This election, don’t let science stay silenced. With the media abuzz with stories about scientists being muzzled, researchers all over Canada are rallying to make science an election issue.
Science plays a critical role in policy. There are many factors at play, including social and economic impact, but when evidence is not included in the discussion, it’s easy for bias and politics to cloud our judgement. Aside from government interference with communicating research results to the press, Canadian scientists are also increasingly excluded from privately advising policy makers. Most notably, the elimination of the National Science Advisor role in 2008 closed an important line of communication between scientists and the Canadian government. The Liberals, NDP and Green Party have all vowed to reinstate the role of National Science Advisor if elected.
Here at Research2Reality, we believe that research is at the core of innovation, and sharing these exciting discoveries that impact daily lives is our mission. In her column published in Nature, science journalist Kathryn O’Hara remarks, “Forget excitement, it’s hard to even maintain public trust in taxpayer-funded research when scientists are not allowed to explain their work.” It’s disheartening to see these Canadian research stories buried or re-written. These are a few of the top reasons why voters should be concerned about the current state of science in Canada:
- Canada is now the only G7 country that does not have a national science advisor, cutting vital ties between science and policy
- The long form census is no longer mandatory, decreasing participation and diminishing the value of the remaining data collected
- Changes in policy have been criticized for eroding environmental protections, in particular with respect to our waterways
- 5,000 science-related jobs have been eliminated, and major science facilities and archives have been closed, reducing Canada’s capacity for research and innovation
- Media liaisons are sent to strictly monitor scientists at conferences, and studies of media policies found far more government restrictions on Canadian scientists as compared to their American counterparts
- 90% of scientists feel that they cannot speak freely to the press, and 25% have been forced by the government to change their research results for non-scientific reasons
ASAPScience comments on The War On Science
Maclean’s recently released a list of the top 10 election issues that its readers prioritized, finding that the number one policy chosen by readers was to make government-funded science available to the public.
Read the official party platforms released this week. Find out where your MP stands on issues that are important to you. See whether your candidate has openly pledged a commitment to science.
CBC’s The Fifth Estate Documentary, Silence of the Labs
No matter who has your vote, please get out there to the polls and make your opinion count. Register to vote online. Find your polling station. If you won’t be available on October 19, get to the advance polls. And don’t forget to bring your ID – two pieces if your primary ID does not show your current address. Join our event on Facebook to be part of the conversation.
Voting hours across Canada (all times local):
Newfoundland Time: 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Atlantic Time: 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Eastern Time: 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Central Time*: 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Mountain Time*: 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Pacific Time: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.