Science Policy

The science minister seems to be in denial
Publish Date: 10-SEP-2014 11:40 AM
It’s not unusual for any government to deny the unpalatable until it finally becomes too counterproductive or absurd to do so. The government of Stephen Harper, however, has taken the practice of naysaying to breathtaking heights. Take, for example, the reaction of Science and Technology Minister Ed Holder to an editorial in The Telegram on Aug. 29. (Science Inc.). Faced with the fact that his government has systematically undercut any scientific pursuit that hinders its pro-business agenda, the minister has adopted the tried and true head-in-sand tactic. 
 
Canadian beekeepers sue Bayer, Syngenta over neonicotinoid pesticides
Publish Date: 08-SEP-2014 02:11 PM
Canadian beekeepers are suing the makers of popular crop pesticides for more than $400 million in damages, alleging that their use is causing the deaths of bee colonies.  
 
Scientists urge government to fund basic research
Publish Date: 05-SEP-2014 11:22 AM
A survey of 12 countries, including Canada, shows that scientists are concerned about the drop in government support of basic science in favour of applied research that leads to short-term benefits. While applied science is valuable and necessary to keep up in a competitive global economy, we need basic science as well to open new possibilities for true innovation. 
 
Put focus back on basic research, say science unions
Publish Date: 03-SEP-2014 02:03 PM
Geneviève Fioraso, France's minister for higher education and research, denies trade unions' claims her government wants science to have immediate economic returns.An unrelenting political push towards economic returns and short-term targets for research is endangering scientists' academic freedom in many countries around the world, the leading French researchers' union has warned…Canadian scientists, in particular, face a unique set of challenges as the government puts a squeeze not only on their funding, but also on their freedom of expression. 
 
Grassy Narrows : Why is Japan still studying the mercury poisoning when Canada isn’t ?
Publish Date: 02-SEP-2014 01:50 PM
By the time government scientists arrived in 1970 to do some testing, the people at Grassy Narrows and neighbouring Wabeseemoong First Nations had already eaten dangerous amounts of contaminated fish. The first tests revealed extreme levels of mercury in hair and blood. There has been no epidemiological study to establish the scope of the Grassy Narrows exposure, and no long-term tracking of what are now recognized as the life-long effects of ingested mercury, although an expert review by Canadian scientists in 2010 stated "there should have been extensive examinations and followup of these communities.” 
 
When science meets aboriginal oral history
Publish Date: 31-AUG-2014 01:28 PM
“Scientists are sitting around and academically discussing different theories about peopling of Americas, and you have all these different views on how many migrations, and who is related to,” he says. “Then when we actually undertake the most sophisticated genetic analysis we can do today, and this is state of the art, genetically — we could have just have listened to them in the first place.” 
 
Québec s’en remet à TransCanada (French)
Publish Date: 30-AUG-2014 01:19 PM
Malgré le fait qu’il ait essuyé uniquement des refus de TransCanada à ses demandes répétées d’un avis scientifique en bonne et due forme, le gouvernement du Québec a autorisé l’entreprise à mener des forages sous-marins dans le secteur maritime de Cacouna en vue de la construction d’un port pétrolier destiné à exporter du pétrole des sables bitumineux. 
 
Science Inc.
Publish Date: 29-AUG-2014 11:39 AM
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had another frosty message for scientists last week during his annual tour of Canada’s North. Peppered throughout the usual patriotic rhetoric were some key code words reinforcing his government’s agenda for publicly funded research. It’s simple, really. Science in the aid of industry is all that matters. Everything else is a burden or a waste of time. 
 
Why science literacy matters: Bob McDonald
Publish Date: 29-AUG-2014 11:32 AM
The good news this week that Canadians are tops when it comes to understanding science in the media is encouraging, but there is still a long way to go when it comes to making policy decisions that involve science. 
 
Is Canada a nation of science geeks?
Publish Date: 28-AUG-2014 09:20 AM
From knowing what a molecule is to endorsing government support for basic research, Canadians as a whole display a clearer understanding of and a more positive attitude toward science than people in most other developed countries. A new report, released on Thursday by the Council of Canadian Academies, offers the most comprehensive portrait of the country’s science culture in a quarter century. It comes at a time when economic competition abroad and complex policy questions at home surrounding issues such as climate change increasingly require decision makers and the public to have a basic level of fluency and comfort with scientific thinking. 
 
