Ottawa, ON – Parliament Hill was the scene of a mock funeral on July 10, as hundreds of scientists gathered to mourn what they term is the death of evidence and the muzzling of scientists by the Harper-led federal government.
The government is accused of being antagonistic towards any research which contradicts its world view. The protesters pointed out that the Conservative government has made large budget cuts to science programs, has muzzled scientists that contradicted them, eliminated the long form census, made cuts to air and marine pollution monitoring. “Canadian government scientists are now muzzled. An iron curtain is being drawn between science and society. Closed curtains, especially those made of iron, make for very dark rooms,” said Jeff Hutchings, President of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution.
The one lab that was highlighted by some protesters was the imminent closure of the world renown Experimental Lakes Area (ELA). “Today, we mourn the Experimental Lakes, but moreover, we mourn the blindfold of ignorance imposed upon our once-great country. With fear and trembling, we enter a two plus two is five universe,” said Diane Orihel, leader of the Coalition to Save ELA. However, this facility is not the only prominent research facility that has been closed due to budget cuts by this government. The Kluane Lake Research Station in the Yukon Territory is also being shut down. As one of Canada’s oldest and most celebrated scientific research stations, its research projects span glaciology, geomorphology, geology, biology, botany, zoology, hydrology, limnology, climatology, high-altitude physiology, anthropology and archaeology. Its location, next to the largest non-polar ice field in the world, makes it an ideal location to measure the changes taking place in the Earth’s climate.
This research facility, which just had a $2-million renovation in conjunction with its 50th anniversary last year, is administered by the University of Calgary’s Arctic Institute of North America, will close for good if no new funding is found by March 2013.
It is not known how the July 10 protests by scientists in Ottawa will influence the government as it has come out strongly defending their record on budget cuts and denying that it is anti-science.