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Canadian Government Muzzling Scientists 264

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-cranky-about-losing-the-cup dept.
Meshach writes "Scientists in Canada researching why salmon stocks are depleting face being muzzled by the Canadian Conservative government. Quoting: 'Science told Miller to "please feel free to speak with journalists." It advised reporters to contact Diane Lake, a media officer with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Vancouver, "to set up interviews with Dr. Miller." The documents show major media outlets were soon lining up to speak with Miller, but the Privy Council Office said no to the interviews. The Privy Council Office also nixed a Fisheries Department news release about Miller's study, saying the release "was not very good, focused on salmon dying and not on the new science aspect," according to documents obtained by Postmedia News under the Access to Information Act. Miller is still not allowed to speak publicly about her discovery, and the Privy Council Office and Fisheries Department defend the way she has been silenced.'"
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Canadian Government Muzzling Scientists

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  • Imagine (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anarchduke (1551707) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @01:12AM (#36891684)
    A scientist telling an uncomfortable truth being silenced by conservatives. It's preposterous.
    • by syousef (465911)

      A scientist telling an uncomfortable truth being silenced by conservatives. It's preposterous.

      Go on then. Let her tell aboot the feesh. Thankyou kindly.

    • Re:Imagine (Score:5, Insightful)

      by myurr (468709) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @02:40AM (#36892028)

      You needn't be so specific in targeting the conservatives - it's true of all politicians from all sides across the whole world. If a report or scientific study doesn't give the result they want, then they reframe the question and try to bury or hide the original. The EU even do it with national referendums (e.g. the Irish vote to ratify the Lisbon treaty that had to be held a second time as they didn't get the result they wanted).

      • by MacTO (1161105)

        True. On the otherhand, I don't recall the actual muzzling of scientist by centrist (right or left wing) governments. Yet North Americans have enjoyed at least two such leaders over the past decade.

      • Re:Imagine (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sayfawa (1099071) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @07:02AM (#36893182)
        I hear that a lot, and maybe it's true in other countries. But in Canada, yes, you do need to be specific in targeting the Conservatives.

        This Conservative government is an anti-fact government. They don't like evidence getting in the way of their agenda. From this, to the abolishment of the long-form census, to firing scientists who speak out, to going ahead with their "tough-on-crime, lock-'em-all-up" strategy in the face of evidence around the world that it doesn't work. The other parties are not like this. True, the other parties sometimes have other faults, but this abhorrence of data, facts and objectivity in general is a Conservative thing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pnewhook (788591)

          They don't like evidence getting in the way of their agenda. From this, to the abolishment of the long-form census...

          They did not abolish the long form census, they only made it voluntary instead of mandatory. From a freedom point of view this is exactly the right thing to do.. Do you really want your government asking you very personal questions, then having the ability to fine and jail you if you don't want to answer? Thankfully they fixed that piece of nonsense.

          • Voluntary Juries. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by mevets (322601) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @07:19AM (#36893276)

            Nobody should be threatened to perform public service; besides there are lots of people who would gladly serve on juries. What could go wrong?

          • Re:Imagine (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @07:41AM (#36893506) Homepage Journal

            At the same time what are statistics worth if they are voluntary? I thought the whole point of the census was to have decent statistics to help confirm choices made and help future decisions?

          • by anyGould (1295481)

            They did not abolish the long form census, they only made it voluntary instead of mandatory.

            This sounds good in theory (Freedom good, Privacy good). In practice, I've never heard of a case where someone's personal information leaked from StatsCan. In practice, in order for those statistics to be useful, you need an unbiased random sample. Making it voluntary means it's self-selected, which ruins the results.

            And in practice, the long-form census is easily the least intrusive thing the federal government does to us, and it's done with a clearly stated and obvious benefit (I've filled out a long-form

        • Re:Imagine (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @07:45AM (#36893558) Homepage Journal

          I sometimes wonder if Harper based his governance methods on those of George Bush and his cronies?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Toze (1668155)
          I know this will be shocking, but guess what Conservative supporters say about the Liberal party and its policies and supporters? Pull your head out of your bias, dude. "Blah blah oh the problems are really THIS party's fault" means that you're on the other team. Problems in democracies are systemic, not partisan.
        • by anyGould (1295481)

          This Conservative government is an anti-fact government.

