How will Canadians decide? - Facts vs misinformation

It’s a case study in facts vs. misinformation. Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a long-awaited report; a “scientific blueprint” for how we can reach the global goals agreed to in Paris in 2015.

These 90 climate scientists are some of the world’s most respected and established researchers, and they’re clear in their findings: we will need unprecedented action and change if we are to avoid climate catastrophe. Canada’s current climate action is insufficient - we would need to reach 385 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year - 2016 produced nearly twice that amount. But we aren’t totally off track. Carbon pricing is a tried and tested way to reduce emissions.

Also last week - the Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer for their work on the taxing of pollution and carbon emissions. Dr. Nordhaus has been crystal clear: “The problem is not knowing what to do. The problem is getting a consensus to act.”

At the same time all this was happening, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and leader of Alberta’s Opposition United Conservative Party Jason Kenney, held an anti-carbon tax rally in Calgary.

Their strategy is clear - using blatant misinformation around carbon pricing to increase polarization. It's a strategy we've seen play out in other countries, and we don't want it to take hold here.

How can we make sound policy, and avoid dire climate consequences, when politicians are using misinformation to put ideology above evidence?

We have to fight back, with facts.

In the lead up to the 2019 federal election, we will do just that. We are preparing to equip Canadians with the tools they need to fight back against misinformation and hold our representatives accountable. We are still finalizing our plan and we’ve got a year until the election but we wanted to loop you in right away so we can deliver a campaign that works for our supporters. The scale of this work will depend on how much support and partnerships we receive.

Here’s how we are planning to keep facts and the forefront:

  • Fact checking of political parties and pundits to make sure that the facts are first, and to hold our representatives accountable.
  • Town halls across the country to engage Canadians in a discussion on the links between science and democracy.
  • Online Truth Tools and resources including webinar presentations and social media infographics on how individuals can push back against misinformation when they see it, and be proactive when they accidentally share something misleading.
  • A pledge to help us all commit to fight misinformation by researching before posting to social media and challenging misinformation in a constructive way when we see it.

We already know that science advocacy works.

Over the past three years we’ve achieved so many wins for Canadian science: federal science integrity policies, a historic bump in research funding, temporary funding for Canada’s Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, the return of the mandatory long-form census, and the re-establishment of a federal Chief Science Advisor, to name a few.

Canadians value truth, science and rational debate. We want to make sure that Canadians are equipped to deal with the new threats of misinformation, political spin, and dangerous fabrications masquerading as science and fact heading into the next election.

We cannot allow our representatives to reject evidence and drive policy conversations with partisanship and ideology.  Let’s protect the gains that we have made together for Canadian science in recent years, and defend our democracy by demonstrating that we value truth and by advocating for strong science in Canada.

Are you interested in getting involved or partnering with us on this campaign? Send an email to info@evidencefordemcracy.ca. You can also help make this campaign happen by donating.

Emma Bugg

Communications and Engagement Coordinator

Emma is passionate about social and environmental justice and has worked on climate change issues for a variety of non-profit organizations. She has worked to learn leadership and organizing skills through volunteer work, as well as through social justice leadership training programs including IMPACT!