Edmonton scientists and allies oppose Harper attacks on science

 

Posters at Ottawa rally held on Sept. 16 to oppose the politicization of science by the Harper government

Posters at Ottawa rally held on Sept. 16 to oppose the politicization of science by the Harper government

TML Daily – EDMONTON scientists and their allies participated in a very lively public meeting on October 23 at the Alberta Art Gallery under the title “Get Science Right.” The meeting, attended by about 120 people, was organized by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) as part of a series of ongoing Canada-wide regional town halls aimed at providing an opportunity for the public and scientists to look at what is happening in science and research, and discuss what should be done to improve the situation in the interests of the people.[1]

The Edmonton meeting featured a question and answer session involving a prestigious panel consisting of Dr. David Schindler, internationally renowned Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta (U of A) and founder of the Experimental Lakes Area Project[2]; Hanne Ostergaard, Professor of Medical Microbiology & Immunology at the U of A; Nils Petersen, Professor of Chemistry at the U of A and former Director General of the National Institute for Nanotechnology; and Stephen Slemon, Professor of English & Film Studies at U of A and President of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English.

All the speakers made a number of important points, focusing on how both the Harper and Redford governments are attacking science to serve private interests. Key issues that were emphasized included cuts to funding of important programs and scientists, which have the potential to inform decision-making on major challenges requiring scientific solutions, steering funding toward areas targeted as priorities by the governments providing the funding and their industry backers, increasing funding for commercial research at the expense of basic research (which does not yet have a specific application in view), appointment of more industry and political figures to boards of granting councils, muzzling of federal scientists, and arbitrary rejection of scientific findings that do not support government agendas. All the speakers firmly stated that governments at all levels must greatly increase their support for science that first and foremost serves the public interest.

Endnotes

1. CAUT is the national voice of 68,000 academic and general staff at universities and colleges across the country. For more information on CAUT’s “Get Science Right” Campaign visit getscienceright.ca.

2. The Harper government is cancelling the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program, which focuses on research aimed at stopping threats to Canada’s freshwater. Dr. Schindler is a member of a group of scientists and their allies calling themselves Save ELA. For more information visit saveela.org.

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