Ottawa – May 26, 2015
Evidence for Democracy is pleased that MP Ted Hsu, the Liberal Science and Technology Critic, has put forward a motion that would end the government’s silencing of public scientists, launch a new portal that allows publicly-funded science to reach the public, and create a Chief Science Officer. The motion will be debated today and Evidence for Democracy hopes that all MPs will work across party lines to implement the measures in this motion that protect public science for the benefit of all Canadians.
Evidence for Democracy is encouraging all federal parties to support government science integrity by committing to a government-wide open science communication policy that ensures public scientists can share their crucial research with Canadians and creating a new Science Officer position to act as a watchdog for science within government.
“It’s time for Ottawa to lift the communications restrictions that are preventing federal government scientists from sharing their crucial research with Canadians,” said Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy. “Mr. Hsu’s motion will go a long way to ensuring that Canadians have access to important government science that keeps them safe and healthy.”
“When Canadians’ health and their environments are at stake, the best evidence needs to be included in decisions. Restoring the Chief Scientist position within the federal government would ensure the best evidence is put in front of decision-makers on matters that affect us all,” said Jeremy Kerr, who holds a research chair at the University of Ottawa. “Evidence matters, and we are worried that it has too often been missing in action in recent years.”
Full text of the motion:
That, in the opinion of the House: (a) the government has constrained the ability of federal scientists to share their research and to collaborate with their peers; (b) federal scientists have been muzzled and prevented from speaking to the media about their work; (c) research is paid for by taxpayers and must be done in the public interest in order to protect the environment and the health and safety of Canadians; and, therefore, (d) the government should immediately rescind all rules and regulations that muzzle government scientists, consolidate government-funded or -created science so that it is easily available to the public at large through a central portal, create a Chief Science Officer whose mandate would include ensuring that government science is freely available to those who are paying for it, namely, the public, and allow scientists to be able to speak freely on their work with limited and publicly stated exceptions.