which is why I used your article. I don’t think any of us on these boards are truly “informed” as we get see-sawed between activists and the media. Thanks for clearing the whole picture up.

        • I would tend to agree, in that no one is getting our side of the story except through colleagues- the classic “telephone” problem; by the time it goes from A to B to C, the original issue is not always where it started. Problem is our Values and Ethics code, in which case we can’t be openly critical of the way things work to anyone but our employer; but if we try to deal with our issues internally, we are ignored by our managers and administrators. In the end, this means we have no venue for noting the problems that exist, nor any means of improving our situation. I fear that the end result of this will be a lack of any government science getting done at all, due to either hand-tying government scientists internally by throttling funding and limiting operational abilities in bureaucratic red tape (e.g., travel to field sites, etc), or through an exodus of people from government science who find themselves unable to operate under these conditions, and an inability to recruit new scientists to a system that is so broken in the first place. Either way, not a good sign for advancing government-driven science generally. In either case, I am hopeful that some reasonable discourse can be achieved with the people who are making decisions such that these fundamental issues can eventually be addressed.

  9. In keeping with the CPC interpretation of data, that chart is clearly wrong as there’s been an increase in unpublished research!

    • well said, right on the money

  10. how about pointing out what this means in terms that conservative voters will understand: scientists = jobs. (they might be temporary but not any more than pipeline jobs)

  11. We’ve actually slid into dangerous terrain under our Dear Leader. In addition to scientists being muzzled, Crown Corporations are not arms-lenghth anymore. That is a very dangerous precedent because these bodies, who are supposed to serve all Canadians, are being used as partisan instruments.
    Maybe, yes, it was done under previous governments, but not to this extent!

  12. The infographic shows Canada’s slide into third worlds status under Kim IL Harper’s reign of corruption.

  13. You really need a proper funnel plot to make a claim that information is being withheld in service of a private agenda.

  14. how come when it came to the “great” recession Liberals such as Dalton was given leeway for his spending habits- but the PM is accused of muzzling scientific research due to lack of funds. funding something for the sake of funding something is a ridiculous idea and should not happen. If a scientist has a good idea I am sure he/she will receive the funds – if its stupid then probably not – how come there is no “research” on the types of ideas put forward. I give the gov’t some credit for not willy nilly funding. Scientist that scream about muzzling, probably did not receive the grant they were so hoping to get and had to get a real job…

  15. another thing, is if you look at the graph you will see a commonality of good times vs bad times economically…

  16. oh yeh, swing away…

  17. I would love to see a graph that compares Canada to other 1st world nations publications. Have many scientist gone to the private sector due to more funding or have they changed their field of focus due to whats hot and whats not. How do we compare to other nations…

  18. 2008 is also when the stock market crashed, and Canada was almost brought into recession, with the Prime Minister making some tough choices to keep our economy strong and healthy. The drop in government positions related to scientific research probably had more to do with the publication drop than the single position of “National Science Advisor to the Prime Minister”. I personally would rather a strong economy than a dead one with a lot of research done.

  19. Very interesting. I wonder how funding and job cuts correlate with these figures.

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