Wednesday, 28 March 2012

More on whether Canada's federal scientists being 'muzzled'?

There is another article on CBC that discusses the issue of whether Canada's federal scientists being 'muzzled'? ... Well perhaps it is a good time to review the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada that took effect on August 1, 2006 replacing the old one from 2002. Read for yourself and decide whether there is a directive from the government that prevents the scientists to talk to the media, especially note article 19 and 20, also copied below: "19. Media Relations
Journalists and other media representatives play an important role in the democratic process - providing the public with news and information about government, and reporting on the public's views and opinions of government. Institutions must cultivate proactive relations with the media to promote public awareness and understanding of government policies, programs, services and initiatives.
Institutions must operate and respond effectively in a 24-hour media environment. They must be able, on short notice, to reach and inform the media on issues of importance to decision-makers and the public. Institutions engage the media using a variety of communication tools, including news conferences, background or technical briefings, news releases, and audio-video presentations.
Institutions must facilitate information or interview requests from the media, and manage plans and strategies for communicating with the media. Institutions must consult their minister's office when planning media campaigns or strategies that could involve ministerial participation, or when preparing a response to a media enquiry that could have implications for the minister.
Institutions must respect the authority and responsibility of Parliament, whose members are entitled to learn about planned legislative initiatives before information about them is released to the media.
Institutions must ensure the quality and consistency of information services provided to the media in both official languages. Media enquiries, whether by phone, email, letter or in person, must be addressed promptly to accommodate publication deadlines.
Institutions must ensure processes and procedures are in place to assist managers and employees in responding to media calls. Communication specialists responsible for media relations ensure that media requests, particularly for interviews or technical information on specialized subjects, are directed to knowledgeable managers or staff designated to speak as official representatives of their institution. (See Requirement 20 for policy direction on spokespersons.)
20. Spokespersons
Ministers are the principal spokespersons of the Government of Canada. They are supported in this role by appointed aides, including executive assistants, communication directors and press secretaries in ministers' offices, and by the senior management teams of government institutions, which include deputy heads, heads of communications and other officials.
Ministers present and explain government policies, priorities and decisions to the public. Institutions, leaving political matters to the exclusive domain of ministers and their offices, focus their communication activities on issues and matters pertaining to the policies, programs, services and initiatives they administer.
An institution's senior management must designate managers and knowledgeable staff in head offices and in the regions to speak in an official capacity on issues or subjects for which they have responsibility and expertise.
Officials designated to speak on an institution's behalf, including technical or subject-matter experts, must receive instruction, particularly in media relations, to carry out their responsibilities effectively and to ensure the requirements of their institution and this policy are met. (See Requirement 19 for policy direction on media relations.)
Spokespersons, particularly senior managers, are often called upon to represent institutions before parliamentary committees and boards of inquiry. To ensure effective communication that respects official protocol, spokespersons must be familiar with Privy Council Office guidelines on appearing before Parliament and other official bodies.
Spokespersons at all times must respect privacy rights, security needs, matters before the courts, government policy, Cabinet confidences and ministerial responsibility. When speaking as an institution's official representative, they must identify themselves by name and position, speak on the record for public attribution, and confine their remarks to matters of fact concerning the policies, programs, services or initiatives of their institution."

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