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New ‘True North Smart and Free’ website showcases changes to public science in Canada

Ottawa (July 30 2015) - 

True North Smart and Free (www.truenorthsmartandfree.ca), a new website documenting recent changes to how science is collected, communicated and used in federal policy decision-making launches today.

Released by the science group Evidence for Democracy, the website provides an interactive platform to show the consequences that the erosion of public-interest science is having on Canadians and their environment.

The website launches in the wake of widespread criticism against the federal government by the science community over increasingly restrictive communication policies for government scientists, growing concerns over cuts to crucial government research and monitoring programs, and reduced funding for basic scientific research.

Through a series of case stories, the True North Smart and Free website documents over seven years of federal science policies and decisions. From the closure of research libraries to Canadian Ice Service scientists not being able to tell Canadians that arctic ice was at the lowest level ever, the website demonstrates the importance of science in evidence-based government decision-making.

Evidence for Democracy has released the tool in the run up to the election to help raise awareness about the role of public-interest science and informed decision-making in a healthy democracy to help make science and evidence-based decision-making an election issue this fall.

“Canada’s traditional investments in public science and our commitment to informed, rational decision-making has helped to make us one of the safest, healthiest and best educated countries in the world,” said Dr. Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy. “Unfortunately, recent decisions that erode public-interest science are putting this progress at risk.

“The economy, social programs, and public safety are issues that typically take the spotlight during elections. But without good supporting science, government decisions on these issues are merely guesswork – and often not very good guesswork at that,” said Dr. Scott Findlay, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Ottawa and Evidence for Democracy Board Member. “For what might be the first time in Canadian history, the federal government’s public science performance is an election issue.”

About Evidence for Democracy:

Evidence for Democracy (E4D) is the leading fact-driven, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization promoting the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making in Canada.

Media contact:

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

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.