Scientists march on Parliament Hill to protest 'death of evidence'
Published Tuesday, July 10, 2012 6:37AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 10, 2012 11:26PM EDT
Hundreds of scientists gathered on Parliament Hill Tuesday, wearing lab coats and denouncing the government for funding cuts they say will result in the "death" of evidence.
During the event, which was billed as a funeral procession for the truth, scientists chanted: "No democracy, no evidence, no science, no truth."
The scientists says that cuts to federal research programs will impede their ability to do research in such key areas as the environment, First Nations, climate change and the national census.
They’re angry about cuts to Environment Canada, Statistics Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, and National Round Table on Environment and Economy.
One of the organizers of the protest, Dr. Scott Findlay, an associate professor and former director the University of Ottawa's Institute of Environment, says the demonstration isn’t about scientists losing jobs; it’s about the federal government suppressing science.
“There’s been an orchestrated campaign to reduce the flow of evidence,” Findlay insisted in an interview with CTV New Channel Tuesday, ahead of the march.
“The reductions in the ability to collect evidence and transmit evidence have been targeted in particular areas – those areas that are likely to be undermined or be inconsistent with government agendas or ideology.”
Findlay says without the most up-to-date data, politicians are unable to make fully informed decisions. He says this should be a concern for all Canadians.
“We want to underscore to the public the importance of scientific evidence in government decision making,” Findlay said.
“This is an issue that concerns all Canadians, irrespective of where they stand on the political spectrum.”
Findlay says it’s not just that federal research programs are being cut; the protesters also believe that evidence that contravenes the federal government’s agenda is also being suppressed.
“There are many examples documents over the last couple of years of where scientists have been impeded from bringing information… into the public domain,” he said.
“If this is not inconsistent with basic democratic principles of transparency, I don’t know what is.”
The protest group planned to march from the Ottawa Convention Centre at 12 p.m. ET, then proceed to Parliament Hill. The protest is being sponsored by the Council of Canadians.
Liberal science and technology critic Ted Hsu joined the protests, condemning what he described as a hostile attitude by the Conservatives towards science and research.
"To make sound decisions governments need sound data, yet this government prefers to create policy based on ideology that often directly contradicts research and evidence," Hsu said in a statement.
"It was Conservative ideology that motivated raising the retirement age on Canadians when data said that the Old Age Security was sustainable."