          If I needed to be more specific, I'd say that the current Conservative government is trying very hard to become a franchisee for the Republicans.

          It's moving a little slower up here, but all the fingerprints are there - blocking work to make a point, the compulsion to argue that everyone without an opinion Obviously Believes The Same As I Do, and people who oppose are Subversives (of whatever stripe we're painting this week), and the complete obliviousness to anything that might indicate they may be incorre

      • Re:Imagine (Score:4, Informative)

        by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @07:07AM (#36893206)

        Take a look at how different the two versions of the ratification that the Irish voted on were, its quite interesting...

        Basically, they didn't just vote on the same thing twice - it was rejected, they heavily amended it and asked if the amendment was acceptable and it was.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        You needn't be so specific in targeting the conservatives - it's true of all politicians from all sides across the whole world. If a report or scientific study doesn't give the result they want, then they reframe the question and try to bury or hide the original.

        Yes, whenever a politician encounters a scientific fact that conflicts with their ideas he will try to cover it up. The difference is that conservatives are much more likely to have ideas that conflict with scientific facts.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      A scientist telling an uncomfortable truth being silenced by conservatives. It's preposterous.

      This would never happen in Ame .... oh wait!

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      The Liberals did the exact same thing. You can't close the fisheries or else that will cost jobs and that will cost you in the next election. But what you can do is take the numbers the scientists give you, double them, and then brag about how under your stewardship things are getting better all of the time. All you have to do is make sure the scientists aren't allowed to talk to the media directly.
      • Re:Imagine (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ironhandx (1762146) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @07:02AM (#36893172)

        Realy?

        I say this with incredulity because the Liberals did exactly that.

        The only real difference is that the liberals shut down local fisheries and then sold the quotas equal to the fisheries they had just shut down to foreign nationals. So we still have over fishing going on, its just not helping canadians at all. All of it was very hush hush and no one knew about any of the fishing quotas that had been sold until Portuguese boats started getting spotted in Newfoundland waters.

    • When he took that position in early 2007 said that
              The facts are in about climate change; the time for study is over; it is time for action.

      His action was to fire the climate scientists from Environment Canada. EC has been reduced to a marketing wing of the tar sands oil extraction travesty.

      There is a pattern.

  • They use their power to influnce those not in the know and give the powerful even more control.
    Those penned fish breed disease and kill the native population.
    Get use to stunted, zombie salmon that taste like cardboard.
    Because, Thats all you will be able to afford, once the native stocks are killed off.
  • The Year: 2022. The Place: New York City. The Population: 40,000,000
  • Home and native land: 0

  • Only 4 more years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by future assassin (639396) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @01:49AM (#36891812) Homepage

    of Harperizim. By then 1/3 of us will be in private jails for breaking copyright laws or smoking a joint.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      of Harperizim. By then 1/3 of us will be in private jails for breaking copyright laws or smoking a joint.

      BTW is Maui Wowee copyrighted? Do they still plant a fish under a cannabis plant.

    • by Syberz (1170343)

      Only 4 more years? That's what we said last time he was elected, and what did we do?

      We gave him a majority government this time... wtf?

    • by j-cloth (862412)
      What makes you think he'll be gone in 4 years? There is zero opposition to him right now and what there was is currently battling cancer. Harper, whatever you think of his politics, is the best political strategist this country has seen. He will be in power as long as he wants to be in power (or until the party turns on him).
  • We here in the United States will try to teach you how to give the Fraternity the finger. For now... until we've marshaled the strength to put a stake through its dogmatic heart.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @02:00AM (#36891866)

    I have done stream survey on the west coast of British Columbia. I am a fly fisher, and have an intimate knowledge of what is really going on. The truth is that a combination of factors are ruining what was once one of the greatest fisheries on earth. It comes as no surprise that the Tories would try to put a muzzle on anyone trying to ring the alarm bells.

