Friday, July 17, 2015
It Happened - Yesterday - At the Dog Park
I took my little beagle down to the dog park yesterday so he could run and run and run. I swear he'll outrun any dog on the planet and just keep going.
People would come, run their dogs for a while, and leave. The little guy didn't want to go so we stayed for a total of well over two hours.
At one point a van pulled up and the owner got out with his dog. He came in and sat down at the little picnic table and we started chatting as strangers do. The conversation started getting into some interesting stuff and this fellow was obviously knowledgeable.
Eventually it emerged that he's a federal research scientist. What he told me gives me cause not to describe him in any detail that might give his identity away.
One thing we discussed is what it's like being a scientist in today's public service. I mentioned the CBC's ill-fated attempt to interview the top guy on drought research only to find, when they showed up, that he wasn't permitted to discuss drought or even use the word.
My new friend quite dispassionately confirmed the worst of what we've been hearing - how the public service has been sequestered from the very public they're supposed to serve - how government scientists are no longer in the traditional advisory role but now are expected to find things that comport with the government's political narrative or keep their thoughts, and their science, to themselves - how it's almost impossible to collaborate with scientists from other countries because Harper and Co. insist on a veto on publication, a term others simply cannot accept. These are all things we've heard many times before.
What I wasn't prepared for was this fellow's jarring assessment that a change of government won't fix what Harper has broken. He said the damage is too deep, too much science has been buried, destroyed or lost. Worse yet, he added, was that too many of the best minds have moved on. They're gone, either of their own choice or the government's, and they won't be coming back. They're done. That core, so methodically built up over the decades, is wrecked. It'll take decades more to build it all over again. It can't be fixed. We'll have to start pretty much from scratch.
Mein Gott. The damage that bastard has done.