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Evidence 4 Democracy

No science, No Evidence, No Truth, No Democracy

by Shahrukh Ashraf

Evidence for Democracy rally; Septmeber 16, 2013; Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada
Evidence for Democracy rally; Septmeber 16, 2013; Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada
Evidence 4 Democracy rally participant
Evidence 4 Democracy rally participant

 

Evidence for Democracy held their second annual rally in support for scientists and science on Parliament Hill on Monday, September 16, 2013. The organization was born from last year’s rally, a mock funeral for the death of evidence based decision making in Canada.

There were seventeen other events planned across the country. According to Dr. Katie Gibbs, co-founder of Evidence for Democracy, this was “... one of the largest rallies the country has ever seen.”

The rallies’ purpose was to shed light on the current federal government’s muzzling of science and scientists in favour of applied research which benefits industry.

The tone of the rally was set by the chanting: “What do we want? Evidence based decision making.; When do we want it? After peer review.; No science, no evidence, no truth, no democracy.” The chanting was followed by a line up of qualified speakers eager to prove their contentions.

Dr. John Stone, Adjunct Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University and a member of an intergovernmental panel on climate change, expressed “We hope we don’t have to make this an annual event.” He lamented that since last year’s rally, the state of pure scientific research has actually deteriorated.

Dr. Jeremy Kerr, Professor of Biology at University of Ottawa, research chair in Macroecology and Conservation & Vice President of Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, outlined for us the federal government’s Orwellian plan to dismantle pure scientific research:

• Muzzle the Scientists • Shift public funds to science which benefits industry • Shut down science research departments and organizations • Shoot the messenger so media dare not question

Dr. Kerr pointed out that in 2006, the National Research Council published nearly 2000 peer reviewed publications with 53 published patents. In 2012, publication output dropped by 80% and patent publication rate dropped by 95% to only 3.

Dr. Kapil Khatter, a family physician made the connection between the necessity for pure, basic research and its role in bettering our everyday lives. He reminded us that public researchers warned us about the dangers of tobacco, asbestos, and leaded gasoline when industry was telling us they were safe.

Jessica McCormick, National Chair Person for the Canadian Federation of Students, Gary Corbett, President of Professional Institute of Public Service of Canada, and Dr. Béla Joós, Professor Of Physics at University of Ottawa and editor of Physics in Canada, also warned us of the dangers of muzzling scientists. The dismantling of a healthy research structure in favor of industry, mostly foreign, creates an unbalanced system and syphons funds away from the Canadian public as industry doesn’t reinvest in the system.

To conclude, Dr. Scott Findlay, associate Professor Of biology at University of Ottawa, and co-founder of Evidence for Democracy, urged us to embrace our inner scientist and demand evidence based research from our governments which in turn demands transparency and accountability. This is necessary for a route to an enlightened democracy.

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We R the People (Shahrukh Ashraf)
Ottawa, ON
Member since Novembre 2012

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