The following letter was sent to the Ontario Humanist Society by Our Right to Know.
A Letter From The President
October. 22, 2015
We have a new government and there is hope that public science will once again be supported, and perhaps even flourish. During the election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada responded to our seven questions with the following answers:
Liberals believe that the federal government should base its policies on facts, not make up facts based on policy. Without evidence, government makes arbitrary decisions that have the potential to negatively affect the daily lives of Canadians. We need reliable economic indicators and data for sound economic policy, and to provide other governments, businesses, and civil society with the tools to enrich our national life. Unfortunately, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have allowed ideology to trump common sense, good policy, and evidence about what works. A Liberal government will ensure the federal government rebuilds its capacity to deliver on evidence-based decision-making.
- Will you and your party restore open and transparent communication between government scientists and the public?
Yes. A Liberal government will revoke rules and regulations that muzzle government scientists and allow them to speak freely about their work, with only limited and publicly stated exceptions. We need scientists to conduct research for the public good and share their findings free from political interference. In doing so, we also ensure that policy-makers have the right facts so they can best serve Canadians.
- Will you and your party re-establish the mandatory long-form census?
Yes, a Liberal government will immediately restore the mandatory long-form census. We will also make Statistics Canada fully independent with a mandate to collect data needed by the private sector, other orders of government, not-for-profits, and researchers, in order to support good decision-making. We will consult broadly and work with a strengthened Statistics Canada to make available additional data needed by businesses, municipalities, the not-for-profit sector, and the public. This would include more detailed labour market information, child development data, and statistics on natural capital.
- Will you and your party appoint a Science Adviser who reports directly to Parliament?
Yes, we will create a Chief Science Officer whose mandate would include ensuring that government science is freely available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that scientific analyses are appropriately considered when the government makes decisions.
- Will you and your party protect the ability of registered charities to participate in public debates without fearing government retaliation?
We understand the fundamental role that the not-for-profit sector and charities play in both policy development and program delivery for Canadians. The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to renewing the federal government’s partnership with civil society. As a first step, we will put an end to the Canadian Revenue Agency’s political harassment of charities and clarify rules to affirm the important role that charities can and should play in developing and advocating for public policy in Canada.
- Will you and your party provide sufficient funding for research that ensures the health and safety of Canadians and the environment?
As other countries innovate and invest in research and development, Canada has fallen behind. Canada has several innovation hubs, including for medicine and medical devices, pharmaceutical and bio-products. We have many successful, growing, innovative firms, but we do not have enough of them. We do not have enough well-financed incubators that provide the advice, office space, and access to research and financial support that entrepreneurs need as they start new companies. A Liberal government will kick-start Canada’s innovation potential over next three years by making significant investments to boost Canada’s innovative capacity. We will invest $200 million per year, in each of the next three years, in a new innovation agenda. We will provide direct support to business incubators, accelerators, and research facilities with the objective of creating successful networks like the American and German partnerships between businesses, government, and university and college research.
In addition, we will work with provinces and territories to overcome obstacles to innovation in health care delivery and to disseminate and scale up successful new practices, such as ways to use genomics in precision medicine. This includes supporting initiatives that help health care providers collaborate, across Canada, to ensure the most appropriate and effective treatments and practices for their patients. By using the best available evidence, governments can increasingly work together to support front-line health providers as they deliver high-quality and effective care to Canadians.
We will also focus on innovation in environmental sustainability. Clean technology can deliver real benefits for our environment and our economy, including more good, middle class jobs. We will invest $100 million more each year in clean technology producers, so that they can tackle Canada’s most pressing environmental challenges, and create more opportunities for Canadian workers. We will deliver more support to emerging clean tech manufacturing companies, making it easier for them to conduct research and bring new products to market. We will also invest $200 million more each year to support innovation and the use of clean technologies in our natural resource sectors, including the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and agricultural sectors. To foster the creativity that leads to cutting-edge research, we will also establish Canada Research Chairs in sustainable technology.
We will increase science spending in our National Parks by $25 million per year to allow for early identification of ecological stresses and avoid permanent degradation. We will also reverse the $40 million that Mr. Harper cut from the federal government’s ocean science and monitoring programs. We will restore $1.5 million in federal funding for freshwater research, which was cut by the Conservatives, and make new investments in Canada’s world-leading IISD Experimental Lakes Area.
- Will you and your party rebuild government libraries and archives and restore public access?
Liberals believe that the government has a critical role in the preservation, promotion and display of our heritage. Whether it is through museums or federal institutions (e.g. Library and Archives), government support is essential for the preservation and exhibition of our history, culture and identity. Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has been severely neglected by the Conservative government. As documents are increasingly digitized, LAC was subject to a $9.6 million cut. This resulted in 98,000 boxes of documents collecting dust, documents that are a valuable part of our documentary heritage.
Liberals believe that Library and Archives Canada has an important role to play in ensuring Canadians have access to historical documents, and will work to support a digital strategy for LAC.
Part of our task now is to make sure that Canada’s new government will actually do these things. It will be part of our task, as an organization, to remind the government of their promises.
With hope for a Canada that will once more base its policies on evidence,
President, Our Right to Know
p.s. The Liberal Party also provided responses to our questions in French. Visit our website for the translated text.