Nothing’s really changed yet, but I’m cautiously hopeful.
On September 25, the Federal Liberal party released a statement1 that included this music to my ears:
The muzzling of scientists and the Conservative suppression of scientific information is an assault on democracy and an embarrassment to Canada on the international stage. The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to revoking the rules and regulations that muzzle government scientists and allow them to speak freely about their work, with only limited and publicly-stated exceptions. In addition, we will consolidate government science so that it is easily available to the public at-large through a central portal.
Further to this, should the Liberal Party of Canada form the next government, we will create a Chief Science Officer, whose mandate will include ensuring that government science is freely available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that scientific analyses are appropriately considered when the government makes decisions.
Earlier today, Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he and his cabinet were sworn in. Of particular interest to me is Ontario MP Kirsty Duncan who took the Science portfolio. Is this the Chief Science Officer mentioned in the press release? I have no idea.
What I’m particular pleased about are Kirsty Duncan’s qualifications. According to Wikipedia2,
After graduating from Kipling Collegiate Institute in 1985 as an Ontario Scholar, Duncan studied Geography and Anthropology at the University of Toronto. She then entered graduate school at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and completed a Ph.D. in geography in 1992.
She’s a scientist. Anyone with a Ph.D. has contributed new research to their field even if they never do anything else.
Who previously held the science portfolio? Harper’s last assignment to the post was Roy Cullen3, a chartered accountant with a Bachelor of Arts in business administration and a Masters in Public Administration. I’m sure he’s got mad skills in administration, but a science post should be held by a scientist. It’s not fair to expect a business administrator to have a vision about science. This has always bothered me about government portfolios. The politicians are shuffled about and none of them have any expertise in the fields they’re heading. I’m thrilled to see Trudeau has appointed people with expertise in their portfolios.
I remain cautiously hopeful and remind myself that it’s still early.