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Thwarting the Death of Evidence: 10 years ago, Canadians stood up for science on the steps of Parliament

Ottawa — July 11, 2022

Ten years ago, the erosion of science in government and the muzzling of federal scientists sparked a rebellion. Evidence for Democracy is commemorating the ten year anniversary of the Death of Evidence — the 2012 nation-wide rally that united thousands of scientists and their supporters to stand up for evidence-informed decisions and scientific integrity. 

The following year, the event organizers founded Evidence for Democracy (E4D) to continue efforts to put scientific evidence at the heart of policy decisions. In the decade since, E4D has grown into a leading voice for evidence-informed decision-making, conducting research on issues at the intersection of science and policy, and equipping hundreds of scientists and researchers with skills to contribute to public policy in Canada.

Ten years later, there are still many barriers to meaningful exchange between science and policy. Rachael Maxwell, Executive Director at E4D notes that, “While science in Canada faces chronic underfunding by practically every measure, weak investment is only part of the picture.” 

In 2017, after a nine-year hiatus, the Government of Canada restored the role of Chief Science Advisor. However, the office is not protected by any official measure to withstand changes in government. Parliamentarians who make critical policy decisions need timely access to science advice on issues ranging from climate change to pandemics, but no formal mechanisms exist to facilitate this. As in the U.K., a Parliamentary Science Officer could provide needed support to Canada’s decision-makers. Beyond the federal level, science advice across the country lacks a linked-up, pan-Canadian approach, limiting the impact of science advice across the federation. 

This July, E4D invites people across Canada to commemorate the ten year anniversary of the Death of Evidence and to keep standing up for the value of science to public policy. “Ensuring a sustained voice for science and evidence-informed decisions helps build a thriving democracy, where governments can be held to account for how they shape and justify the decisions that impact every aspect of life in Canada,” added Maxwell. 

Media Contact
Rachael Maxwell
Executive Director, Evidence for Democracy
rachael@evidencefordemocracy.ca 
Phone: 514-589-3784

Evidence for Democracy is a non-partisan, non-profit promoting the transparent use of scientific evidence in government decision-making. Follow @E4Dca on Twitter or head to the website: https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/en.

Rachael Maxwell

Executive Director

Rachael Maxwell joins Evidence for Democracy with a deep knowledge of the science landscape in Canada and a strong track record of success working at national not-for-profit research organizations. From 2018-21 she held progressively responsible roles at Genome Canada, working across the organization on key priorities in communications, public affairs and strategic planning. Previously, Rachael worked at Mitacs on the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship where she managed the design and delivery of the program from its inception through its first three cohorts. Rachael is also a member of the Board of the Directors at the Science and Policy Exchange. Rachael is passionate about working at the intersection of science, society and policy. She speaks to diverse audiences at home and abroad about the need to improve the mechanisms that connect science and policy. Rachael also brings years of experience working in arts management and an academic background in cultural studies.