David Suzuki speaks out against Stephen Harper at Stand Up for Science rally in Vancouver

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      Cheers of approval greeted David Suzuki as he spoke before a large group that rallied in defence of science at the Vancouver Art Gallery today (September 16).

      “We now have a prime minister intent on pushing through the pipeline across British Columbia before all of the scientific information—the assessment—is even in,” said the academic and famed environmentalist. “We don’t make informed decisions that way. We have to assess the information available. But what we are now is we are threatened with politicians deciding, not only whether or not to listen to scientists, but the kind of information that scientists are allowed to tell us about.”

      The event was one of 14 protests staged across the country under the slogan Stand Up for Science.

      In a telephone interview, Pamela Zevit, one of the Vancouver event organizers, told the Straight that federal Conservative policies are hindering the work of scientists and preventing researchers from meeting their responsibilities to society.

      “Over the last few years, there have been a lot of shifts in how science is funded in Canada and in how science is communicated to the public,” she explained. “I happen to be a conservation biologist and I work with a number of individuals who are both inside and outside of government and I’ve seen the impacts that these changes have had in regards to ensuring that there is enough rigorous information that’s provided for decision making.”

      The office of Greg Rickford, Canada’s minister of state for science and technology, did not respond to an interview request by deadline.

      The same day that scientists and their supporters staged the protests across Canada, the NDP opposition critics for science and technology called on the government to pass a motion that would protect researchers from political interference.

      On the phone from Ottawa, Kennedy Stewart, MLA for Burnaby-Douglas, told the Straight that some 200 scientists he’s spent the last two years meeting with regularly have expressed three major areas of concern.

      “The first is that this muzzling that is creating a chilling climate, where you’re always looking over your shoulder,” he began.

      The second is the significant number of researchers who have lost federally funded positions. “Since 2011, there have been 4,000 scientists and researchers who have lost their jobs,” Stewart said. “Considering we only have about 36,000 researchers in Canada employed by the federal government in Canada, that’s a lot, to lose 10 percent in two years.”

      The third cause for alarm is funding cuts. According to Stewart, since 2006 there has been a six-percent reduction in federal funding for science and technology investment in Canada.

      He described it all as part of a greater narrative related to an open hostility towards environmental science and climate change research, and how work in those fields could adversely impact the economic development of Alberta’s tar sands (also known as the oil sands).

      “It’s gotten so bad that our information commissioner here has launched an investigation into six government departments, including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada, and the National Research Council,” Stewart said. “It really is a dark time for science in Canada.”

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      Sep 16, 2013 at 5:15pm

      Get up to date people, we don't have to love this planet with fear like neocons:
      *Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.
      *Science has never agreed it WILL be a crisis, only could be a crisis and it’s been almost three decades.
      *Not one single IPCC warning has ever said any crisis WILL happen, only 28 years of “maybe” a crisis. Prove me wrong.
      *Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).
      *Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier.
      *Obama had not mentioned the crisis in two State of the Unions addresses.
      Definition of a Fear Monger; Anyone saying a CO2 crisis will happen when science has NEVER agreed it WILL happen, they only agreed it could and might and possibly and……………………….for 28 years. Who’s the neocon here again?


      Sep 16, 2013 at 6:42pm

      what is this crisis you speak of exactly? I believe it isn't going to be a crisis , but eventually small changes to our environment will begin to affect how we live. These being a lack of significant local food sources where the water dependent Californian farms will be starved for water very soon. All of our local farmers have been undercut out of business by these large monopolizing farms and without the input of these local sources, we will see what happens..

      Chris walsh

      Sep 16, 2013 at 7:06pm

      It is not just the science or the carbon dioxide, or the suppression of information it's the insistence on selling unrefined crude over refined product, and the refusal to transition to a more green economy. If nothing is done we will be worse off soon!

      Michael Puttonen

      Sep 16, 2013 at 8:11pm

      It's happening already. The science was decided long ago. We're fucked.


      Sep 16, 2013 at 10:40pm

      @ mememine69 - you're acting like a conspiracy theorist - typical of someone who wants to obfuscate the issue - were you paid by the harper administration????

      What is clear is this: That the Harper administration tries to silence those who speak against them and their agenda. This is not limited to the "voice of science" - they limit the information published to the general media as well - does that not spell FASCIST, TOTALITARIAN and DICTATORSHIP to you? Get him out - anyone who votes for him is simply afraid of change and the typical response is "there's nobody better to vote for" - well I'm sorry, but that's not a good enough excuse for voting for him. PERIOD. We don't want or need someone like that in power. Not only has he undone years of environmentally protective laws, but he's trying to "globalize" our economy based on some unproven theories (he's an economist after all) - the people who suffer are the Canadian people - who work to pay our dues (taxes) to keep this country alive. The top 1% is just that - only 1%.

      C. Brown

      Sep 17, 2013 at 4:34am

      In the Land of Fruits & Nuts, Amoebas cheer publicly paid Fruit Fly Squishers

      C. Brown

      Sep 17, 2013 at 9:39am

      Have no fear, Fruit Fly Squisher is here !

      valerie morris

      Sep 17, 2013 at 10:03am

      I was at the raly yesterday and all I would like to say is thank-you to Mr.Suzuki and all others involved. I don't know how anyone can deny what is happening on our planet. Canadians need to wake up! Before people start or continue criticizing Dr.Suzuki' and other scientists findings, they need to realize the objective to the raly was to educate the public regarding the lack of information we currently have...as our government is muzzling our scientists. As Canadians we cannot even formulate educated opinions unless we have all the information Mr.Harper is keeping from us. ..and frankly I'm tired of hearing criticism regarding Dr.Suzuki. ..he has dedicated his life to help save our planet..Canadians owe him respect! End of story...Thank-you Dr.Suzuki for your continued dedication to saving our planet and ultimately my family.

      Lee L

      Sep 17, 2013 at 10:57am

      @Valerie Morris

      'saving our planet' huh?

      This just in!!...
      Your planet will return to ice age status within a few millennia. The Holocene has been a great ride but it is time for it to end. Think there might be some species depletion happening then?
      I bet humanity will be all to happy to burn coal, or even better have a fusion technology working.


      Sep 17, 2013 at 11:53am

      David Suzuki as gotten rich spewing his fear mongering BS. I am sure most if his followers do better things for the planet than he does. I don't trust him, i don't like him. Harper keeps the country working and paying the taxes the left so dearly loves. We had a great warm and sunny summer, and i LOVED IT!