Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Royal Society of Canada Tells Harper to Unshackle Our Scientists

The President of the Royal Society of Canada, Yolande Grise, warns that the relationship between public policy and science is broken within the Harper regime.

Policy and science are in a mutual relationship based on the importance given by government to scientific advice in policy development, and the recognition by scientists that government decisions are made democratically and must take into account evidence beyond that provided by the scientific community.

For this relationship to work, scientists have a responsibility to act ethically and to communicate their findings to the broader community. Science works only when discoveries made in the lab or in the field are communicated and debated, not only to other researchers but to all stakeholders. Governments, in turn, have to respect scientific advice and not impede the dissemination of scientific knowledge.

Scientists and the federal government can be at odds when government policy does not appear to be well-aligned with the best scientific advice. That tension is often constructive: For example, a 2010 report by scientists providing evidence that oil sands activity was polluting the Athabaska River led to several levels of government taking a fresh look at the monitoring practices and activity of the industry in the region.

This relationship is now at risk in Canada. Unreasonable limits are being placed on the ability of government-employed scientists to communicate their findings, whether through publication of their research results or attendance at scientific meetings. These restrictions seem particularly severe in topics related to the environment, where several government scientists have been denied the opportunity to discuss their work.

Canada will only succeed as a country if it’s able to harness the best scientific advice to make decisions. The federal government should immediately unshackle government scientists and let them do their jobs. The integrity of evidence-based public policy development is at stake.


Anonymous said...

As long as the extremist Reform party nut jobs retain power, science will have no place in government.

Anonymous said...

Harper did declare himself a devout Christian, on his x-mas interview. That's a good thing to hide behind. Harper was Policy Chief for his, Northern Foundation Party from 1989. He was linked with Christian Fundamentalists, back then too. I read, Harper's religion does not believe, in climate change and global warming.

Dictators are paranoid, they must control everything they can get their hands on. Media is the most important to control. Scientists were not permitted to publish their papers. Everything had to go through Harper first. Harper got rid of Canada's top scientists. He got rid of the Research Station in the high North. Anything negative about the tar sands, is not permitted. They all had to go. Harper has his own scientists, they are the only ones permitted to study the tar sands and the Enbridge pipeline. Harper said. His Scientists not politics, will judge the Enbridge pipeline.

I would love to force feed Harper. The deformed fish in Athabasca Lake. Force Harper to drink from the Mighty Athabasca River, just downstream from the tar sands. There is Mercury, heavy metals and cancer causing agents, in that river. Harper should be force fed, the poisoned Caribou and Buffalo. There were 500 birds that landed in the tar sands grunge. The courts ruled? It was the birds fault, for landing in it.

It's as they say. Man is the most destructive animal on earth and, the most stupid one at that.

The Mound of Sound said...

I wish more Canadians realized that we truly are in the iron grip of a faith-based government completely unhesitant to suppress science whenever and for so long as that suits its purposes.

Harper doesn't see the public service as working for Canadians, despite his many television ads to that effect. To the Harper government the public service, like the armed services, work for him. By gagging them he has transformed them into his partisan political agencies... all on the taxpayer's dime.

And where are the media on all this? Oh they put up a temper tantrum at the outset but then they realized this was the way business was to be done in Ottawa and capitulated. That was all fine and dandy to Canada's corporate media cartel.

It was up to Canada's journalistic giants to fight for our media freedom and they've folded. Keep that in mind the next time you read some puffery from Coyne or Ivison or the rest of them. They didn't lose press freedom. They never fought for it at all.