More than half of government scientists in Canada—53%—do not feel they can speak freely to the media about their work, even after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government eased restrictions on what they can say publicly, according to a survey by a union that represents more than 16,000 federal scientists. Read more in Science.
Mona Nemer, a cardiology researcher and vice president of research at the University of Ottawa, has been named Canada’s new chief science adviser by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Scientists need to have a voice,” Trudeau said, making the announcement in Ottawa today.
Nemer’s office will have a CA$2 million budget, and she will report to both Trudeau and Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan. Her mandate includes providing scientific advice to government ministers, helping keep government-funded science accessible to the public, and protecting government scientists from being muzzled.She will also deliver an annual report to the Prime Minister and science minister on the state of federal government science. Read more in Science.
To reinvigorate its science base, Canada needs to “reinvest” almost CAD$500 million in basic, investigator-led research over the next 4 years, according to a long-awaited review of the country’s science and innovation landscape released today.
“A crucial shortcoming in the system is the level of support for independent investigator-initiated research,” David Naylor, a former president of the University of Toronto in Canada who led the nine-person review panel, told ScienceInsider. “That support has been squeezed for about a decade.” Read more in Science.
Scientists working for the Canadian government have successfully negotiated a clause in their new contract that guarantees their right to speak to the public and the media about science and their research, without needing approval from their managers.
“Employees shall have the right to express themselves on science and their research, while respecting the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector … without being designated as an official media spokesperson,” the new clause states. Read more in Science.
Israel’s 11 botanical gardens are scrambling to cope with deep cuts in funding from the government’s agricultural ministry. Government spending on the gardens, which host research and education programs and are often associated with universities, is down by more than 50% this year. That’s a reprieve from a 98% cut that the ministry announced last year, but still a major blow for the gardens, which rely heavily on government funds to pay for basic operations.
“There were times this year when we couldn’t afford potting soil, or even printer paper,” says Tal Levanony, curator of Tel Aviv University’ in Israel’s botanical garden. “I’m not sure how the researchers will cope without support.” Read more in Science.
Experiment aims to show whether forgoing patents and freeing up data can boost neuroscience research.
Guy Rouleau, the director of McGill University’s Montreal Neuro logical Institute (MNI) and Hospital in Canada, is frustrated with how slowly neuroscience research translates into treatments. “We’re doing a really shitty job,” he says. “It’s not because we’re not trying; it has to do with the complexity of the problem.”
So he and his colleagues at the renowned institute decided to try a radical solution. Starting this year, any work done there will conform to the principles of the “open-science” movement—all results and data will be made freely available at the time of publication, for example, and the institute will not pursue patents on any of its discoveries. Read more in Science.
The new Canadian government seems poised to fulfill a wish of social scientists by bringing back the country’s mandatory long-form census.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was sworn in this morning, and members of his Liberal party expect him to act promptly to meet one of his campaign promises. Such a move would also signal his commitment to reversing many of the policies of the former Conservative government under longtime Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Read more in Science.
One scientist will be among the new faces in the 338-member House of Commons: Richard Cannings, a bird biologist, author, and former curator of the vertebrate museum at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Cannings, a member of Canada’s left-of-center New Democratic Party (NDP), will represent British Columbia’s (BC’s) South Okanagan—West Kootenay riding, or district. The NDP now holds the third-largest number of seats in Parliament, behind the Liberals and the Conservatives.
Cannings recently took a break from a Sunday afternoon mayonnaise-making session to talk with ScienceInsider about how he hopes to improve the lot of science and environmental issues during his time in Ottawa. Read more in Science.
Many Canadian scientists are celebrating the result of yesterday’s federal election, which saw Stephen Harper’s Conservative government defeated after nearly 10 years in power.
The center-left Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau won an unexpected majority government, taking 184 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons. The Conservatives will form the opposition with 99 seats, while the left-leaning New Democratic Party fell to third place with just 44 seats.
“Many scientists will be pleased with the outcome,” says Jim Woodgett, director of research at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. “The Liberal party has a strong record in supporting science.” Read more in Science.