In the wake of recent demonstrations by government scientists “over increasingly restrictive communication policies, growing concerns over cuts to crucial government research and monitoring programs, and reduced funding for basic scientific research,” Evidence for Democracy
In the wake of recent demonstrations by government scientists “over increasingly restrictive communication policies, growing concerns over cuts to crucial government research and monitoring programs, and reduced funding for basic scientific research,” Evidence for Democracy has launched the “Science Pledge” campaign, which asks Members of Parliament, candidates, organizations and citizens “to pledge their support for science and evidence-based government decision-making.”
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The official launch took place June 16 at a press conference at Parliament Hill, where three MPs from different political parties signed on, including Liberal MP Marc Garneau; NDP MP and Official Opposition Science and Technology Critic Kennedy Stewart; and Green Party MP and Leader Elizabeth May.
Leading up to the federal election, Evidence for Democracy is promoting two policy priorities to improve public-interest science and evidence-based decision-making: implementing a new government-wide communications policy to ensure that government scientists can speak publicly about their research, and creating a new federal science office to advise decision makers.
“Scientists are now supporting this issue publicly,” said Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy. “To my knowledge this is the first time Canadian scientists have mobilized to promote science as a federal election issue.”
“The trends we’ve seen in recent years – funding cuts to science, government scientists not being able to speak about their work, and decisions that appear to play fast and loose with scientific evidence – are deeply troubling to many in the scientific community,” said Scott Findlay, Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Ottawa and Evidence for Democracy Board member. “Their concerns are, in turn, giving rise to more widespread public concerns, about the science necessary to ensure healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy environments and healthy economies.”
As our recent special issue Canada’s Map to Sustainability shows, researchers across the country are working on many of the solutions we need. And while organizations such as the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and people like Dr. John O’Connor presently bear the risks of speaking out to protect the health of Canadian citizens, the policy provisions Evidence for Democracy is calling for would allow their findings to be expressed openly.
You can sign the pledge at evidencefordemocracy.ca.