In response to these concerns and in anticipation of the upcoming election, Evidence for Democracy distributed a science policy questionnaire to all major party leaders to gain insight into how they plan to address these issues if elected.
Here we have summarized the responses from the Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party, and Green Party of Canada. No response was received from the Conservative Party of Canada.
You can also visit the science platform for each party for more information on the policies they are proposing:
Open science communication:
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. The Liberals are proposing a new central portal where government research would be accessible to the public. The Green Party would bring in legislation requiring that all publicly funded research be publicly accessible.
Government science watchdog:
All three parties committed to creating a new government office to provide science advice to Parliament and ensure that policy decisions are based on the best available evidence. 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.
Long-form Census and Statistics Canada:
All three parties pledged to reinstate the mandatory long-form census. The Liberal Party committed to making Statistics Canada fully independent and ensuring that the Chief Statistician will be able to operate free of political interference over matters related to data sources, methodology and professional standards. The NDP are committed to increasing the independence of the Chief Statistician by changing how people are appointed to the search committee. The Green Party would ensure that Statistics Canada is given the funding and support required to fulfill its mandate.
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.
Business investment in research and development:
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 Green Party would create a task force to review the closing of federal science libraries in recent years to determine if any federal laws were broken.
The NDP would bolster the environmental assessment process to independently assess the impact of natural development projects on the health, safety and environment of Canadians.