Update: After a full day of debate on government science integrity, the motion failed to pass with a vote of 145 to 119. 

Thanks to all of the attention last week to the challenges government scientists are facing, MPs will debate a motion to bring science integrity back to government scientists TODAY.

Liberal Science and Technology critic, Ted Hsu, has put forward a motion to:

  1. end the government’s silencing of government scientists;
  2. create a new portal to allow publicly-funded science to get to the public; and
  3. create a new Chief Science Officer.

Passing this motion would be huge step in the right direction!

Federal government scientists play an important role in keeping Canadians safe and healthy by providing their expertise to both the public and decision-makers. When scientists communicate directly with the media, we all gain a better understanding of how science is being used for government decision-making, are better able to hold our government accountable, and are able to make informed decisions in our day-to-day lives.

Over the past several years, Canadian scientists working in the federal government have experienced a substantial shift in the way they can communicate their research. Reports of widespread censorship and delayed access to Canadian government scientists have been covered in prominent national and international media. Extensive coverage and concern has even prompted the Information Commissioner of Canada to pursue an investigation, currently ongoing, into the alleged muzzling of scientists.

This motion will keep this issue in the national spotlight and, if it passes, will go a long way to improve government science and make sure it is openly communicated to the public.

Here is the full text of the motion:

That, in the opinion of the House:
(a) the government has constrained the ability of federal scientists to share their research and to collaborate with their peers; (b) federal scientists have been muzzled and prevented from speaking to the media about their work; (c) research is paid for by taxpayers and must be done in the public interest in order to protect the environment and the health and safety of Canadians; and, therefore, (d) the government should immediately rescind all rules and regulations that muzzle government scientists, consolidate government-funded or -created science so that it is easily available to the public at large through a central portal, create a Chief Science Officer whose mandate would include ensuring that government science is freely available to those who are paying for it, namely, the public, and allow scientists to be able to speak freely on their work with limited and publicly stated exceptions.