The politics of science -

The politics of science

An NDP MP sets out some principles


While scientists rallied on Parliament Hill today, NDP MP Kennedy Stewart announced his intention to table the following motion.

That, in the opinion of the House, federal departments and agencies conducting scientific research should identify, develop, and implement communication policies that:

(i) actively support and encourage federal scientists to speak freely to the media and the public about scientific and technical matters based on their official research, including scientific and technical ideas, approaches, findings, and conclusions;

(i) allow federal scientists to present viewpoints that extend beyond their scientific research and incorporate their expert or personal opinions providing they specify they are not speaking on behalf of, or as a representative, of their department or agency;

(iii) ensure that public affairs or communications officers, elected officials, and Ministerial staff do not restrict, limit, or prevent federal scientists from responding to media requests in a timely and accurate manner;

(iv) prohibit public affairs or communications officers, elected officials, and Ministerial staff from directing federal scientists to suppress or alter their findings;

and (v) affirm the right of federal scientists to review, approve, and comment publicly on the final version of any proposed publication that significantly relies on their research, identifies them as an author or contributor, or purports to represent their scientific opinion.

It’s not clear yet when or how exactly this will be put to the House and motions of this sort aren’t binding.

Jonathon Gatehouse wrote this past spring about the Harper government’s relationship with science and Chris Turner, the journalist and former Green candidate, has a book out next month on the same subject.


The politics of science

  1. It’s the neo-con, teabagger, anti-science view.

    Australia with their Cons just now in power….no longer has a science minister. First time since 1931.

    It’s core policy with them. No science, no intellect, no knowledge…… brains.

    • Well, EmilyOne, it actually goes the other way around: no brains, no knowledge, no intellect, no science.

      • Either way ’round that circle you end up at the CPC doorstep.

        • And what doorstop would that be? That everything must be rounded?

          • DoorSTEP – as in entrance way. They are the anti-science party (or, at least, anti any science that doesn’t bring them immediate political gain).

          • In what way is the CPC the anti-science party? Could you give me some examples?

          • Go back and read the article. They have been muzzling scientists and statisticians since coming to office. They have turfed environmental protections. Etc. It’s all well documented for anyone (who doesn’t wear blinders) to see…

          • I would say it’s all a matter of interpretation.

            Statistics always run after the facts. And besides, the long form census is not as valuable as one might suspect. Not all personal information is needed for governing successfully.

            When scientists work for the government, they are not independent politicians. If government scientists would rather become politicians, then I would suggest they run for elections.

            Have you heard? Is Justin Trudeau successful yet at recruiting Kevin Page to run in the next election as a Liberal?

          • Without a credible policy platform of his own to run on, Junior will need all the help he can possibly get.

      • Everyone has brains hon. IQ is standard across the world.

        Now if you don’t want me posting to you….then stop posting to ME.

        • People with brains know how it works: the comment boards are free to post onto.

          I like posting on to you. I wonder when you figure it out that you, and you alone, have the power to respond to my post or not.

          • I don’t object to your posting to me….but it’s stupid when you then blame me for answering.

            Who did you think was going to buy THAT gimmick?

            Cons come up with the DIPPIEST ideas………!

          • How could I NOT hold you responsible for your own actions?

            Did I ask you to respond to my post?

            Have I in any way forced you to respond to my post?

          • Your panties are in a bunch again…’re babbling.

            Straighten them out before talking to me again.

          • Enfin; you are special!

          • Betcher boots….

  2. Congratulations to MP Stewart for taking the high road from all the politicking going on today and actually proposing relevant motions.

  3. the Harper government’s relationship with science

    Still espousing policies to fight climate change? If so, your relationship with science looks to be on just as shaky ground

    • The Torygraph….LOL

  4. Richard Feynman – Relation of Science and Religion:

    Western civilization, it seems to me, stands by two great heritages. One is the scientific spirit of adventure – the adventure into the unknown, an unknown which must be recognized as being unknown in order to be explored; the demand that the unanswerable mysteries of the universe remain unanswered; the attitude that all is uncertain; to summarize it – the humility of the intellect. The other great heritage is Christian ethics – the basis of action on love, the brotherhood of all men, the value of the individual – the humility of the spirit.

    How can we draw inspiration to support these two pillars of western civilization so that they may stand together in full vigor, mutually unafraid? Is this not the central problem of our time?

