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Ottawa's Minister of State for Science downplays criticism

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The Harper government continues to face criticism over their handling of science resources and scientists in general. But the politician in charge of science is brushing off claims Ottawa has prevented scientists from speaking about their work — or worse.

A survey conducted by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada found 34 per cent of over 4000 federal scientists asked feel they’re being prevented from talking to media or the public about their work, and said 24 per cent said they have been asked by the government to alter their findings for non-scientific reasons.

When asked how Ottawa plans to address the survey, Minister of State for Science and Technology Greg Rickford had this to say: “Quite frankly I don’t accept that position or the premise of that question. We continue to place a particular emphasis on basic research.”

In contrast, scientists recently have raised alarms over the dismantling of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries, with materials reportedly being destroyed without being digitized.

Rickford, however, says “what scientists are doing is celebrating the government’s commitment to research, development and innovation,” adding, “[Canada’s] strength in basic research, the important work our scientists do, that includes government science, is intended to be fully integrated, contribute to our economy and increase the quality of life for Canadians.”

The survey also found half of the scientists who answered the survey knew of cases where political interference has compromised health and safety of Canadians, or environmental sustainability.