9 am PST (12 noon EST) today (July 10, 2012), scientists in Ottawa are staging a mock funeral for a ‘Death of Evidence’ protest. (ETA July 10, 2012 10:4e am PST, here’s a link to the CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] liveblog of the rally.) Natalie Stechyson wrote a July 8, 2012 article for the Ottawa Citizen describing the proposed event,
A funeral procession — complete with a coffin, black-clad mourners and a scythe-wielding grim reaper — will make its way to Parliament Hill Tuesday as hundreds of scientists from across Canada rally in protest of federal science cuts.
Members of Canada’s scientific community are staging the rally to mourn the “death of evidence” in what the rally’s organizers say is the federal government’s war on science.
The cuts, according to the organizers’ media release, are being imposed on critical research programs in Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, Statistics Canada, through the closure of Experimental Lakes Area, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory and the First Nations Statistical Institute, and through the elimination of the National Science Adviser and National Round Table on Environment and Economy.
It would be easy to say that scientists are upset because the cuts are resulting job losses, but the issues are much more fundamental than that, Findlay [co-organizer Scott Findlay, associate professor of biology and former director the University of Ottawa’s Institute of the Environment] said.
US environment correspondent, Suzanne Goldenberg wrote a July 9, 2012 blog posting in the UK’s Guardian newspaper noting (Note: I have removed some links),
Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, faces a widening revolt by the country’s leading scientists against sweeping cuts to government research labs and broadly pro-industry policies.
The scientists plan to march through Ottawa in white lab coats on Tuesday in the second big protest in a month against the Harper government’s science and environmental agenda.
Harper is accused of pushing through a slew of policies weakening or abolishing environmental protections – with an aim of expanding development of natural resources such as the Alberta tar sands.
His government is also accused of jeopardising Canada’s scientific reputation by shutting down the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a research station that produced critical evidence to help stop acid rain.
The prime minister’s office refused to comment on the protests or the budget cuts. The environment minister, Peter Kent, also declined to respond.
… the cuts that seem to have galvanised the protests on Tuesday was the government’s decision to shut down the Experimental Lakes Area in March 2013.
Since the decision first trickled out – as a government leak – the Harper government has faced widening criticism in Canadian media.
Scientists say the closure, due in March 2013, would rob researchers of a rare chance to conduct science on a real-life scale – not just in a laboratory flask, said Smol [Prof John Smol, a freshwater lake biologist at Queen’s University in Kingston].
Over the years, it has provided critical evidence on the causes of acid rain, and the effects on fish and their habitats of dumping fertilisers, detergents, or mercury.
“Any water quality problem we have on the planet, the research started out there,” Smol said. “I think we need that information to get solid policy to deal with our environmental problems.”
Use your cell phone or a digital camera to take photo of you holding a candle. If possible, incorporate a science-related tool or symbol in your photo (calculator, test tube, graduated cylinder, periodic table, magnifying glass, compass, goggles, etc).
You can upload that photo to the Candlelight Vigil: Death of Evidence group on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/groups/solidaritydoe/ or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will post those photos on the website at www.deathofevidence.ca and will send a message with all of these photos to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The theatrical elements of the Death of Evidence rally seem to have been inspired by a May 15, 2012 protest held in London, England (from the May 15, 2012 posting by Adam Smith for the UK Guardian newspaper),
More than 100 scientists took part in a mock Victorian funeral procession in Westminster on Tuesday morning to protest against a science funding policy they claim “puts the future of British science in mortal danger”.
The scientists staged a rally outside parliament before delivering a petition in a coffin to Downing Street. Around 25 scientists also met their MPs to ask them to sign an early day motion about their concerns.