The Canadian War on Science: More updates to the chronology of the Conservative government’s anti-science actions

It has been a year since I last updated my chronological listing of the Harper Conservative government's war on science. The newly updated master list is here, where you can also read more about this project in general. The previous update from October 2013 is here. Some preliminary metrics about the impact of that original post in the wider world are here.

This update contains 140 new incidents, mostly from between the last update and now. They have been integrated into the master list.

Some notes.

Many of the incidents I list are programs or locations that have sustained significant budget cuts or closure. It has been noted that some of these programs may have deserved their fate. I acknowledge that not all government programs or institutions are equally effective. From my perspective, the point isn't to judge whether or not a program deserved to be cut or eliminated. I don't have access to the kinds of internal or external assessment documents that would be needed to even attempt this across such a large number of cases. Never mind that it's very likely those assessments would themselves be highly contested among the various stakeholders. I can only list what I can document has happened. And given the sheer numbers, it's unlikely all these programs deserved their fate.

It has also been noted that sometimes the links I use to document incidents are no longer accessible. I plan to address this retrospectively for the master list in a future update. For this update, I have tried to include multiple sources for as many of the new incidents as possible. These additional link may sometime duplicate each other; this is in hopes that some redundancies will help with the link rot problem. The additional links are also an opportunity to include links that followup, explain or elaborate upon the main link.

From the Fifth Estate's excellent episode on the war on science, The Silence of the Labs, here's a very long list of Federal programs and research facilities that have been shut down or had their funding reduced. I haven't gone through the whole list yet and found online sources of documentation but that will be part of the next update.

While this update has mostly focused on the period since the last update in October 2013, I have added some retrospective items to the list. However, the next update will focus much more on that kind of retrospective updating. Among other sources, I intend to use the recent Paul Wells book The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006- and especially Chris Turner's wonderful The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper's Canada (my review).

For those that are interested, I have started maintaining a tumblr blog of candidate items for these updates, Tracking the Canadian War on Science. I'll be recording various media reports of the government's anti-science actions as well as highlighting more general items about Canadian science policy in the Harper era. I'm hoping that neither this chronology not that tracking project will be needed for more than another year or so.

And now the updates:



As I did with both the initial post and the first update, 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 Death of Evidence rallies and the more recent Stand Up for Science rallies across the country. My own institution held a Death of Evidence mock funeral in October 2013 to draw attention to the situation.

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

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. My non-work email is dupuisj at gmail dot com for those that prefer that option.


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Lots of info here, thanks! Staggering is an understatement. I will pass this post on to some people still "too busy to have yet seen the light" re Harper's War.

When might the CRA come a knocking?

Thanks for your work keeping people like me up to date on cuts to Science. I was heavily involved in the Save ELA campaign and the circular, baseless, illogical statements which came out of Mr. Rickford's mouth (our MP) was astounding--everything from calling critics "mean spirited" to suggesting that a new ELA could be quickly built (also suggesting that the ELA was like a military unit which could be re-deployed), to claiming that he and his government had actually "saved" ELA from the closure the Harper government engineered.

By Peter Kirby (not verified) on 06 May 2015 #permalink