Let Scientists Speak

The Green Party of Canada is calling on the Minister of Fisheries, Keith Ashfield to un-muzzle scientists in the wake of fisheries scientist Kristi Miller being prevented from speaking to the press.  “We have a world-class scientist in Kristi Miller and her research is incredibly important to our salmon populations and yet she is unable to grant interviews to the press,” said Green Leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands Elizabeth May.  “This is totally unacceptable.  Miller’s work has been published in Science, one of the world’s most prestigious journals, and yet the public is being blocked from learning about her research.”

“As a nation, we should be terribly concerned about crashing salmon populations and we should have access to the research of our own government scientists that can help us to fix this problem,” said Green Fisheries Critic Janice Harvey.  “The entire convoluted process that government scientists have to jump through to access media is completely ridiculous.”

Kristi Miller leads a salmon genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.  She has been researching possible genetic factors associated with increased death rates of sockeye salmon.  After her research started to gain worldwide attention, the Privy Council Office ordered her not to speak publicly and prevented any interviews by journalists.

“Muzzling Kristi Miller is unfortunately part of a larger pattern of the Harper government silencing scientists from all departments, preventing any information from reaching the public.  Any information that does emerge is carefully screened and scripted by political communications officers in Ottawa,” said May.

Elizabeth May has pledged her support to the Canadian Science Writers’ Association who are working to end the muzzling of Canadian government scientists.