Gurpreet Singh: Science deniers need to be defeated in the upcoming federal election

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      Close to the 50th anniversary of the first human landing on the moon, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s controversial remarks on Canada's Food Guide suggest we have no dearth of science deniers in politics.

      Scheer recently told dairy farmers in Saskatoon that the food guide was “ideologically driven by people who have a philosophical perspective and a bias against certain types of healthy food products”.

      The food guide lists vegetables, fruits, and whole grain as source of protein.

      Scheer assured the dairy farmers that if his party were to be elected to power in the October election, it would review the document. He insisted that milk should have been included as source of protein. 

      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rightly criticized Scheer by saying that the food guide isn’t driven by a political ideology but is based on scientific research.

      Scheer's statement clearly shows that he has joined the growing list of right-wing populist leaders of the world who have repeatedly denied science and are bent upon taking the society backwards. 

      For the record, U.S. president Donald Trump and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi have time and again denied science.

      Modi, leader of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), has gone to the extent of claiming that an ancient Hindu civilization developed plastic surgery and stem cells. BJP supporters openly question Darwinism and claim that Hindu mythology is science.

      Under these leaders, reason and logic continue to be under constant assault either due to underfunding of the scientific studies or physical attacks on rationalists by those blinded by religious nationalism.

      What binds Trump and Modi together is that both have denied climate change. This itself is a clear defiance of the scientific evidence of a major international crisis. 

      At different times, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and U.S. president Donald Trump have left people wondering if they truly comprehend the threat of climate change.
      Shealah Craighead/White House

      With right-wing populism gaining ground across the globe, voters in Canada need to be vigilant about what Conservatives are professing. After all, they have in the past halted the long-form census and extended support to those who believe in creationism. 

      The previous Conservative government also muzzled government scientists and stopped them from speaking on public policies to educate the people.

      Scheer’s assurance to dairy farmers should be seen in this context. It cannot be interpreted as a simple electoral strategy to garner the support of those involved in the dairy industry. 

      If we truly believe in science, then let our scientists decide what is good or bad for us.

      Otherwise, what’s the point of celebrating 50 years since the landing of Neil Armstrong on the moon? 

      We need to be vigilant against such regressive voices in politics and discourage them from taking us back into the Stone Age. The upcoming federal election gives us an important opportunity to defeat them.

      Gurpreet Singh is cofounder of Radical Desi magazine and Indians Abroad for Pluralist India.

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