North

Rallies call for more scientific freedom

Rallies are planned across Canada including Yellowknife Monday to force the federal government to share with the public what's being found in scientific research.

Across Canada, demonstrations are planned today to urge government to release scientific research

Scientists are gathering on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and at locations across the country to protest cuts to research and what they say are the federal government's attempts to "muzzle" scientists. (Margo McDiarmid/CBC)

Rallies are planned across Canada including Yellowknife Monday to force the federal government to share with the public what's being found in scientific research.

A group calling itself Evidence For Democracy is organizing events in different Canadians cities, trying to pressure Ottawa to be more forthcoming about communicating what government-funded scientific research is uncovering in fields such as public health, crime prevention, fisheries management and climate change.

"We are entitled to those results, especially when we have a direct bearing on our health, our safety or even our education," professor Audrey Giles said.

Giles has been doing research in Northern Canada for 15 years and is one of the organizers of Yellowknife's Stand Up For Science rally, which is set to take place in front of the Greenstone building at noon today.

Giles says federal scientists need to be able to share their findings freely with Canadians. Right now, they are not allowed to present at conferences or talk to the media about it, despite the fact taxpayer dollars are funding the research.

There are accusations in the scientific community that they are being muzzled because of political idologies favouring certain doctrines.

National movement

"Anything related to the climate is of particular importance to northerners, as health researcher myself, I would also really stress the importance of health research," says Shane Pike with the Northwest Territories chapter of the Council of Canadians, who is also helping to organize the rally.

"It was public science that provided compelling evidence that smoking was harmful when tobacco manufacturers were claiming that cigarettes were safe,” Ottawa-based physician Dr. Kapil Khatter said in a release announcing Ottawa's rally, also scheduled for today.

Canadians rely on science heavily and good decision making around science to keep our waters clean, our air clean, keep us healthy, keep our food safe and just encourage economic development that's sustainable.

In addition to events in Yellowknife and Ottawa, similar demonstrations are planned in Vancouver, Salmon Arm, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener – Waterloo, Montreal, Fredericton, St. Andrews, and Halifax.

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