Silence of the Labs


Scientists across Canada are expressing growing alarm that federal cutbacks to research programs monitoring areas that range from climate change and ocean habitats to public health will deprive Canadians of crucial information.

“What’s important is the scale of the assault on knowledge, and on our ability to know about ourselves and to advance our understanding of our world,” said James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

In the past five years the federal government has dismissed more than 2,000 scientists, and hundreds of programs and world-renowned research facilities have lost their funding. Programs that monitored things such as smoke stack emissions, food inspections, oil spills, water quality and climate change have been drastically cut or shut down.

The fifth estate requested interviews with two senior bureaucrats and four cabinet ministers with responsibility for resources, the environment and science. All of those requests were denied.

On Tuesday, the fifth estate received a statement from the office of Greg Rickford, Minister of State for Science and Technology, and the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario.

"Our government has made record investments in science," it stated. "We are working to strengthen partnerships to get more ideas from the lab to the marketplace and increase our wealth of knowledge. Research is vibrant and flourishing right across the country."

But members of the scientific community disagree. CBC’s the fifth estate spoke to scientists across the country who are concerned that Canadians will suffer if their elected leaders have to make policy decisions without the benefit of independent, fact-based science.

Written By: CBC News
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  1. PM Harper is a fundie who doesn’t believe in science. None of this is a surprise…it’s just nauseating.

  2. Hey, Canadians get what they deserve. They elected that fundy shill, they knew him for years in a minority government – so fuck them.
    It is too bad that this government will set back research for years – the emphasis will be on “applied research” meaning if we don’t do basic research we have to rely on others – and some of it like the climate research pertaining to our country will not get done, period. Libraries will get lost, but what the fuck – praise the Lord and unrestrained capitalism.
    Harper is the Tea party Rep in Canada – (“there are no good taxes”) but he was elected by a stupid majority who does not deserve better.

  3. Of course they’re cutting back funding. We all know global warming is happening, and we all know we’re causing it, so why keep rubbing it in?

  4. In reply to #2 by kraut:

    Hey, Canadians get what they deserve …

    Blame Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system. That, along with a disfunctional Liberal party allowed the Tories to split the opposition vote and gain a majority in the last election.

    And the liberals response? They elect, (anoint?) as leader a political lightweight whose only claim to fame is that he happens to be the son of someone famous. They had a bunch of solid, respected candidates from which to choose. I really despair sometimes.

    Hopefully Canadians will give the NDP a shot at governing – they certainly deserve it.

  5. In reply to #2 by kraut:

    Hey, Canadians get what they deserve. …he was elected by a stupid majority who does not deserve better.

    It’s true that Canadians are to blame for sticking Canada with Harper and his re-branded Reformers, but to be fair, he was not elected by a majority of the citizens, or even the majority of the voters. The other parties got a majority of the votes, but those votes were split amongst them.

    The majority of Canadians vote to the left of the minority that vote Conservative, but they don’t agree on who to vote for. Let’s hope john.wb is right… “Hopefully Canadians will give the NDP a shot at governing – they certainly deserve it.”

  6. There seems to be an increasing similarity between Canada and Australia, both elect right wing leaders and now both leaders are going out of their way to cut scientific funding.

  7. This is a classic case. It clearly shows us the effect of dogmatic politics, and what happens when politicians who don’t employ critical thinking, gain power.

    Note how it is not necessary for the governing politicians to refer to the electorate. When they’re in a minority government they also grab every opportunity – because they don’t know how long it will last.

    This is the major failing of so-called ‘representative democracy’ – it is pretty clear that these politicians are neither representative of Canadians nor democratic.

    If the Canadian Government is taking advice (as is suggested) from the likes of Peter Phillips:

    … it is not the role of government scientists to speak out to the public, but rather work behind the scenes to advise politicians. It is up to the politicians to make decisions, and the voters will hold them to account …

    … they are actually anti-democratic. Phillips comment is completely backwards and is a true-life example of Newspeak. It is the role of every public servant – with the possible exception of those dealing in defence and intelligence matters – to speak freely to the public. If they do not, how are the electorate to hold the politicians to account? How will they ever know where their censure is required?

    Unil they do we will continue to require more Assanges and Snowdens.

    This story is why critical thinking is desperately needed – it needs to taught, it needs to be applied and above all it needs to be promoted.


  8. This is certainly disappointing. Being a Canadian myself, and having never voted Conservative, and working with people who deny AGW, I am getting cynical about the future of our country. We have so much potential it is amazing, but we seem to be following the US (and I guess Australia) on being retarded when it comes to science and investments.

  9. It gets worse … it seems the Conservatives aren’t content with merely stopping ongoing research and muzzling scientists, they are reported to be activity purging generations of irreplaceable scientific data and literature from Canada’s public-service research libraries: TheStar article

  10. I can understand the desperation of the carbonaceous Luddites and their stooges. Eventually their multi billion $ assets in the form of coal, oil and gas reserves will be unusable and worthless, so they want the gravy now. However once the public and investors realise their “assets” are worthless, the political stooges will know their sponsorship money from those sources is finished!

    Get your cash out of fossil fuel backed funds says UN climate chief –

    The pensions and nest eggs of billions of people around the world are being put at risk by global warming, says the UN’s climate chief.

    Christiana Figueres has called on investors to pull their money out of fossil fuel linked funds.

    She said institutional investors would be in blatant breach of their fiduciary duty if they ignored the “clear scientific evidence”.

    Ms Figueres said that they should put their money into green assets instead.

    Carbon bubble

    Environmental campaigners have argued that if the Earth is to avoid dangerous climate change, defined as temperature increases above 2C, then up to three quarters of the coal, oil and gas that remains must be left in the ground.

    Some financial experts have argued that if these resources are essentially declared worthless, this will have a major impact on the share values of the fossil fuel corporations that own them.

    The world could be heading for another major economic shock as stock markets inflate an investment bubble in fossil fuels to the tune of trillions of dollars, according to new research.

    In its second seminal report, Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted Capital and Stranded Assets, the Carbon Tracker Initiative found that firms invested $674 billion last year alone in projects trying to find and develop new fossil fuels reserves.

    Meanwhile back at rent-a.monkey, the politicians are pretending there is no investment capital for green technologies or research to target these low-carbon developments accurately!

    There was also this article a while back!
    UK universities urged to pull cash from fossil fuel giants – Anti-carbon divestment campaign targets £5bn of British funds -

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