Events: Country-wide rallies Stand Up for Science

120710-OttawaDeathofEvidence-PSACM-12The Harper Government’s anti-social agenda has a political aim; depriving Canadians of scientific information by preventing scientists and others from giving their views in interviews, articles and other forms, which violates the right of the public to getting factual and scientific information in a timely manner, and marginalizes Canadians from participating in more fully debating and discussing issues that concern them. Today, thousands of scientists and citizens are again demanding the federal government prioritize science in the public interest.

Evidence for Democracy (September 16) – TODAY, thousands of scientists and concerned citizens participated in rallies across Canada, voicing their concern for the state of science in the public interest. Speakers highlighted that the health of public science impacts all of us and called on the federal government to make transparent, evidence-based decisions for the health and prosperity of all Canadians.

In addition to a large rally in Ottawa, rallies were held from coast to coast including Vancouver, Salmon Arm, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener – Waterloo, Montreal, Fredericton, St. Andrews, and Halifax, making this one of the largest nationwide pro-science rallies in Canadian history.

Speakers highlighted the crucial need for funding basic or fundamental science and allowing federal researchers to communicate their scientific findings freely with the public.

“It was public science that provided compelling evidence that smoking was harmful when tobacco manufacturers were claiming that cigarettes were safe,” said Ottawa-based physician Dr. Kapil Khatter. Applied research and technological innovation have great value, but this cannot come at the expense of science and evidence gathering institutions that provide the data critical to keeping Canadians informed about their health and wellbeing.

Recently, Canada’s federal government has been heavily criticized by the global science community for its strict communication policies imposed on government scientists, de-funding major research public science programs (including the internationally-renown Experimental Lakes Area), and making changes to laws governing fisheries management and crime prevention that are inconsistent with existing scientific evidence.

“It is not too late for this government to provide effective leadership on science,” Dr. Béla Joós, a professor of Physics at the University of Ottawa, told the crowd. “As they prepare for a speech from the throne in October, we hope that they will show their support for public science by making decisions that are informed by the best available evidence, letting government scientists speak to the public and adequately funding science – including basic research.”

This year’s events build on the 2012 ‘Death of Evidence’ gathering on Parliament Hill, marking a mounting concern among Canadians about the state of science in Canada. The rallies were initiated by Evidence for Democracy (E4D), a non-partisan organization advocating for the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making, and supported by groups representing students and scientists including the Canadian Federation of Students and The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.

We will be calling on the Federal government to make a strong commitment to science in the public interest by:

  • Funding scientific research from basic science through to applied.
  • Using the best available science and evidence to make the best decisions.
  • Supporting the open communication of publicly funded science to the public, unless there are demonstrably good reasons for not doing so.

It’s your future – make it your science.

We need your help to make these event a success. The Death of Evidence rally last July had a huge impact. We want to put these issues back in the public eye and let our government know that we demand better science policies. To accomplish this, we need a HUGE turnout at these rallies. Please come to a rally near you, and share this information with your friends and colleagues.

If you’t attend a rally, sign up at evidencefordemocracy.ca to participate by email. We will email you on September 16th with the details.

Background information on the Stand up for Science rallies is available here.

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