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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Muzzling science - Harperism undermines Canadian contributions

For those that suffered through the Regan years in the US, where presidential policy dictated the sort of science being undertaken, and “inconvenient” types of research were systematically annialated.  The most notable being stem cell research, for which globally over a decade of right wing conservatism has held back progress.

Fast forward to Harper’s prime ministerial election in 2006, followed by a second minority government in 2008 – and then a majority in 2011.  Slowly but surely, administrative decisions have eroded the same sorts of science that Reganomics negated – those that are inconvenient to either government or more specifically conservative policy direction.  Harper’s purge of science has in some ways being even more complete.  

Gone are efforts on climate change while oilsands and energy “research” is thriving.  Basic information and research on economically challenged persons was systemically eliminate from the long form census in the name of protecting the “privacy” of a few very rich persons who did not want to disclose their actual wealth, but in reality the loss of economic data from the census hit those in poverty the worst as the issue appears less concerning than it actually is.  Research on issues like economic determinants of health have been negatively impacted. 

Moreover is the highly controlling fashion that those that oppose the prevailing conservative mentality would see their positions defunded, non-governmental agencies had their foundations eroded from underneath of them, science that potentially challenges government policy is run through so many filters it is diluted to the point of not even reflecting the findings of the research. The inability of government scientists to speak freely has been noted previously in this blogsite. 

And yet, outside of inner circles, this systematic elimination and biasing of results to misdirect public opinion goes predominately unchecked and undiscovered.  Thankfully a few lone voices in the public media are beginning to speak out.  To this extent, the Toronto Star via a Calgary journalist at least has published a scathing editorial of Harperism science.  The debate can be followed on Twitter at #unmuuzzlescience.  A new book by the writer of the Toronto Star editorial looks also worth reading The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper's Canada.


Whether you agree with Harper politics, the public have a right to be made aware of being manipulated and deceived for the sake of conservative policy – and that is for those of us with science foundations the worst possible crime.


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