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Opposition parties commit to unmuzzling government scientists and creating new government science office

Ottawa - September 24
In response to a science policy questionnaire sent to all major party leaders byEvidence for Democracy - the Liberals, NDP and Green Party have all committed to unmuzzling government scientists as well as creating a new government office to ensure that policy decisions are based on the best available evidence.

All three parties committed to opening up communication between government scientists and the public. The NDP outlined plans to require federal departments and agencies to implement new communication policies that empower government scientists to share their research with the public while the Liberals and Greens are proposing a new central portal where government research would be accessible to the public.

All three parties also expressed broad support for creating a new office that would provide science advice to Parliament. The Liberals are pledging to create a Chief Science Officer, similar to the Chief Science Advisor position that was eliminated in 2008. The NDP are proposing the creation of a Parliamentary Science Officer to provide independent oversight of the use and communication of government science. The Green Party stated it would reinstate the Chief Science Advisor Position as well as create a Parliamentary Science Officer.

“Science commitments are rarely made during elections. These commitments reflect the current woeful state of public science in Canada, as well as increasing public understanding of the critical role played by public science in keeping Canadians safe, healthy, and prosperous,” said Dr. Scott Findlay, Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Ottawa and Evidence for Democracy Board member. “It is encouraging to see widespread political support for a number of key initiatives that would improve public science and evidence-based decision-making in Canada.”

The questionnaire responses included some specific research funding commitments with the Liberals committing $25 million in funding for National Parks and reversing funding cuts to government ocean science and monitoring programs. The Green Party is promising $75 million annually to hire scientists at Environment Canada, Health Canada and Fisheries and Oceans as well as reinstating federal funding for the Experimental Lakes Area and the Marine Mammal Contaminants Program.

The NDP and Liberals are both proposing initiatives to increase business investment in research and development. The NDP will create an Innovation Tax credit for small businesses to help them invest in the equipment needed for research. The Liberals are proposing a Labour Sponsored Venture Capital Tax Credit and will invest $200 million annually to support innovation in the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agriculture sectors.

The Conservative Party of Canada did not respond to the questionnaire.

The full questionnaire and party responses can be found here: https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/en/2015-election-questionnaire

Media contact:

Marija Curran, Communications Coordinator, Evidence for Democracy
Phone:613-277-0186 or email: marija@evidencefordemocracy.ca

Evidence for Democracy (E4D) is a non-partisan organization promoting the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making.

Katie Gibbs

Directrice générale

Katie Gibbs est une scientifique, organisatrice et défenseuse de la science et des politiques fondées sur des preuves scientifiques. Alors qu'elle complétait à l'Université d'Ottawa un doctorat portant sur les menaces visant les espèces en voie de disparition, elle a été une des principales organisatrices du rassemblement dénonçant la mort de la preuve scientifique (Death of Evidence) — l’un des plus grands rassemblements du genre dans l’histoire canadienne. Katie a co-fondé Savoir et Démocratie et y occupe maintenant le poste de directrice générale. Elle possède une expérience variée dans l’organisation et la gestion de campagnes sociales et politiques aux niveaux local et national. Katie est régulièrement invitée à commenter des enjeux de politiques publiques scientifiques. Elle a publié et a été citée dans de nombreux médias, y compris la CBC, The Hill Times, The Globe and Mail et le National Post.