We have previously criticized the federal government for its heavy-handed approach in controlling what is said to media by scientists working for Canada.
The results of a poll by Environics Research Group published Monday make clear the problem is both worse and more widespread than we had imagined.
The online survey was commissioned by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada and took place in June. Four thousand scientists took part - about 26 per cent of the government's scientific workers - and the results are said to accurately reflect the opinions of all government scientists within 1.6 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
The poll's response size convincingly establishes that this poll is not of the "hamburger" variety and merits serious consideration. The startling - and depressing - results show that more than 70 per cent of the respondents believe the government is not using the best scientific evidence to develop laws and policies.
Worse: Almost 25 per cent said they had been asked to alter or exclude scientific information in federal documents. Sixtyseven per cent of DFO scientists and 59 per cent of Environment Canada scientists said they knew of cases where their department had suppressed information, leaving the public with misleading or inaccurate information.
Eighty-eight per cent of respondents supported improved whistleblower protection to better serve the public. That idea makes sense scientifically, statistically and ethically.
Unfortunately, that would seem like three reasons for the Conservatives not to consider such legislation.
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