Where Does Science Stand?



Canadian political parties' stance on science in the 2019 federal election.



by Vi-An Dang. Published on October 10, 2019.





The election period in any country is inevitably a high-pressure time. Leading politicians are rushing to convince as many people as possible that they are the best option, and citizens are expected to sort through all their claims to make a measured decision. It’s easy to feel discouraged when faced with this mountain of information—but it’s not completely hopeless. Several news outlets (CBC, Maclean’s, Bloomberg, The National Post) have made guides outlining the main parties’ platforms for different issues, and leader debates such as the one on October 7 (in English) and October 10 (in French) are meant to give voters a clearer idea of each party’s mandates. Issues at the forefront in the media, such as the state of our climate, the Trans Mountain pipeline, Trudeau’s brownface, Scheer’s views on abortion, are easier to keep up with. But what does the future look like for science and research in Canada? We’ve gathered each party’s policies on these topics and outlined them below, and will be updating them as more are released.






SCIENCE FUNDING



Liberal

The 2019 Federal Budget had funding allocated for research through specific organisations: Stem Cell Network, Brain Canada Foundation, Terry Fox Research, Ovarian Cancer Canada, Genome Canada, Let’s Talk Science, as well as the TRIUMF physics research lab. They also promise to establish a Strategic Science Fund in 2022-23 that would invest in research recommended by third-party science and research organisations. [source]


Conservative

No specific policies to date.


NDP

No specific policies to date.


Bloc Québecois

No specific policies to date.


Green

The Green Party promises to invest in research, although they don’t specify what kind of research, and how much. They also promise to increase funding for research grants, and particularly climate-related NSERC grants. [source]






SCIENCE COMMUNICATION



Liberal

The Liberal Party promises to take on open science in the upcoming year, which would make publications and research data more publicly available. The goal would be to have all federally-funded research freely accessible to the public. [source]


Conservative

No specific policies to date.


NDP

No specific policies to date.


Bloc Québecois

No specific policies to date.


Green

The Green Party wants to create a “portal” where research used to create government policies, as well as other government science, would be made accessible and digestible to the general public. They also promise to make all publicly-funded research open-access. [source]






SCIENCE INTEGRITY



Liberal

The Liberal Party has some ongoing projects. They are working on a Policy for Scientific Integrity, which will detail the principles of integrity in research funded by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). They also commit to working with Indigenous groups to explore traditional Indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge. There are also plans to work with national academies and youth advisory committees. [source]


Conservative

No specific policies to date.


NDP

No specific policies to date.


Bloc Québecois

No specific policies to date.


Green

The Green Party promises to implement all of the recommendations made in the Fundamental Science Review, published in 2017, on how to improve fundamental research in Canada. [source]






OTHER



Though the NDP and the Bloc Québecois have not outlined specific plans on how they would handle science and research in the government, both parties have stated they will use current science to build their environmental and climate policies. The Conservative Party has yet to release an official platform guide and has not addressed these topics in their campaign so far.


As a final note: remember that your vote goes toward electing who will represent your riding in the Canadian Parliament. Find out who your local candidates are here, get to know where they stand on the issues that you care about, contact them to let them know what matters to you. Vote for who you believe will represent you best. Happy election season!