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London chapter joins global ‘March for Science’ as Trudeau & Trump fail to fund research

The London chapter at today’s March for Science.

The Council of Canadians London chapter will be taking part in the March for Science in their community today.

London chapter activist Robert Cory, a retired chemistry professor, will be among those marching this morning.

The local media release for the march explains, “The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. A diverse, nonpartisan group will unite and call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers around the world to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.”

It then highlights, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health will see significant funding cuts if [US President Donald Trump’s] proposed budget is passed.”

And the local promotion for the march notes, “Meet at the NW corner of Victoria Park at 10am. We will have a few very short speeches by a First Nations representative, an environmental activist, a scientist, and a representative for Evidence for Democracy. The speakers will briefly highlight the importance of science in advancing society, improving the environment, and in policy-making decisions. We will then march around Victoria Park in a show of solidarity with other marchers around the world.”

Last June, the Trudeau government appointed an Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science to be chaired by Dr. David Naylor.

CBC reporter Kelly Crowe comments that was “a welcome sign for scientists who were breathing easier after years of muzzling and open hostility from the Conservative government under Stephen Harper.”

But her article then highlights, “[The] national report on the state of federal funding for fundamental research in Canada declared that the country’s scientific enterprise is in serious decline. And last month’s federal budget failed to provide any new money for the three federal science funding agencies. …Across Canada, labs are closing, graduate students are losing their research jobs and some senior scientists are facing the grim reality that they might have to abandon decades of inquiry, leaving important scientific questions unanswered because there’s no way to pay for the research.”

The article adds that the Advisory Panel’s report “explains in detail how Canadian science spending has flatlined as governments have tied science funding to political priorities. That’s tipped the balance toward commercialization and industry targets and away from basic science, or what Naylor calls ‘unfettered’ research done by independent scientists working in universities and research centres. The result? After years of funding neglect, Canadian science is slipping compared to the rest of the world.”

Lori Burrows, a professor and senior scientist at McMaster University in Hamilton, says, “Despite the Trudeau government’s promise of sunnier ways for science, we are still waiting for those rays to break through the storm clouds.”

There are 400 March for Science protests happening around the world today, including 18 marches in Canada.