Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Recently Retired Government Scientist Speaks Out:

This is sad beyond words.
A recently retired Fisheries and Oceans Canada biologist says the muzzling of federal government scientists is worse than anyone can imagine.

Steve Campana, known for his expertise on everything from Great white sharks to porbeagles and Arctic trout, says the atmosphere working for the federal government is toxic.

"I am concerned about the bigger policy issues that are essentially leading to a death spiral for government science," he said in an exclusive interview.

"I see that is going to be a huge problem in the coming years. We are at the point where the vast majority of our senior scientists are in the process of leaving now disgusted as I am with the way things have gone, and I don't think there is any way for it to be recovered."


  1. It's not just government science that in a death spiral, Lorne, it is our very democracy!

    1. That is so true, Rural, but if we can at least get people to see even only some of the damage Harper has done, it might make a world of difference in October.

  2. I know a couple of mid-level management public servants now nearing retirement age. They both describe working conditions since Harper took over as disturbing and chilling. Morale, I'm told, is in the toilet and they've come to feel as though they're in one never-ending loyalty test. They complain that comraderie among civil servants is now non-existent. The best and brightest, I hear, are heading for the exits.

    1. I hope more tell their tales in retirement before the next election, Mound.

  3. I speak as a government scientist who knows of what Dr. Campana speaks. The squeeze comes from a couple of directions - benign budgetary neglect and active silencing. The budgetary issues are shared by most other government departments
    - attrition of critical personel as scientific staff are lost to the private sector or retirement and are rarely if ever replaced,
    - the similar loss of administrative staff and the downloading of their jobs onto scientific and technical personnel (it is shameful how much time some of us spend doing travel requests and administration)
    - loss of program funding which results in decreased opportunity for data collection or equipment purchases
    - loss of critical infrastructure - technical library closures, loss of oceanographic vessels, etc...
    - loss of travel budgets that have essentially cut many scientists out of the conference loop. This might seem to the outsider like a perk, and in some ways it is, however conferences provide more opportunities to begin important collaborations than any other way I know.

    As for the communications issues, I think Dr. Campana summed it up perfectly. As employees, we are generally allowed to publish scientific journals (with some restrictions to more sensitive projects, I presume), but we are basically not allowed to ever speak with the media, even on the most benign of subjects. This has been brought about by the establishment of the Orwellian-named "Communication" branches within each department whose jobs seem to be the restriction of communication at all costs, and through the establishment of a hush-hush environment that is established from the top down. Also, local regional directors are more and more frequently hired outside of their areas of expertise, as if management is a thing in and of itself and knowledge of the department being managed is of secondary importance.

    I could go on, but you probably get the point.

    1. Thank you for your perspective, Anon. All in all, it sounds like situation that few would envy. The soul-destroying oppressiveness of the regimen you describe must be very hard to take.