Statement

Statement on Scientists speaking to media

OTTAWA, Ont. -- October 1, 2010 -- As the Assistant Deputy Minister for Science and Technology at Environment Canada, I would like to respond to concerns that our scientists are being “muzzled”. The Government of Canada, like any other large, professionally-managed organization, has a process for responding to media and all other public inquiries in a timely, orderly manner.

Scientists at Environment Canada follow the same media relations policy as everyone else in the department and in all other government departments. It is rooted in the democratic role of the public service to assist the Minister of the Environment to serve the public interest.

Environment Canada receives requests for information from across Canada and around the world every year. The questions we receive may seem straightforward; however, answers can be complex, and cross into different areas of the department, or into multiple areas of science. News media deadlines are always tight, but the reality is that it can take time to coordinate and provide an accurate, non-technical response.  It is important to provide scientific explanations which are not oversimplified or taken out of context.  Overall, we do a pretty good job responding to requests from media for scientific information, in fact this year we met 80% of reporter’s deadlines and were able to respond to 98% of the requests.

I am proud to say that Environment Canada’s scientists and researchers include Nobel Prize winners, Members of the Order of Canada and Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada. We have some of the best and brightest minds in the field of environmental science.  

Environment Canada proactively communicates our scientific work in many ways. Canadians can sign up for alerts to new information on the science section of our departmental webpages (www.ec.gc.ca/scitech).   They can sign up for our free science newsletters Water Science News and Wildlife and Landscape Science News.  Our webpage, S&T into Action to Benefit Canadians, demonstrates how science and technology is generating tangible environmental, social and economic benefits, and how science has influenced and improved the environmental decision-making process.  Our ‘Science is Benefiting You’ series of videos on www.science.gc.ca/videos explains our water, air, weather and climate science work.  We also have a departmental publishing policy with a dedicated science and technology annex, the focus of which is to encourage and assist our scientists in publishing their peer-reviewed research papers.

For those who seek information on the scientific expertise in our department, or want to locate our research papers and peer-reviewed articles, there is an S&T Expert section on our website.

Environment Canada is committed to sharing information with all Canadians about what’s happening in the environment around them. We welcome the interest of Canadians in our environment and look forward to opportunities to engage with them.

Brian T. Gray, Ph.D.,
Assistant Deputy Minister, Science and Technology Branch
Environment Canada