    • Actually Feynman was Jewish, and became an atheist as a teenager.

      He lived in a time when Americans had to pay homage to religion or lose their jobs.

      Many scientists have had to do that in order to survive.

      Time to dump religion

      Currently the requirement is paying homage to America’s ‘exceptionalism’…which Putin just kicked in the slats

  5. When scientists, employed by the federal government, have been instructed not to say the word carbon in interviews with the media, without getting permission from the PMO, then I think it’s high time that we kicked the Harper government out of office.
    Revealed during a recent segment with three government scientists and a Conservative front man for their stupid manipulative policies.
    Taxpayers are footing the bill for this information. They pay for the service. Not the Tories.
    Power and Politics with Evan Soloman
    Sept 16, 2013

  6. “Let’s say that science, some decades from now, said ‘we were wrong, it
    was not about climate’, would it not in any case have been good to do many
    of things you have to do in order to combat climate change?”

    – EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard

    But just remember, conservatives are anti-science.

    • Well, if one accepts that the best currently available peer-reviewed research indicates there is warming (though possibly not at previously forecast rates, per recent news), attempts to avoid or reduce measures to combat climate change, and justified by simple denial, are in direct opposition to the accepted peer-reviewed science, and therefore could be characterized as anti-science.

      However I am not aware of any physiological or neurological reason why “conservatives” might be considered anti-science (in fact I would aver that scientists are inherently “conservative” in researching and drawing conclusions); however current Conservative Party policies do seem to take positions that are in opposition to policies that are evidence based.

      • Evidence based? What a crock.

        Sure, there’s warming. It warms every morning and cools every evening. No, the peer reviewed research does not at all claim what you believe. There is much uncertainty in how much warming can be attributed to humans, and whether such warming is in any way unprecedented in history or out of the ordinary compared to natural processes, and whether any such warming would have positive or negative benefits. What you claim is the peer reviewed research, that is nowhere near the reality. The main thing the peer-reviewed research has revealed is that most, if not all, climate predictions from that same research were wrong, and the ultimate conclusion is that scientists have nowhere near the understanding of climate that many of the agenda and activist-based scientists claim they do. What the latest peer-reviewed research has been showing is that many of the alarmist claims about global warming were wrong. Your comment is anti-science, because it seeks to hide and ignore the truth about the latest research.

        Give it up. The jig is over.

    • Once in a while they slip and reveal the true progressive agenda: for government to assert control over anything and everything, for government bureaucrats to run our daily lives and to shape the world as they see fit. “Climate change” is just the latest excuse for the progressive agenda.

      Climate change is just the latest bandwagon. Every time they see somebody peddling a global disaster scary story, they latch onto it, to use it as a vehicle to achieve their goals. Anything and everything can be twisted into another reason for big government.

      Even in Canada, Dion’s green shift was the usual tax, spend and redistribution policy dressed up as an environmental policy. The impact on the environment would have been nil and the problem it was addressing was a non-problem. It was just another tax, spend and redistribute policy.

  7. Its interesting that this demonstration took place around the same time that news broke of leaked IPCC report where forecast temperature rises are less than previously forecast.

    In reaction, some pundits have taken this to mean ‘full steam ahead’ for oilsands development and pipelines (Tasha Kheiriddin) or that the whole climate change thing is overblown (Ezra Levant).

    A more thoughtful reading would indicate both these views are very selective.

    What I would like to propose to prominent scientific organizations, is to begin issuing and publicizing annual “awards” (in the same vein as the Ig-Nobel and Darwin) to journalists who misrepresent, lie or otherwise spin solid research to suit their political agenda (and don’t get me wrong, this knife can cut both ways, left or right).

    Problem is, there is so much misinformation to choose from, but I think we can safely give Ezra Levant or Lorne Gunter a lifetime achievement award already.

    • Brilliant idea. Scientists should be playing politics instead of doing science, that’ll increase their credibility.

      • Its not playing politics, its calling BS on those who would misrepresent what scientists produce. In fact the ones doing the misrepresenting are the ones “playing politics”.

        And as I said, pundits or politicians from anywhere on the spectrum would qualify if they misrepresented scientific findings to suit their political agendas.

        Those are the ones whose lack of credibility should be highlighted, and doing so actually would bring to everyone’s attention the credibility of the scientists.

    • Aaron Wherry is the king of spin, misrepresentation, select reporting and bias, and every other sneaky trick in the book.