Scientists across Canada rally to protest Harper government

Protesters rallied across the country against the federal government science policies. Mike Le Couteur

TORONTO – Scientists from around the country rallied Monday protesting federal government cuts to scientific programs and the muzzling of scientists.

The “Stand Up for Science” rally, organized by Evidence for Democracy, a group that claims to be “a national, non-partisan, and not-for-profit organization” is calling on the current government for more transparent policies and increased funding.

“It’s time to stand up for science in the public interest in Canada,” reads their protest page.

In Ottawa, dozens of scientists took to Parliament Hill to call for more transparency from the federal government.

For years, the Harper government has been accused of muzzling federal scientists and preventing the media from accessing scientific research in a timely manner.

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The Conservative government policies have attracted worldwide attention including an editorial in the renowned magazine Nature which contrasted the openness of the Obama’s government to that of the new control the Harper government has seemingly put upon its scientists.

There have also been concerns over funding cuts. Under the Conservative government, departments such as Environment Canada has faced deep cuts. In May, the federal government announced that the National Research Council should focus more on practical, commercial science rather than fundamental science that may not have business applications.

On Monday, a National Democratic Party press release stated that the party was tabling a plan to end “conservative muzzling of federal scientists.”

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“The Conservatives have used every tool in their disposal to attack scientific integrity and muzzle scientists working in the civil service,” said MP Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby-Douglas) in the press release. “By interfering with the open communication of scientific research, this government is undermining our capacity to make democratic decisions using the best evidence available.”

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