More than 800 foreign scientists urge Canada to loosen funding and freedoms

More than 800 scientists from around the world have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper decrying what they call a rapid decline in funding and freedoms faced by Canadian government scientists.

OTTAWA — More than 800 scientists from around the world have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper decrying what they call a rapid decline in funding and freedoms faced by Canadian government scientists.

Earth to Canada: Science Needs You, says the headline over the letter that was published as an ad published in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.

There are 815 signatories to the letter from 32 countries, including hundreds from the United States, Canada’s largest trading partner and leading science collaborator.

They say complex environmental and public health problems require the full participation of scientists from around the world, but Canadian scientists are missing in action due to budget cuts and constraints on their freedom to travel, communicate and collaborate.

The letter coincides with the Harper government’s science and technology week, which a government website says is designed to inspire youth to science careers and trumpet Canada’s role as a world leader in innovation.

The federal information commissioner is currently investigating the way government communication rules are limiting public access to publicly funded scientific information.

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