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Canada’s Union of Federal Scientists Gets Political, Commits to Campaign Against Harper Government

In an absolutely unprecedented move Canada’s Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) announced it will engage in political activity in the lead-up to and during the next federal election.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions,” PIPSC president Debi Daviau said in a press release.

“This government has forced non-partisan organizations such as ours to make a very difficult choice: to remain silent or to speak out. We have chosen to speak out,” added Daviau.

PIPSC, Canada’s largest union of federal government scientists and professionals, represents some 55,000 public sector employees across the country.

The organization says the Harper government’s harsh treatment of union employees is damaging the public sector and the nation’s democracy.

In a recent annual general meeting the group pledged to “take all necessary action to ensure that Canadians are aware of what is at stake in federal public service collective bargaining.”

The group also agreed to “energetically defend and promote federal public services and expose the damage this Conservative government has done to these.”

In addition, the organization is preparing for potential “job action.”

“This government is driving our members down the path to job action,” Daviau said.

“It has launched an unprecedented assault on unions, and other democratically elected organizations in this country. It has cut thousands of federal public service jobs, programs and services. It has targeted, through bills such as C-377, C-525 and last year’s C-4, the very existence of unions and collective bargaining.”

In 2013 PIPSC released a study called The Big Chill that revealed the degree to which federal researchers and scientists were prevented from speaking about their work under the Harper government’s strict communications protocols.

Ninety per cent of federal scientists said they were prevented from speaking freely to the media about their work. Eighty-six per cent said they feared reprimand if they were to speak out against a department decision they found to go against public interest.

In addition, 50 per cent of respondents said they were aware of political interference in the communication of scientific research to the public.

“Canadians deserve to know the damage this government is inflicting – unnecessarily and often underhandedly – to their services, programs and even to their democracy,” concluded Daviau.

Image Credit: Prime Minister Stephen Harper Photo Gallery

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Carol Linnitt is a journalist, editor, illustrator and co-founder of The Narwhal. Carol has been reporting on energy and environmental…

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