We, as taxpayers, have a right to know

Local editorial on objective set of rules for media access to federal scientists.

There’s a joke in the newsroom, probably not just this one, that media in Russia and China probably get more information from their governments than do their counterparts in Canada.

This is because bribing government officials can be a way of freeing up some information that otherwise might be kept secret.

Thankfully, that’s not a practice in Canada, but we have no reason to get too satisfied.

Rarely does a government get slapped twice for its conduct on how it deals with the media, and hence the public, and how it provides, or hides, information from the people who pay its bills.

But that happened recently when the reputable magazine Nature, and in a separate incident the Canadian Science Writers Association, both called on the federal Conservative government to allow more media access to their experts.

In contrast to the U.S., usually a country the government loves to imitate, Ottawa, has tightened rules against talking to the media. Currently, it’s impossible for media to talk to scientists without the OK of public relations officers.

Fisheries secretary and Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Randy Kamp points out almost 400 media interviews were provided by federal scientists last year.

That may be so, but he also pointed out that the government can decide who talks.

That’s  not good enough. What’s needed in Canada, in B.C. as well, is an objective set of rules for media access to scientists.

That way, the public’s right to know is enshrined and open access protected. That will only strengthen our democracy.


– The News



Maple Ridge News