The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment

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      This post first appeared at, a partner of National Geographic.

      This is a brief chronology of the current Conservative Canadian government’s long campaign to undermine evidence-based scientific, environmental and technical decision-making. It is a government that is beholden to big business, particularly big oil, and that makes every attempt to shape public policy to that end. It is a government that fundamentally doesn’t believe in science. It is a government that is more interested in keeping its corporate masters happy than in protecting the environment.

      As is occasionally my habit, I have pulled together a chronology of sorts. It is a chronology of all the various cuts, insults, muzzlings and cancellations that I’ve been able to dig up. Each of them represents a single shot in the Canadian Conservative war on science. It should be noted that not every item in this chronology, if taken in isolation, isn't necessarily the end of the world. It’s the accumulated evidence that is so damning.

      Most of the items come from various links I’ve saved over the years as well as various other media articles I’ve dug up over the last week or so. This series at The Huffington Post has been particularly useful as has this article at the Wastershed Sentinal.

      A long list of various environmental programs that the Harper government has discontinued or slashed funding to is here. I haven’t found individual media stories about all of them, so they aren’t in the list below. If you can help me find stories about some of those programs, etc, please let me know. As well, some stories are treated multiple times, with perhaps an initial story telling the big picture or introducing a large series of cuts and later stories fleshing out details.

      Update 2013.05.27: An undated list of science or environmental libraries closed is available here: Natural Resources Canada is set to close six of fourteen libraries in 2012-2013, Parks Canada will consolidate 5 libraries into one, Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. An undated list of women’s programs cut since 2006, including many science or health-related, can be found here: Assisted Human Reproduction Canada, Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health









      This list is no doubt incomplete. There may also be link errors or duplications.

      In particular, if you have updates on any of the stories, including reversals or reprieves, I want to hear those too.



      Steve McQueen

      May 28, 2013 at 3:25pm

      No doubt Harper views environmental monitoring as an obstacle to unrestricted expansion of Oil Sands and Natural Gas production to fuel economic growth. Clearly he's out of step with the majority of Canadians, who deeply value Canada's air, water and ecology.


      May 28, 2013 at 4:46pm

      I beg to differ with Mr. McQueen's assessment about "the majority of Canadians," valuing the environment. I wonder if he has noticed that Canada has a conservative majority government and that in BC a Liberal (squishy Conservative) government was just re-elected. It seems to me that most Canadians have decided that the environment can take a back seat to promises (perhaps empty) of jobs.

      Susan Ferguson

      May 28, 2013 at 5:49pm

      In response to Hazlit's comment, Harper won with a 39% majority government, that's hardly a glowing mandate by the Canadian people for the Conservatives and their agenda. Meanwhile in BC, if the vote on the left hadn't been split with the Greens the NDP would have been elected in twelve more ridings and the Liberals would have lost. (There is also some suggestion that the Liberals tried to plant the idea that Adrian Dix would flip-flop on the environment and it would be better, if people really cared about environmental issues in this provence, to switch their votes to the Greens, unfortunately, it worked) . Either people on the left need to vote strategically or we really need to work on electoral reform because what's been happening lately in Canadian elections is not what I'd call democratic or representative of the people .

      John-Albert Eadie

      May 29, 2013 at 1:22pm

      On the other hand it's easy to understand. Selfish and stupid. And that *is* by the way, a description of the majority of Canadians also. Democracy, at least the way we run it, does not work.

      K Garner

      May 31, 2013 at 11:50am

      Proportional Representation would have finished off the BC Liberals last election. A few Greens might have gotten in. NDP would be in power.

      Mail Room Dude

      May 31, 2013 at 2:43pm

      I swear I saw a guy just like that in the Mail Room sorting Mail...:)

      So this is what happens when the Vote is split and 37.9% elect the majority Government.

      You get morons...:)


      May 31, 2013 at 6:37pm

      FYI Our Dear Leader in the last federal election had the support of 25% of the total electorate and receives a majority government which surely is not a democratic solution to who governs. The fact is that less than 60% of eligible voters voted and Our Dear Leader received less than 38% of that total eligible voter turnout. This is NOT democracy as it should be practiced.

      Arm Chair

      Jun 1, 2013 at 11:20am

      Conservative philosophy is to control us and stay in power by keeping the population blind. Our windshield is to be kept cloudy and opaque so we cannot measure the destruction the Harper admin is doing to Canada. Plus we cannot argue how rudderless and directionless Conservatives are as we're lead into the gutter.

      Very sad.


      Jun 1, 2013 at 5:17pm

      The Conservative war doesn't end with science - it extends to morals, democracy, the poor, the unemployed, veterans, and anyone who dares challenge their lies and spin.

      For all the Liberal's failings - at least they did some good and the economy worked for more Canadians while they paid down the national debt.


      Jun 1, 2013 at 9:58pm

      Christy Clark banning the Enbridge pipeline, doesn't mean a damned thing. She is giving David Black $16 billion of our tax dollars, towards a $25 billion refinery at Kitimat Port. How does the oil get to Kitimat? Someone has to bring in oil tankers, to pick the oil up?

      As usual, the BC Liberals have lied AGAIN. Christy works for Harper, as Campbell did before her. We also know, Harper has his own Scientists, who will say there is no such thing as climate change. Also, the Enbridge pipeline will be perfectly safe.