From all the election hoopla in the United States, Canadians would be forgiven for thinking our American friends were about to head to the polls tomorrow, not in November.
What does politics have to do with science? Plenty. Governments provide funding to scientific institutions and thus get to decide what kind of research gets funded and what does not.
One of the most obvious examples has been in the United States under President George W. Bush. His administration has ignored scientific advice and downplayed the voices of scientists who disagreed with its point of view — even to the extent of censoring key documents and removing scientists who disagreed.
The non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists has a petition, signed by 12,000 scientists, calling on the government to restore scientific integrity.
Naturally, this has many scientists in the U.S. watching the American race closely. A recent edition of the journal Science even profiled candidates according to where they stand on science-related issues.
With Canadians possibly heading to the polls for a federal election this year or next, we should be asking similar questions of our own candidates.
Voter apathy is a serious problem in Canada, where voter turnout is shrinking. That’s not good for science and it’s not good for democracy. If you care about the future of science and the future of our country, make sure you, too, get to know your candidates. Ultimately, the science we pursue is based on our values, so this is your chance to mould the shape of things to come.
Take the Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.