Canada: Go Vote!

Today is election day in Canada and it’s a chance for Canadians to bring change to who runs the country. The hopefully soon to be ousted government has based laws which the courts say “constitutes cruel and unusual treatment“. The Conservative party has got to go.

Here’s John Oliver’s take on the sad state of Canadian federal politics.

You want to make Canada a good place? Go vote for change!

Elections Canada

Why Science is Important in Democracies

Canada is in the midst of an election, and it’s a close one. The anti-science incumbents have spent a lot of effort muzzling scientists in Canada as they pursue their environment-destroying goals. Why does this matter?

In a democracy it is necessary to have educated debates about issues instead of baseless opinons and flat-out hearsay. Over at the Tyee they took a look at the important role science plays in democratic discourse.

Government scientists occupy a special place in our democracy. They are the only scientists paid specifically to protect the public interest. They are also the only scientists whose task is to inform government on scientific matters, to the exclusion of any competing interests. Silencing government scientists ultimately damages the common good.

My colleague Jeff Hutchings once wrote: “Let’s be clear. When you inhibit the communication of science, you inhibit science. The legitimacy of scientific findings depends crucially on unfettered engagement, review, and discussion among interested individuals, including members of the public.”

Read more.

Canadians: Stand Up for Science on Sept. 16

Previously on Things Are Good we’ve seen Canadians concerned about democracy mobilize to ensure that our political leaders make informed decisions. After a streak of attacks on knowledge, scientists and non-scientists alike are rallying in cities throughout Canada this coming Monday. If you’re in Canada you should join the rallies organized by Evidence for Democracy.

Here’s all the relevant information:

A year after gathering on Parliament Hill to mourn the ‘Death of Evidence’, scientists and their supporters are back. On September 16th, they will rally in Toronto and across the country to highlight the critical need to maintain evidence-based decision-making through the support of science in the public interest.

Rallies are set to take place in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Fredericton and Halifax, along with numerous other communities.

“Science matters,” says Dr. Katie Gibbs, biologist and Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy. “Good science, when coupled with good decision making is what keeps our water and air clean, keeps us healthy, keeps our food safe and is the engine of economic development.”

In Toronto, Dr. John Polanyi, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Scientists for the Right to Know supporter says “Today… the freedom of our science is being constrained. Long-term goals are being sacrificed for short-term. The scientist’s freedom to explore and then debate are being restricted.” Dr. Margrit Eichler, Professor Emerita and President of Scientists for the Right to Know agrees, stating, “Public and accessible science has been at the forefront of Canadian social advancement and innovation. As we lose ground with the silencing of scientists and shutting down of organizations, our democracy is weakened. Science is the lifeline to a prosperous future – we need to keep it strong and independent of political influence”.

National events were initiated by Evidence for Democracy. Local events are organized by Scientists for the Right to Know (S4RK) – a new non-partisan organization advocating for science, in cooperation with the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union, and the University of Toronto Faculty Association. The rally is also endorsed by the York University Faculty Association.

As Prime Minister Harper and his cabinet prepare for the next parliamentary session, Evidence for Democracy, S4RK, its allies, and scientists across Canada call on them to demonstrate their commitment to science in the public interest by:

(1) Supporting the open communication of publicly funded science to the public.

(2) Using the best available science and evidence to make the best decisions.

(3) Funding scientific research from basic science through to applied.

WHAT: Stand up for Science Rally

WHEN: 12:00 pm (noon) September 16th

WHERE: Queen’s Park in front of the legislature and events across the country

WHO: Speakers for the Toronto rally include Dr. Scott Prudham, professor in the Department of Geography & Planning and President of the University of Toronto Faculty Association; Dr. Craig Heron, Professor of History at York University and Vice President of the York University Faculty Association; Dr. Margrit Eichler, Professor emerita of OISE/UT and President of Scientists for the Right to Know; and a statement from Dr. John Polanyi, Nobel laureate and professor emeritus in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto.

A complete list of Stand Up for Science events can be found here.

United Republic: Creative Organization Grows from OWS

Democracy takes time, and it’s rough and tedious work, so it’s amazing that in the two short months since the Occupy Movement began an organization has sprung up that will help the movement. United Republic aims to support the Occupy Movement by championing the idea that political decisions should be based on reality and not on the claims of lobbyists.

Lawrence Lessig Welcomes Rootstrikers to United Republic from Rootstrikers on Vimeo.

We aim to transform our nation’s outrage over corruption, gridlock, and cronyism into a powerful political force that can demand and deliver lasting change. We will hold politicians accountable; expose how corporate lobbyists hurt ordinary Americans; build a coalition of supporters from left, right and center; and provide financial support to the best people and organizations working on solving the problem.

Already our coalition is growing. In the fall of 2011, we joined forces with Rootstrikers, a group founded by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig that shares the goal of ending the domination of Big Money over the political process. The group’s name is inspired by the Henry David Thoreau quote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” And we’ve recently merged with the Get Money Out campaign, an effort started by MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan that shares similar goals.

Via bOing

Canadians Like the Occupy Movement

Even the right-leaning Canadian press can’t disagree that the Occupy Movement is a positive thing in and of itself. A new poll reveals that almost 60% of Canadians view the movement in a positive light, while some others tend to have problems because it is “leaderless”.

It’s great to see Canadians (who have not suffered as much as their neighbours to the south) talking about the concerns that the Occupy Movement has brought up. Issues like subsidies to big oil, the problems with current financial markets, joblessness, and even democratic accountability are all being discussed in the mainstream media.

Without the Occupy Movement these issues would in all likely hood not have been brought up. You should go to your locally occupied park and see what you can do to help.

Can’t get to a local occupy camp? Here’s what you can do online.

From the Globe and Mail:

Occupy activists have pitched tents in at least eight Canadian cities, building on a protest movement that started in New York’s financial district nearly two months ago. Participants have no official demands, but are advocating for a variety of social justice and economic issues, including nationalizing Canadian banks, closing tax loopholes for the wealthy and increasing the minimum wage. Most say they are frustrated that a small number of people control most of the world’s wealth.

“For many Canadians, they might not necessarily agree with those views, but they think that they are valid. Those are legitimate concerns that are being raised about our democratic and financial system,” Mr. Nanos said.

The most significant demographic that views the Occupy movement favourably is people who are between 18 and 29 years of age, the poll found, which may be reflective of a tough job market for new workers. Nearly 73 per cent of people under 30 said they have a favourable or somewhat favourable impression of the protests.

Read the rest.

Still don’t know how to help? Here’s 10 simple ways to help the Occupy Movement.

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