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The E4D Story

Science, Uncensored

Evidence for Democracy – a grassroots movement that restored respect for science in Canada

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Our Beginning

In 2012, Canadian scientists were becoming frustrated with the federal government’s increasing tendency to sideline science in its decision-making. It was not only defunding research, it was silencing scientists and shutting down research facilities. 

The relationship between science and democracy seemed to have come to an end, and it was only a matter of time before thousands of Canadians decided to do something about it.

Death of Evidence Rally

After years of the federal government sidelining science in its decision making, tensions began to mount in 2012. That July, thousands of Canadians converged on Parliament Hill for the Death of Evidence rally, a movement to restore the relationship between evidence and democracy. 

Death of Evidence Rally
The Death of Evidence Rally
The Death of Evidence rally

The Rally’s Impact

While the mock funeral that was the Death of Evidence rally lasted just one day, the thousands of Canadians that showed up on Parliament Hill sent a very clear message, one that sparked a movement that continues to grow momentum to this day. Collectively, that group of protestors is responsible for helping to restore evidence-informed decision making and ultimately, for the conception of Evidence of Democracy.


The Government Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper Increasingly Sidelines Science

The government takes increasingly anti-science actions, including eliminating the long-form Census, withdrawing Canada from the Kyoto protocol, slashing budgets and shuttering research facilities. Cases of government scientists being prevented from speaking to the media begin to emerge.


Scientists Mobilize

Graduate students and professors at the University of Ottawa plan a protest. They coordinate what will come to be known as “The Death of Evidence” rally. Thousands of people show their support.

Channeling the protest’s momentum, E4D is incorporated in the fall with one of the protest organizers as its executive director. 


The Science Uncensored Campaign Begins

E4D runs its first campaign, Science Uncensored, which focuses on the suppression of government scientists. E4D begins to gain a following.


E4D Publishes First Research Report, Can Scientists Speak?

The report graded 16 federal government departments and agencies on their communications and media policies. Over 85% of the departments and agencies receive a grade of C or lower


Signs of Progress

For the 2015 federal election, E4D creates a website to tell scientists’ stories and explain why free scientific speech is important, develops policy recommendations to strengthen evidence-informed decision making and creates a Science Pledge. Eighty candidates from multiple parties take the Science Pledge and the Liberal Party wins with a platform that prioritizes science.


Advocacy Starts to Pay Off

The Liberal government names a Minister of Science and restores the long-form census. Mandate letters to Ministers are made public and state the government’s commitment to using the best available science and evidence-informed decision making.


E4D Focuses on Relationship-Building

With a more science-friendly government in power, E4D shifts its advocacy approach to focus more on building bridges. It pushes for science-related policies and holds the government accountable for its science-related commitments.


Campaigning to Protect Free Speech

E4D begins its campaign to save the Polar Environmental Atmospheric Research Lab following unexpected cuts to a climate science program that funded critical Arctic research and sends an open letter to the prime minister and the ministers of two science-related departments. It calls for scientific integrity policies that would allow scientists to speak freely about their work.


Mobilizing for Science

American scientists organize the Scientists’ March on Washington. E4D organizes a corresponding March for Science in Ottawa.


A Chief Science Advisor for Canada

The government announces a new Chief Science Advisor to the Government of Canada. The appointment follows a nine-year hiatus.


A Win for Free Speech

E4D’s efforts to secure free speech are rewarded when the government adopts and implements the scientific integrity policies across government.


Increased Investments in Fundamental Science

The 2018 federal budget announces new investments in science and research. The budget also makes considerable mention of the government’s commitment to evidence-informed decision making.


E4D Organizes the Vote Science Campaign

The campaign provides a portal for voters to engage candidates and provides a toolkit on how to address election candidates at meetings or events, with social media tools and forms for tracking interactions.


New Avenues for E4D

The Liberal party is re-elected with a minority government and does not renew the position of Minister of Science. E4D creates a Truth Pledge as part of a suite of training tools to combat misinformation and begins to offer training on science communication and policy-making.


The COVID-19 Pandemic Changes Everything

The pandemic ushers in a chaotic period that tests the public’s willingness to trust scientists, health officials and key decision-makers in government.


E4D Continues to Evolve

E4D continues to monitor the government’s use of science in policy, releasing its first report on the transparency of evidence usage in policy, kicking off the Eyes on Evidence research series. These reports mark the next stage of sophistication for E4D as an organization, now equipped and positioned to assess the government’s transparency of evidence usage regularly and report on it publicly.


A New Seat for Science in the House of Commons

Canada’s 44th session of Parliament welcomes a new Standing Committee for Science and Research. E4D provides testimony to the new Committee, speaking to the increased need for a voice in science when it comes to government decision making.


E4D builds public demand for evidence

E4D launches the first Evidence Matters campaign to empower Canadians to critically think about and ask for evidence in everyday life

Evidence for Democracy Today

Through issue-based campaigns, training programs and an original research program, Evidence for Democracy has solidly established its place on the national stage as the leading organization that promotes the transparent use of evidence in government decision making in Canada. 

Why We Keep Fighting

Icon of an eye within a box

We believe in the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making.

Icon of an official document

There are gaps between policy and evidence that cannot be ignored.

Icon of a globe

Scientific integrity and meaningful investments in science have a place in our society.

Icon of two arrows in a cyclical pattern

There should be an ongoing relationship between science and democracy.

A child holds up a sign that says Mmmm π at an E4D rally at Capitol Hill