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'Muzzled' Science

The Canadian federal information commissioner is investigating complaints that media access to government scientists has been restricted, reports the Vancouver Sun. Both the University of Victoria Environmental Law Clinic and Democracy Watch, a non-profit organization, filed a complaint with Suzanne Legault, the information commissioner, arguing that government media policies violated the Access to Information Act, the Nature News Blog adds.

"There are few issues more fundamental to democracy than the ability of the public to access scientific information produced by government scientists … Yet the attached report shows that the federal government is preventing the media and the Canadian public from speaking to government scientists for news stories," the groups say in their letter, referencing a report they generated called "Muzzling Civil Servants: A Threat to Democracy?" The letter adds that the "muzzling" especially affects researchers whose work "runs counter to current Government policies on matters such as environmental protection, oil sands development, and climate change."

The office of the information commissioner has notified seven agencies that it plans to investigate such complaints, the Vancouver Sun adds.