The Pros And Cons Of Cuts Under The Harper Government

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Under the Harper government, hundreds of federal research facilities and programs, have faced cuts to their budgets or been shut down, facing outrage from scientists, politicians and Canadians alike. In six years the Harper government dismissed more than 20000 scientists and aided in the closing of hundreds of programs, ranging from climate change to ocean toxicity to public health. Despite these cuts, the office of the Minister of State for Science and Technology has stated “Our government has made record investments in science… We are working to strengthen partnerships to get more ideas from the lab to the marketplace and increase our wealth of knowledge” (CBC 1). Many of the scientific community cite these cuts to a refocusing of government, …show more content…

Official documents stated “Just as we have one department’, one website’ we should have one department’, one voice’”. Dr. Peter Ross, a former federal scientist, would frequently give interviews to the media about his work on Canadian ocean toxicity. This has stopped during the Harper government, leading him to become concerned. “What we have done in Canada is turn off the radar” stated Dr. Ross. “We are flying along in an airplane, and we’ve put curtains over the windshield of those pilots, of that flight-crew, and we’ve turned off the instruments”. Many other scientists agreed, leading to the 2013 protests ‘Stand Up For Science’, calling for the “open communication of publicly funded science to the public, use of the best available science and evidence to make decisions and the funding of all scientific research”. However the Harper government insisted their government’s priority was getting “independent science into the public domain”. Dr. Peter Phillips, a specialist in public policy and science from the University of Saskatchewan finds nothing wrong with the media protocol stating, “ it is not the role of government scientists to speak out to the public, but rather work behind the scenes to advise politicians. It is up to the politicians to make decisions, and the voters will hold them to …show more content…

However, in 2012 its budget was drastically cut and research at PEARL had to stop. Dr Tom Duck is one of the founders of PEARL, and worried about what exactly lead to the cuts at PEARL. The Harper governments pursuit of Artic Oil worried Duck, as he stated, “We know that climate change is an enormous problem. It is the problem for the next century, so if you want to get out your oil, you have to get it out now… If you want to get it out now, you make sure the scientists aren’t causing any problems. If you want to make sure the scientists aren’t causing any problems, you take away all their funding”. Duck was not alone in his concerns, scientists who became outspoken on the environmental impacts of the Alberta oil sands, were often criticized by federal government for publicly sharing their findings. For example, when David Schindler was a professor of ecology at the University of Alberta, his research team found that the resource project was contaminating the Athabasca watershed, and some fish were developing deformities. When he published this in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Schindler was criticized by federal government. “It’s like they don’t want to hear about science anymore,” Schindler stated. “They want politics to reflect economics 100 per cent -

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