E-cigarettes : l’OMS pour une interdiction aux mineurs (French)
Publish Date: 26-AUG-2014 03:55 PM
L'Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) a recommandé mardi d'interdire la vente des cigarettes électroniques aux mineurs et leur usage dans les lieux publics fermés, estimant que celles-ci présentaient un «grave danger» pour l'adolescent et le foetus. 
 
Un-muzzle the scientists?: Critics say “Yes, please”
Publish Date: 26-AUG-2014 08:51 AM
Earlier this week University of Alberta professor Andrew Leach wrote an article for Macleans.ca titled Un-muzzle the scientists? Not so fast. Because of the intense interest in the story, we’ve assembled responses from three critics who took issue with Leach’s argument, along with a new post from Leach in which he responds to the critics. 
 
An inside look at U.S. think tank ‘s plan to undo environmental legislation
Publish Date: 24-AUG-2014 03:43 PM
Internal documents from this summer’s Dallas meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, leaked to a watchdog group, reveal several sessions casting doubt on the scientific evidence of climate change. They also reveal sessions focused on crafting policies that reduce rules for fossil fuel companies and create obstacles for the development of alternative forms of energy. The meeting, hosted in Dallas from July 30 to Aug. 1, involved a mix of lobbyists, U.S. legislators and climate change contrarians, and was sponsored by more than 50 large corporations, including several that do business in Alberta’s oilsands. 
 
The Harper government’s lonely struggle against reality
Publish Date: 22-AUG-2014 03:31 PM
In a recent speech to the Canadian Medical Association, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said something no cabinet minister ought to have to say out loud: that her boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and his government are firm believers in evidence-based policy. The fact that Ambrose felt the need to assert publicly that her government drafts policy based on facts — not on hunches, hearsay or blind ideology — highlights the Harper government’s essential problem when it comes to getting Canadians to sign on to its program: It does not believe in fact-based policy and seldom feels the need to behave as if it does. The Conservatives believe in ideology over evidence. They believe in belief. For proof, look no further than Ambrose’s own portfolio. 
 
Where’s the fight for our fishery ?
Publish Date: 20-AUG-2014 03:03 PM
If the government of the U.S.A. and the fishing fleets of foreign countries behaved in their fishery like they do here in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Americans would have a civil uprising; it would never be allowed to take place. 
 
Environnement Canada veut centraliser la collecte de données (French)
Publish Date: 18-AUG-2014 01:58 PM
Environnement Canada procède à une réorganisation de la collecte des données météorologiques, dans le but de répondre à la demande croissante d’information de la population. C’est ce qu’ont expliqué dimanche soir des représentants du service, lors de la Conférence scientifique publique mondiale sur la météorologie (WWOSC) à Montréal. 
 
Refugee claimants struggling to find health care after cuts
Publish Date: 17-AUG-2014 01:45 PM
Two years ago, the Conservative government made cuts to refugee health care, arguing it would deter “bogus” refugees from coming to Canada and save taxpayers $100-million over five years. The cuts drew outrage from many refugee advocates, doctors, lawyers, and some provinces that found themselves footing the bill. Last month, a Federal Court ruling called the measure “cruel and unusual treatment” and found “no persuasive evidence” the cuts reduced claims and costs. 
 
Science writers can help raise knowledge
Publish Date: 11-AUG-2014 10:12 AM
Knowledge empowers us to question media coverage, government policy and claims we see and hear every day. We have to rely on effective science communication to help condense, synthesize and translate the ever-increasing body of scientific knowledge into general concepts we can integrate and apply in our daily lives. 
 
Evangeline Lilly : It’s My Job To Stand Up for Canadian Scientist
Publish Date: 08-AUG-2014 09:40 AM
Lilly first heard about the defunding and muzzling of Canada’s federal scientists when she was reading DeSmog Canada just over a year ago. In a spate of funding cuts, the federal government eliminated some of Canada’s most prestigious scientific institutions, to the dismay of scientists and Canadians across the country. And since the Harper government has been in power, strict communications protocols have prevented scientists from speaking with the public about their research, limiting public awareness of taxpayer-funded science. 
 
Conference celebrates female physicists, but there’s room for more
Publish Date: 07-AUG-2014 08:07 AM
Of all the hard sciences, physics is notorious for having the lowest percentage of female practitioners. That's why hundreds of them get together every three years to discuss how to improve the numbers. This year the International Conference of Women in Physics is at Wilfrid Laurier University, where delegates from 50 countries will discuss national policies, salaries, competition and cultural barriers — some of the reasons why many of them think there are so few females in physics.