On the first day of the 2017 Canadian Science Policy Conference (Nov. 1 -3, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario), Governor General Julie Payette’s speech encouraged listeners to grapple with science deniers, fake news, and more (from a Nov. 2, 2017 article by Mia Rabson in the Huffington Post, Canada edition),
Payette was the keynote speaker at the ninth annual Canadian Science Policy Convention in Ottawa Wednesday night [Nov. 1, 2017] where she urged her friends and former colleagues to take responsibility to shut down the misinformation about everything from health and medicine to climate change and even horoscopes that has flourished with the explosion of digital media.
“Can you believe that still today in learned society, in houses of government, unfortunately, we’re still debating and still questioning whether humans have a role in the Earth warming up or whether even the Earth is warming up, period,” she asked, her voice incredulous.
She generated giggles and even some guffaws from the audience when she said too many people still believe “taking a sugar pill will cure cancer if you will it good enough and that your future and every single one of the people here’s personalities can be determined by looking at planets coming in front of invented constellations.”
Payette was trained as a computer engineer and later became an astronaut and licensed pilot and in 1999 was the first Canadian to board the International Space Station.
Mia Rabson in another Nov. 2, 2017 article (this time for 680news.com) presents responses to the speech from various interested parties,
According to popular Canadian astrologer Georgia Nicols, Canada’s Governor General should be doing what she can to “keep the peace” with loved ones today and avoid the “planetary vibe” that is urging people to engage in power struggles and disputes.
The advice, contained in Julie Payette’s Nov. 2  horoscope on Nicols’ website, might have come a day late, though Payette likely wouldn’t have listened to it anyway.
The Governor General made clear in a speech to scientists at an Ottawa convention Wednesday she has a very low opinion of the validity of horoscopes, people who believe in creationism or those who don’t believe in climate change.
Emmett Macfarlane, a political professor at the University of Waterloo said nothing stops a governor general from stating opinions and while there have been unwritten traditions against it, Payette’s most recent predecessors did not always hold their tongues.
Conservative political strategist Alise Mills said Payette went way over the line with her speech, which she characterized as not only political but “mean-spirited.”
“I definitely agree science is key but I think there is a better way to do that without making fun of other people,” Mills said.
There isn’t a lot of data on horoscope and astrology beliefs in Canada but a 2005 Gallup poll suggested around one in four Canadians believed in astrology.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t seem to have any issue with what Payette said, saying his government and Canadians understand the value of science.
Mills said Payette wasn’t just promoting science, she was mocking people with religious beliefs, and specifically, evangelical Christians who don’t believe evolutionary science.
Astrologer Nicols said she had “no wish to take on a woman who is as accomplished as Julie Payette,” whom she notes is a “feisty Libra with three planets in Scorpio.”
But she did suggest Payette would be better to stick to what she knows.
“Astrology is not the stuff of horoscopes in newspapers, albeit I do write them,” wrote Nicols in an e-mail. “It is actually a complex study based on mathematics. Not fairy dust falling from the stars.”
There is one thing I find a bit surprising, Payette doesn’t seem to have taken on the vaccination issue. In any event, it looks like the conference had an exciting start.