BC government’s misuse of science condemned

NANAIMO, 21 APRIL 2002: The BC government’s misuse of science was condemned today in an open letter to Minister of Water, Land, and Air Protection Joyce Murray. The letter was signed by well over 100 organizations, scientists, and concerned individuals, including representatives from labour, environmental, First Nations, and social justice groups. “The government is manipulating science, even silencing scientists, to serve its own agenda,” says Laurie MacBride, Executive Director of the Georgia Strait Alliance.

The letter, written in consultation with prominent scientists and experts in environmental and health protection, describes four (4) important ways the provincial government is improperly using science:

the government lays off scientists or ignores their input,
the government moves forward with policies that cry out for further research even while refusing to participate in, or to demand, the required science,
the government manipulates science, even silencing scientists, to serve its own agenda,
the government uses science selectively, carefully choosing the questions so that the answers are foregone conclusions.
The open letter cites examples, including workplace cigarette smoke, offshore oil drilling, fish farming, grizzly bear hunting, and regulation of pulp mill waste.

“At a minimum, the government should commit to the recommendations of the Public Service Employees for Environmental Ethics,” said MacBride. The recommendations say that:

science review processes must be open, so that the public has input into the entire process;
specialists involved should come from an appropriate cross-section of disciplines and sectors, including governments and environmental organizations; and
science review should be a valuable part of policy formulation, but not to the exclusion of public input on a wide range of factors.
The letter states that good government requires an open process “with public input and independent science, not sleight-of-hand manipulation to suit the government’s political agenda”.

The letter concludes, “This government is acting in bad faith,” and says its lack of respect for critical scientific, health and environmental issues is, in the long run, bad for people, the environment, and business.

The full text of the letter can be found here.