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During the nine-year Stephen Harper administration in Canada, government scientists there ran into roadblocks when trying to speak with the media, but these policies are now loosening, Nature News reports.

"It was an incredible rigmarole to try and get the most innocuous bit of information to media or the public," says Diane Lake, who was then a communications officer with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

With the new Justin Trudeau administration, the communication lines are slowly opening at many agencies, though not always as fast as some had hoped. Still, this ability to speak freely, Nature News adds, also reveals how tightly communication was controlled and the effect that had on government researchers.

For instance, in 2011, Kristi Miller-Saunders, a geneticist at the fisheries agency, and colleagues outside the government had a paper come out in Science on why sockeye salmon in British Columbia might be dying. Even though the journal released the paper early under embargo to journalists so they could seek comment, Lake was unable to get approval for Miller-Saunders to speak to the press. Further, when Miller-Saunders later was testifying as part of the Cohen Commission that examined sockeye salmon management, she was kept in a room with a media officer, a bodyguard, and her family when she wasn't testifying. She was not allowed to speak with the media, although the university scientists on the commission could.

This crackdown, Nature News reports, led a number of researchers and communications officers to leave or retire early, including Lake.

But with new, more transparent policies, the culture may change, though slowly. "Practices often lag the policy," Gretchen Goldman, an analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, says.