The Canadian war on public science, basic research and the free and open exchange of scientific information

You would think that such apple pie issues as public science, basic research and the free and open exchange of scientific information would be hard to disagree with. You would think that a resolution in the Canadian parliament would to such effect would meet with resounding support, resulting in a unanimous vote, the room resounding with shouted Yays.

You would think that anyone who would vote nay to such a resolution would be a virtual pariah in an open democratic society, a society that values an informed citizenry and evidence-based decision making.

Apparently you would be wrong. Apparently Canada has become some sort of Mirror Universe when red is green, good is evil, war is peace, science is superstition, sharing is wrong, communication is risky and silence is speech.

Here is a resolution in the Canadian House of Commons from Wednesday, March 20, 2013. It was sponsored by Kennedy Stewart of the NDP, the MP for Burnaby—Douglas in BC.

That, in the opinion of the House: (a) public science, basic research and the free and open exchange of scientific information are essential to evidence-based policy-making; (b) federal government scientists must be enabled to discuss openly their findings with their colleagues and the public; and (c) the federal government should maintain support for its basic scientific capacity across Canada, including immediately extending funding, until a new operator is found, to the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility to pursue its unique research program.

The motion was defeated 157 to 137, with the NDP and Liberals all supporting and every single Conservative voting Nay. Including the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

And most damningly, including Gary Goodyear, the Minister of State for Science & Technology.

The Minister of State for Science and Technology effectively voted against:

  • the free and open exchange of scientific information
  • evidence-based policy-making
  • federal government scientists must be enabled to discuss openly their findings
  • federal government should maintain support for its basic scientific capacity across Canada
  • the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility

And don't get me started on muzzling librarians. Which now that I think of it, is likely the next post.
     
And here are some of my recent posts about the Harper government's war on information in general and science in particular:

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