    Intensive ongoing stewardship of the resource is the only possible solution. Yes it is extremely expensive and needs the complete cooperation of all. As things stand we can study the problems till there is no longer a fish problem to study. This is what our federal government would do as it keeps their cronies in work and makes for really good press. The federally funded studies are all centered around how to exploit the the fishing resource more efficiently, not how to preserve it. Every single paper that I have read is centered around a hands off approach to stream management...Let nature heal itself, is the doctrine.

    The truth is that the damage has been done and the only approach that can possibly make a difference over the long term is, the clearing of blocked streams, the enhancement of riparian areas, the improvement and restoration of estuary land that is being gobbled up by our greed for real estate. And first and foremost let the truth about what has occurred be made public.The conservative government of Canada is a short sighted bunch of politicos that could not see the forest for the trees. What is needed is a conservation industry that pays our children back by returning what we and our parents have stolen from them with our short sighted greed!

    • by Nursie (632944)

      Amateur fishermen or commercial fisheries?

      'cos the commercial fisheries are fishing the oceans out at the moment, but if you try and actually get them to do anything about it they bleat about traditional industry and having to make a living. Most of them don't seem to understand that the rate they're going they won't be a fishing industry in a few years either way.

      • by tbannist (230135)

        The people in charge don't care about the fishing industry in the long run. MBAs are taught that long term thinking is thinking about next quarter's results. Frankly, the people who own the fishing companies will sell them when their profits start to fall. The executives running the fishing industry will find jobs elsewhere, where they can maximize short-term profits. This is the problem with capitalism, so many externalities. The fluidity of capital allows the capitalist to ruin the industry he is exp

    • by catchblue22 (1004569) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @02:18AM (#36891952) Homepage

      The truth is that the damage has been done and the only approach that can possibly make a difference over the long term is, the clearing of blocked streams, the enhancement of riparian areas, the improvement and restoration of estuary land that is being gobbled up by our greed for real estate.

      Her research, as far as I have heard seems to indicate a virus propagating in the salmon population. It doesn't seem unlikely that such a virus could be coming from the salmon farms that the wild salmon often have to pass on their way to spawn. Combine that with the very likely fact that salmon farms are a source of sea lice that have been shown to infect wild salmon fry as they pass by, and you have a good argument that salmon farming is a primary cause of the decline in wild stocks of salmon.

      The conservative government seems to not understand an important fact about science and the pursuit of truth, simply that money and the truth are often enemies of each other. If you view the world through dollar signs, you will have a very warped worldview.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Her research, as far as I have heard seems to indicate a virus propagating in the salmon population. It doesn't seem unlikely that such a virus could be coming from the salmon farms that the wild salmon often have to pass on their way to spawn. Combine that with the very likely fact that salmon farms are a source of sea lice that have been shown to infect wild salmon fry as they pass by, and you have a good argument that salmon farming is a primary cause of the decline in wild stocks of salmon.

        I have caught wild Sockeye and they do not suffer from sea lice the way local fish do. And yes the sea lice problem has increased...but so has the effluent from things other than fish farms.

        And yes I agree a productive natural fishery could easily again make chemically stupid fish farming financially ineffective if managed with common sense.

        Deploy the submarines we bought from the British out in the open Pacific and sink the Asian drift net factory ships first...If they ever get the subs out of dry dock...B

  • by redkcir (1431605) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @02:28AM (#36891984) Homepage
    The Privy Council Office. If any of you remember what a Privy is, that should explain it. For those who don't see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privy [wikipedia.org], bullet #4.
    • Privy : Means Private ...

      In this case a group of Ex Cabinet ministers and MP's all appointed by the Prime Minister ...so an arm of the government ...basically a group of politicians

       

      • by gaderael (1081429)

        FLUUUUUUUUSSSSSSH!

      • by Dwonis (52652) *

        Privy : Means Private ...

