Demonstrators on Parliament Hill protest research cuts and the government's muzzling of Canadian scientists, 16 September 2013. Photo: Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA, 7 November 2014 (The Canadian Press) – The union representing scientists and other professionals in the federal public service is abandoning its tradition of neutrality in elections to actively campaign against Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) says delegates to its annual general meeting have agreed the union should be more politically active heading into next year's federal election.

In particular, delegates have agreed that the union should energetically expose the damage they believe the Harper government has done to federal public services.

Members of the union have complained bitterly about what they claim is the muzzling of federal scientists and political interference with their work.

The union, which represents some 55,000 professionals in the public service, has traditionally chosen to stay at arm's length from elections.

But union president Debi Daviau says the government's war on labour unions and its cuts to public service jobs have forced a change in strategy.

"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions," Daviau said in a written statement Friday.

"This government has forced non-partisan organizations such as ours to make a very difficult choice: to remain silent or to speak out. We have chosen to speak out." [more]

Canadian Federal Scientists, Professionals Union Launches Anti-Harper Campaign

By Emily Chung
21 October 2013

(CBC News) – Hundreds of federal scientists said in a survey that they had been asked to exclude or alter technical information in government documents for non-scientific reasons, and thousands said they had been prevented from responding to the media or the public.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), which commissioned the survey from Environics Research "to gauge the scale and impact of 'muzzling' and political interference among federal scientists," released the results Monday at a news conference. PIPSC represents 60,000 public servants across the country, including 20,000 scientists, in federal departments and agencies, including scientists involved in food and consumer product safety and environmental monitoring.

In all, the union sent invitations to participate in the survey to 15,398 federal scientists in June. A total of 4,069 responded.

Twenty four per cent of respondents said they “sometimes” or “often” were asked to exclude or alter technical information in federal government documents for non-scientific reasons. Most often, the request came from their direct supervisors, followed by business or industry, other government departments, politically appointed staff and public interest advocates. […]

Gary Corbett, president and CEO of the union, said in many cases, scientists aren’t prevented directly from speaking out, but feel a “broader chill.”

“You don’t have to walk into their office and say no,” he said. “They say themselves, ‘We live in a climate of fear.’” [more]

Muzzling of federal scientists widespread, survey suggests



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