|The Death of Evidence Rally: Scientists take a Stand in Canada’s Capital|
|Written by Michelle Reeves and Katia Ramadori, Four Green Steps|
|Thursday, 19 July 2012 01:27|
Written Michelle Reeves and Katia Ramadori, Four Green Steps
Katie Gibbs had no idea that her conversation with fellow grad students at a bar would turn into a 5,000 people rally on Parliament Hill.
Making headlines across the country, the Death of Evidence rally, co-organized by Gibbs and Dr. Scott Findlay, brought together scientists and non-scientists for a funeral procession from Ottawa’s Convention Centre to Parliament Hill to commemorate “the untimely death of evidence.” Speakers delivered eulogies and participants paid their respects to a black coffin filled with scientific books and equipment.
In an effort to save money, Canada has shut down several large scale research stations, such as PEARL (Polar Environmental and Atmospheric Research Laboratory) and the Experimental Lakes Areas. These cuts have also left hundreds of scientists out of a job. Along with new laws that prevent government scientists from speaking about their research to the media, Canadian scientists are feeling the need to take action against “the blindfold of ignorance imposed on our once great country,” as stated by Diane Orihel, PhD Student.
As the procession poured onto Parliament Hill, participants expressed themselves through chants such as:
-“What do we want?”
-“When do we want it?”
-“After peer review!”
Combined with clever signs, the electricity in the crowd was tangible. Talks of “iron curtains” and “propaganda” had the crowd riled up and avidly participating. Speakers acknowledged the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper’s interest in applied science, yet were disappointed in his decision to cut world renowned scientific research facilities.
The organizers and the nine speakers spoke with immense passion and concern. They all expressed fear for a future without “evidence-based-decision-making. “ However, a voice a hope poured over the audience as PhD student Adam Goovan exclaimed, “We are not as divided as Harper makes us think. The next generation will be just as vocal, if not louder!”
Many activists hope to initiate reform in the science sector, but also acknowledge that they are part of a broader movement sweeping the country that is fighting for better education and environmental protection.
Although the coffin of evidence is closed, scientists are more determined than ever to have their knowledge shared and their voices heard. As Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, stated, “We deserve to have a government that listens to everyone, to those who have the knowledge.”
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