Influential journal blasts Tory government's 'disregard for science'

One of the world's leading scientific journals has criticized the Stephen Harper government for what it calls a 'manifest disregard for science' in Canada.

One of the world's leading scientific journals has criticized the Conservative government's "manifest disregard for science" in Canada.

The comments were published Thursday in the British journal Nature.

"Science has long faced an uphill battle for recognition in Canada, but the slope became steeper when the Conservative government was elected in 2006," the journal said in an editorial titled "Science in Retreat."

The editorial blasts the government's decision to close the office of national science adviser, a move confirmed last month by Industry Canada. The office offers advice on global science and technology issues and how government can better fund and support Canadian science.

"Concerns can only be enhanced by the government’s manifest disregard for science," says the journal.

"Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power, his government has been skeptical of the science on climate change and has backed away from Canada’s Kyoto commitment.

The journal notes last month's government order for Environment Canada scientists to route all media enquiries through Ottawa for an "approved" response and the cabinet's failure to attend a reception for Nobel Prize winning Canadian scientists last week in Ottawa.

It also warns of "chronic problems for Canadian science," saying scientists face significant funding challenges.

The journal says leading Canadian scientists must be better public advocates for scientific funding and support, adding the possibility of an upcoming federal election could "lead to a change for the better."