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An open letter to the world (important stuff)

The current government of Canada has been systematically cutting funding for and communication of science research, especially where it concerns the environment. This is of immense concern to me as a Canadian civil servant, an environmentalist and as a scientist. I just read an open-letter from one of the Envionment Canada scientists who lost her job in last Year's department cuts (thousands of qualified and productive scientists were cut), and I felt it important to share. Normally I'd share a link, but I know most people wouldn't follow it, so I'm going to quote the letter in the hope it gets read.

Ankhanu, a concerned scientist, environmentalist, humanitarian and Canadian.

An Open Letter to the World on the Governmental Destruction of the Environment in Canada wrote:

Dear Everyone,

My name is Naomi. I am Canadian. I worked for Environment Canada, our federal environmental department, for several years before our current Conservative leadership (under Stephen Harper) began decimating environmentalism in Canada. I, along with thousands and thousands of federal science employees lost any hope of future work. Their attitude towards the environment is ‘screw research that contradicts the economic growth, particularly of the oil sands’. They have openly and officially denigrated anyone that supports the environment and opposes big-money oil profit as ‘radicals’ (

Every day in Canada, new information about their vendetta on science and the environment is leaked out. I have been privy to information that is not released to the public because I retain friendships with my ex-colleagues (though my blood pressure hates me for it).

While I was working there, scientists were effectively muzzled from speaking to the media without prior confirmation with Harper’s media team ( – usually denied, and when allowed, totally controlled. Scientists were threatened with job loss if they said anything in an interview that was not exactly what the media team had told them to say. This happened in 2008. The public didn’t find out for years.

During one of my contracts, I was manager of a large, public database set. Contact information for all database managers was available for anyone. I knew what was going on with the information and could answer questions immediately and personally. During this time, I noticed that a media team from Quebec started asking me “What would I say” to certain questions. I answered unwittingly. After a certain period of time, I noticed that all contact information had been removed from the internet –eliminating the possibility that any member of the public could inquire directly about supposedly public data. The Conservatives effectively removed another board from the bridge between science and the public, and I had inadvertently helped.

Since then, the Conservative government has been laying off thousands and thousands of full-fledged scientists that have been performing research for decades (, shutting down entire divisions and radically decimating environmental protection and stewardship in a matter of a couple years.

I am afraid for my country. Canada is the second largest land mass in the world – though our population is small, you can be sure that when a country that encompasses 7% of the world’s land mass, and has the largest coastline in the world says “screw it” to environmental protection, there will be massive global repercussions.

The Conservative leadership have admitted to shutting down environmental research groups on climate change because “they didn’t like the results” (, are decimating the Species at Risk Act (our national equivalent of the IUCN Red list), are decimating habitat protection for fisheries, are getting rid of one of the most important water research facilities in the world (Experimental Lakes Area – has been operational since 1968, and allows for long-term ecosystem studies [] ), are getting rid of almost all scientists that study contaminants in the environment, have backed out of the Kyoto protocol – and the list goes on and on and on.

Entire divisions of scientific research are being eliminated. Our land, our animals, our plants, our environment are losing all the protection that has been building for decades – a contradictory stance to the rest of the world. (Please see their proposed omni-bill that basically tells the environment to go screw itself, while also being presented in an undemocratic, borderline illegal fashion that limits debate on any of the 70+ changes []).

As a professor from the University of Alberta quoted. “I think we have a government that considers science an inconvenience.”

I am writing this to implore every single person to please – look into this subject, and help us, help ourselves. Contact your MP, the Fisheries minister, Stephen Harper, anyone, everyone. I can’t sit by and just post rants on my Facebook page anymore. Share this letter, discuss, anything. Canada is an important nation environmentally, and our leadership doesn’t give a fig for science or the environment. But we do. This Conservative minority leadership was voted in on a thin string in the lowest voter election turnout in recent history, but thanks to our ridiculous voting laws, have 100% full power to do whatever they want. And in the name of short-term monetary oil profit, they have realized that science and the environments is a threat to their goals, and are doing everything possible to eliminate both.

We are depressed, and frustrated, and mad, and need all the help we can get to protect the value of science and our environment. In the age of globalization, intentional stone-age evilness is going to affect everyone. We share our waters, air, and cycles with all of you. Science IS a candle in the dark, and we cannot let greed extinguish that flame. What happens in Canada – will happen everywhere.

Thank you.


A Canadian that cares about science and the environment

2 blog comments below

Certainly, it is a concern. Another concern of course is the economy. The oil is a big income and we know what happens when countries get oil dependent. It is like a monster. If it is slowed down the economy can falter badly and we all know what that means. Therefore we need to progress away from oil production and move to alternatives.

The environmental issue is a complex one and I do see the point of not following guidelines if it is not practical. I think it requires a world wide agreement. Countries like China and India for example I understand need to look at these environmental issues too?

I think there are solutions and perhaps it lies in innovative markets and better technology where the economy will blossom and the ecology will gain. A win win solution. Of course we need to believe this is possible. These though are applications. I am sad about the loss of research and do wonder if this is a permanent loss. What I see happening is a rape of the natural resources when there could be more attention to advancement of alternative solutions. Oil is very 1950’s greasy.
Bluedoll on Sun May 20, 2012 1:05 am
Some losses will be permanent, other losses will be recovered, but, it's VERY difficult to reinstate legislation once it has been lost; it's also very expensive. It's also difficult to reinstate budgets and restaff the many departments that have (so far) been deeply cut by the dogged short-sightedness of the current administration, not to mention the strong losses to institutional knowledge that have just been incurred.

You're right, we do need to explore innovative markets and better technologies to boost the economy. Unfortunately, this is the polar opposite of what our government is doing; the government is, in fact, crippling the nation's ability to conduct the basic research required to head in that direction, instead, relying upon old technologies and limited, dirty resources and established, weakening markets... and telling all the highly qualified Masters and PhDs who lost their jobs to "suck it up" and take a job serving coffee, or working an oil rig.

Canada, effectively shooting itself in the foot with enthusiasm.
Ankhanu on Sun May 20, 2012 11:21 am

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