Research policy and funding is a federal election issue.
Political ideology and business interests are driving the federal government’s research policy and funding agenda. Thousands of academic staff, librarians, and research scientists across Canada are calling for a different approach. Ask candidates what they are choosing to do in order to Get Research Right.
Choosing to muzzle scientists
Media protocols for federal scientists and other government workers introduced over the past years have prevented research scientists from discussing published, peer-reviewed literature and studies on topics ranging from prehistoric floods, the Arctic Ozone hole, snow research in Ontario, and even a novel critical of environmental policies. According to Environment Canada, government policy has led to a dramatic reduction in the number of news stories on climate change by over 80% between 2007 and 2008.
Funding research: who decides?
More and more CEOs and politicians, instead of peer researchers and scholars, are deciding what research projects are worth funding. The Federal Government has chosen to increase funding for industry-related research, decrease funding to granting councils, and change the way grants are awarded.
Choosing to cut programs and staff
The federal government is also choosing to cut staff and programs that support and facilitate research in Canada. Library staff and programs have been cut, and precious library materials dumped, burned, or scavenged by private consultants.
Through Health Canada, it has chosen to cut funding for the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO).
It’s about choice.
Federal research policy: the closing of the Canadian mind?
In an August 14 Op-Ed in The New York Times entitled The Closing of the Canadian Mind a novelist and columnist for Esquire Magazine, Stephen Marche, describes his view of the Federal Conservative Government’s approach to the sharing of information and provides some examples of that approach in action.
Marche describes this approach as a consistent limiting of the Canadian public’s capacity to understand what its Government is doing, with this Government’s war on science even more damaging to our capacity to understand. De-funding research centres, gagging environmental scientists and ending the mandatory long-form census have all contributed to a “slow-motion erosion” of Canada’s reputation for open, responsible government.
It’s about choice.
“We have somehow deemed it OK or permissible for an Iron Curtain to be drawn across the communication of science in this country.”Jeffrey Hutchings, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Dalhousie University