Monday, March 25, 2013

A Motion on Science and the Nays(Conservatives) Have It

On March 20th 2013 the NDP member Kennedy Stewart sponsored a motion on science.

That, in the opinion of the House: (a) public science, basic research and the free and open exchange of scientific information are essential to evidence-based policy-making; (b) federal government scientists must be enabled to discuss openly their findings with their colleagues and the public; and (c) the federal government should maintain support for its basic scientific capacity across Canada, including immediately extending funding, until a new operator is found, to the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility to pursue its unique research program.

It went down to defeat with  Conservative members including my own Mp Rick Dykstra voting against the motion. This vote gave rise to comments that can summed up in one phrase, "Conservatives vote against science". Certainly the conservatives have demonstrated a contempt for Science; ignoring data on Safe injection sites; data on climate change; ending the long form census, eliminating the position of  National science Advisor; ordering government scientists to silence. You might even suggest the demonisation of the Environmental movement and its spokes people as indication of their lack of respect for science or science based opposition. 

It doesn't help the Conservative image that the Ministers of Science and Technology Gary Goodyear has taken some Heat for his positioning on evolution. 

The Governments positioning on science strikes me as political; a means to an end, rather than ideological; and end in itself. No Canadian government can oppose science on its face; everything about our modern society rests on science. You wouldn't have a Tar Sands industry without science, but you wouldn't have Tar Sands opposition without it. Safe Injection sites reduce all manner of ills, associated with drug abuse including reduced health care expenditures due to disease prevention. Cost reduction is usually an occasion for Conservative High Fives, except that it conflicts with similar conservative notions on crime & punishment;   or character and weakness. The Conservatives in serving their ideology of what is fit and correct choose to alienate the Science rather than their base. 

This Conservative Government has gone farther than any other in their attempt to weaken any opposition to their agenda, be it social, fiscal or economic. They happily employ science to advance their aims while cutting out the legs of any science that may obstruct. 

Returning now to the NDP motion on science, the Government vote is a reflex; it protects their long term goal. They vote no on free exchange of science information; control of information is a key to power. They vote no on science informing public policy  because that can impair the advancement of Conservative policy. Vote no on scientists speaking freely so that they do not embarrass or impair government agenda; a similar strategy with conservatives MP. Vote no on reversing  Environmental Lakes Area funding; the less environmental data available to use in judging the merits/harm of resource extraction projects. 

I think that the conservatives are contemptuous of science, a small bit from fear and loathing but mostly because it represents an opposition and Harper doesn't like opposition. 

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