Local group wants to improve the state of science in Canada

Photo courtesy of Veronika Cencen

For those still keeping track, a federal election is coming up, and we’re all being bombarded by various messages from the candidates who are trying to convince us to mark their name on the ballot.

However, one nonprofit, nonpartisan group called Evidence for Democracy (E4D) believes these campaigns are failing to support science-based decision making and open scientific communication. The group, which was founded in 2013, is completely run by volunteers including two former grad students of the U of O department of biology, executive director Katie Gibbs and Science Pledge ambassador Sue McKee.

“It seemed that there was the need and interest for having an organization promoting public science and evidence-based decision-making,” said Gibbs, who is also one of the group’s founders.

“There weren’t any other groups focusing on these issues. As a scientist with strong interests in policy and politics this is an area I’m really passionate about, so I decided to start E4D,” she continued.

As active supporters, both alumni were present at “Vancouver’s Green Revolution Comes to Ottawa,” an event held by Ecology Ottawa at City Hall on Sept. 16, mainly to further promote the Science Pledge Campaign, which launched this June.

The pledge states: “I believe that all Canadians benefit when governments solicit, collect and use the evidence and expertise needed to make smart policy.”

E4D argues that restrictive censorship and reduced funding are severely damaging scientific progress, and the government is turning its back on the issue.

To address issues like these, this pledge has been made to show support of putting “evidence before politics” in decision-making.

This topic was also up for discussion on campus at an iVote event on Sept. 21. The event featured a panel of experts and an address by David Suzuki on the topic of science and politics.

The pledge is available to sign at various events and online to anyone who supports the cause.

According to Gibbs, the pledge campaign has been extremely successful thus far, and has gained over 2,200 online signatures.

The group will also be hosting an event in partnership with the university’s graduate students’ association (GSAÉD) on Oct. 6 at Café Nostalgica.

You can sign up as a pledge ambassador online, or sign the pledge yourself at https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/en/sciencepledge.