To the editor:
Freedom of expression and access to information are core democratic values to which Canada presumably ascribes.
Two recent cases, however, call into question our current government’s commitment to these values.
The first case is the refusal of the Prime Minister’s Office to allow DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) scientist Kristina Miller to give interviews to the press about a paper she published in the prestigious journal Science. The journal thought the work was so significant they alerted over 7,000 news organizations to its publication.
One would think that the government would be excited by such international recognition of one of its scientists but Canadian government scientists can no longer speak to the press without high level permission and the PMO turned thumbs down on any interviews with Dr. Miller.
The second case concerns Canadian visual artist and educator Franke James, who posts informative and amusing visual essays about environmental issues on her blog. Ms. James had been invited to tour with her work in Europe. She had a corporate sponsor and a local non-governmental organization organizer.
Instead of assisting Ms. James, federal officials have been doing their best to block this tour, including pressuring the corporate sponsor to withdraw its support and the NGO to cancel the tour.
Ms. James’ crime is unclear. She thinks it is that she is critical of the government’s foot dragging on climate change. (See her blog for more information: www.frankejames.com/debate/?cat=370.)
Both cases reflect a shameful meanness of spirit and paranoia that should have no place in Canadian government and are another black mark on our international reputation.
Michael Healey, Peachland