Science being assaulted: MP

Proposed closure of Centre for Plant Health was only one in a long line of wrong-headed decisions

By Tim Collins

Last year’s proposed closure of the Centre for Plant Health in North Saanich was only one in a long line of wrong-headed decisions regarding scientific research in Canada, says Saanich-Gulf Island MP Elizabeth May.

“The Harper government is only interested in science that is business-led and industry-relevant,” said May in an interview with the PNR.

“With that sort of mentality, it isn’t surprising that they barged ahead with closing a facility that they viewed as being involved in ‘non-productive’ science.”

She says she suspects that “someone, somewhere, thought it would be a good idea, and just ran with it.”

“It was part of the government’s assault on science,” continued May adding that “it’s been going on for years and the problem is that it’s all being done in an atmosphere of secrecy.”

That alleged secrecy has been decried by scientists, academics, journalists and environmentalists across Canada and, on Sept. 18, those concerns led to nation-wide protests by a group calling itself Evidence for Democracy.

Their rallies, dubbed Stand Up for Science, were held in 17 cities to draw attention to  increasingly strict communication policies that prevent researchers and scientists (like those at the Centre for Plant Health) from relaying information to the media or the public.

Lu Zhao, the organizer of the Vancouver Stand Up for Science rally said that the rallies were meant to draw attention to the fact that at the same time as the federal government is making “absurd and obscene” cuts to basic science, they are engaged in a systematic muzzling of scientists in their employ so that the public remains unaware of the situation.

“It’s an assault on our basic rights to know what’s happening,” said Zhao.

It’s a sentiment shared by Elizabeth May.

“It’s all very Orwellian,” said May.

“For example, the proposed closure of the Centre for Plant Health was rumoured to come from some sort of weird interagency rivalry between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the more business oriented Agri-Food Canada. But no one would talk about that.”

May said that the federal government has increased the number of information officers who manage the message of scientists by 15 per cent.

“It’s unprecedented and antithetical to democracy to silence or intimidate scientists in this way,” said May.

“It seems that the Harper government is allergic to transparency.”

When the News Review originally requested an interview with scientists at the Centre for Plant Health, the interview was not granted. It required ten days of phone calls and emails to the Media Relations Office in Ottawa for the News Review to be granted a brief interview.

Just Posted

Cycling Without Age raises funds for program

Free rides for seniors coming to Sidney

SidFest raises $1,500 for youth clinic

For the sixth year, SidFest has been an opportunity for talented high… Continue reading

Tanner’s Books owner is running for Sidney mayor

Cliff McNeil-Smith says managing growth is his top priority

Feast of Fields settles in for the summer of 2018

Vancouver Island Feast set for Kildara Farms in North Saanich on Aug. 26

CREST technology goes digital

System handles one call every four seconds

New stage highlight of Brentwood Bay Festival

Peninsula Country Market vendors and music accompany start of summer celebration

Sidney painter also a preacher

Patrick Chu opens new studio; off to China this month

BC Lions defensive back Marcell Young levels streaker in home opener

Young hit the fan near one of the 45-yard lines

Police: Taxi driver who hit 8 Moscow pedestrians fell asleep

Two Mexican World Cup fans were among those hit

B.C. VIEWS: Orphans of our urban drug culture neglected again

Child advocate Bernard Richard leaves B.C. with harsh message

From marijuana beer to pot cookies, Canadian companies creating cannabis edibles

Manufacturers think that edibles will do well with users who don’t want to smoke or vape

5 fun things to do this weekend in Greater Victoria

Car Free YYJ, family fishing, Sooke bluegrass, walk for cancer and a mascot’s birthday

Privacy lawyer warns against victim blaming in recent sextortion scams

Perpetrators get sexual photos of the victim and threaten to share them with friends and families

Most Read