        In this case a group of Ex Cabinet ministers and MP's all appointed by the Prime Minister ...so an arm of the government ...basically a group of politicians

        In Canada, the Privy Council Office [wikipedia.org] is the means by which the Cabinet exercises its executive power. It isn't so much an "arm" of the government; it *is* the government.

  • From the abstract (Score:5, Interesting)

    by reve_etrange (2377702) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @02:37AM (#36892018)

    Long-term population viability of Fraser River sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is threatened by unusually high levels of mortality as they swim to their spawning areas before they spawn. Functional genomic studies on biopsied gill tissue from tagged wild adults that were tracked through ocean and river environments revealed physiological profiles predictive of successful migration and spawning. We identified a common genomic profile that was correlated with survival in each study. In ocean-tagged fish, a mortality-related genomic signature was associated with a 13.5-fold greater chance of dying en route. In river-tagged fish, the same genomic signature was associated with a 50% increase in mortality before reaching the spawning grounds in one of three stocks tested. At the spawning grounds, the same signature was associated with 3.7-fold greater odds of dying without spawning. Functional analysis raises the possibility that the mortality-related signature reflects a viral infection.

    The DOI is 10.1126/science.1196901.
    The genomic signature that their microarray analysis identified suggests: 1) infection by a virus (virus associated pathways activated), 2) a possible connection to certain leukemias (same reason) and 3) osmotic gradient control malfunctions contributing to stress and mortality (same reason). Apologies to those without access - but Science isn't open - but their methods seem very sound. I really don't see the point of suppressing this. All that media attention would change is how polished her presentation is when that commission or whatever gets around to talking to her.

    P.S. The biopsies were non-lethal!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The entire paper is freely available here: http://homepages.ed.ac.uk/qgjc/2010_2011/Canadian%20Salmon%20genomic%20signature%20Science.pdf

      It's fairly old (February), seems a bit late to be suppressing anything...

  • by jr0dy (943553) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @05:43AM (#36892816) Homepage
    I caught a great documentary one time regarding the way in which he Canadian government is destroying both fish and independent hand-line fishermen - it's called "One More Dead Fish". I highly recommend it - it's a glaring example of Corporatism, outside of US borders for once.
  • You can read the abstract at pubmed:

    Genomic signatures predict migration and spawning failure in wild Canadian salmon. [nih.gov]

    Which gives you a link to sciencemag.org:

    Science Abstract [sciencemag.org]

    Of course, there is a paywall at sciencemag.org. Being as all the researchers are Canadian, there is no NIH requirement for the paper to be released for free. You may need to venture to your local university library to download the paper, but with those links it won't be hard to get. You can get as far as the abstract for free:

    Long-term population viability of Fraser River sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is threatened by unusually high levels of mortality as they swim to their spawning areas before they spawn. Functional genomic studies on biopsied gill tissue from tagged wild adults that were tracked through ocean and river environments revealed physiological profiles predictive of successful migration and spawning. We identified a common genomic profile that was correlated with survival in each study. In ocean-tagged fish, a mortality-related genomic signature was associated with a 13.5-fold greater chance of dying en route. In river-tagged fish, the same genomic signature was associated with a 50% increase in mortality before reaching the spawning grounds in one of three stocks tested. At the spawning grounds, the same signature was associated with 3.7-fold greater odds of dying without spawning. Functional analysis raises the possibility that the mortality-related signature reflects a viral infection.

  • George Bush is now the president of Canada.
  • Whats the law behind that. Nobody can prevent a Journalist from talking to her and i doubt that if the paper was published under her official affiliation there is anything they can do about it. (since, if you go the permission to publish from your employer, what you publish is his position)

  • This man would want to be a dictator. Canada was so so very very wrong to elect his party for leadership. In terms of popular vote, the conservatives did not win a majority. But in terms of ridings, they did. Harper is an image of GWBush. Deny anything that is negative, keep everything possible as secret. Muzzle every public employee. Muzzle his own caucus. I cannot trust the man, based on his public actions. I feel he is not to be trusted.

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