Harper is a pox on science in Canada. (Source: McLeans ) I was recently reminded of the Canadian Government's Open Access Policy on...
|Harper is a pox on science in Canada. (Source: McLeans)|
On the face of it, this seems perfectly normal and laudable. The 12 month delay is intended to give publishers their chance to rip their pound of flesh from various institutions in the form of subscription fees, etc. (That's a whole other problem.) Thereafter, work paid for by the Feds needs to be available to everyone. The policy even allows the expense of publishing in Open Access journals to be recouped from research grants.
Except that what the Harper fascists give with one hand, they take back with the other. That is to say, it's one thing to publish your research, but Harper and his totalitarian cronies are literally preventing important research from being done*. You can't publish research you can't carry out. And if der Führer Harper controls what does get published, then all this becomes is a propaganda machine for his reactionary, fear-mongering policies.
This is really a new high for Conservative hypocrisy, and a new low for scholarly research in Canada.
I was going to end this post here, but I must take a moment to comment on one especially pernicious ass-wipe, Andrew Leach, who wrote a staggeringly misleading article for Maclean's in 2014. In it, he writes:
"To speak out publicly against government policy is, by the current definition, fundamentally at odds with the role of a public servant in our democracy. Public servants are expected to provide impartial advice to the policy development process and loyal implementation of government policies once decisions are taken. They are not supposed to critique that policy publicly when it doesn’t align with their interpretation of the evidence or their beliefs with respect to how that evidence should be weighed. Allowing public servants to be openly critical of government decisions – whether based on scientific evidence or any other criteria – turns the relationship between the bureaucracy and their democratically elected masters on its head, undermining the trust essential to an effective working relationship."Bullshit!
A public servant's first professional ethical responsibility is to the public he or she serves, not to the political class and its bureaucracy. "Loyal implementation"? Why? If a decision is taken that is not in the public's best interest, then it is absolutely obligatory that public servants speak out as vigorously as possible. That's because our loyalty (yes, I'm a public servant) is to the public, not to the government. This kind of right-wing false rhetoric is what we should expect from the American Republicants, not from our own, presumably more measured "leaders." Leach then tries to subvert the whole scientific process by writing about "interpretation of evidence or their beliefs." We're not talking about interpretation and belief here. We're talking about scientific publications - we're talking about the actual evidence itself! He wraps up that paragraph with a startling bit of sophistry that, the more one read it, turns ever more into the word salad it actually is. Where does the bureaucracy come into it? How does saying that Canada's climate change record, for instance, is abysmal relate at all to the bureaucracy? And what trust is he actually talking about? The trust between bureaucrats and politicians? Between the people and the bureaucracy? Or the government? Trust is based on the ability to predict behaviour. How does a scientific statement of fact alter that?
Let's be clear, Harper has destroyed data, shut down research centres and programs, and utterly disregarded the urging of experts to act on a number of issues. As far as science is concerned, there's little separating today's Canada from cold-war USSR.
* Here's just a few references:
* Here's just a few references:
- Democracy Watch
- Muzzling of federal scientists widespread, survey suggests
- Evidence For Democracy
- When Science Goes Silent
- Prestigious science journal slams Harper government’s muzzle on federal scientists
- Canada's Government Won't Let Its Own Climate Scientists Speak to the Press
- ...and many others easily found with The Great and Powerful Google.