The Canadian War on Science: Updates to the chronology of the Conservative government's anti-science actions

How bad is it? Even the New York Times has noticed what is going on with Canadian science, comparing the situation here unfavourably with the situation in the US under George W. Bush.

It began badly enough in 2008 when scientists working for Environment Canada, the federal agency, were told to refer all queries to departmental communications officers. Now the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change, fisheries and anything to do with the Alberta tar sands — source of the diluted bitumen that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Journalists find themselves unable to reach government scientists; the scientists themselves have organized public protests.

There was trouble of this kind here in the George W. Bush years, when scientists were asked to toe the party line on climate policy and endangered species. But nothing came close to what is being done in Canada.

Science is the gathering of hypotheses and the endless testing of them. It involves checking and double-checking, self-criticism and a willingness to overturn even fundamental assumptions if they prove to be wrong. But none of this can happen without open communication among scientists. This is more than an attack on academic freedom. It is an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.

So, once more into the breach with a series of 52 additions to my main list. Please note that the original post is still the most complete and authoritative and that I'm using this post as a way of starkly illustrating just how many new items I was able to find (with the crowdsourced help of all of you out there) in a few short months.

The response to that post has been incredibly gratifying. Please see my #altmetrics post for a slightly out of date list of all the reactions.



As I did with the first post, to facilitate the free and open spread of information, please consider this post CC0. To the extent possible under law, I am waiving all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this post, The Canadian War on Science: Updates to the chronology of Conservative government's anti-science actions. This work is published from Canada.

And lest people despair too much, there is a broadly based movement to draw attention to the cuts and closures such as the July Death of Evidence rallies and the more recent Stand Up for Science rallies across the country.

Some of the relevant organizations and movements standing up for science in Canada are:

And finally, I would like to draw everyone's attention to Chris Turner's book The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper's Canada . I am reading it right now and will review it here soon. I'm sure I'll also find some new items in the book for the next update.

Once again, the complete list is here.

And as usual, if there are any errors, omissions, duplications, etc. in either list, please let me know in the comments or at jdupuis at yorku dot ca.


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I read Chris Turner's book, "The War on Science", and believe it is a MUST READ for every household in Canada!! Even if one is somewhat aware of the sneaky policy changes carried out by the Canadian federal government in the last ten years, the book clearly details the slow disintegration of healthy, democratic process in this country. Think: FROG IN THE POT OF BOILING WATER!!

By Penny Oyama (not verified) on 26 Sep 2014 #permalink