Friday, May 13, 2016

Transparency in government research

Recently, Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, lifted policies from the previous administration that muzzled the government’s communication with the press and importantly, in my view, silenced government scientists and researchers.

Essentially, scientists and researchers working for the government were prohibited from talking with journalists under Stephen Harper’s regime. A reporter would either have to seek information from the communications office or undergo a burdensome process before getting interview approval. Even then, scientists and researchers were often equipped with scripted talking points.

Access to researchers is important in the world of journalism. In order for us to report accurate information, it is best to go directly to the source. When roadblocks get in the way, we get a watered-down version that fits the narrative of the owner of the information. In this case, the government. Basically, they are writing our story for us.

Transparency in government research is essential for journalists, not to mention citizens to ensure regulations based on that research are truly warranted.

The buzz phrase of the month in Canada now – “transparent government is a good government.”