There are days when the Harper government's disingenuous agenda is easily discerned. Yesterday, Harper was at an event in Hamilton touting the imperative importance of science in a modern society. Later in the day, the Harper government unleashed a devastating blow to Environment Canada, "eliminating biologists, chemists, engineers, meteorologists and physical scientists", leaving people wondering if the agency can function properly. Rhetoric meets reality, another example of what almost amounts to a war against science, not "belt tightening" but a government with dangerously misplaced priorities.
Lost in the debate- at least as far as public consciousness-, all these "cuts" aren't necessarily a result of economic circumstance, but more correctly a by-product of irresponsible revenue cuts, in this case science is paying the price for slashing the GST, going too far with corporate tax cuts, etc. I'm no economist, but when you bring in less revenue, at the same time you ramp up spending on your pet priorities, you leave a huge fiscal gap and someone has to pay the price. This situation exists apart from an economic downturn, it is an institutional shortfall created by this government and their policies.
The massive cuts at Environment Canada follow a now emerging trend, wherein pullbacks in science will offset increases in military toys and backward prison policies. Ballooning costs to fund this government's justice agenda, within a reduced revenue environment, means something has to give to have any semblance of fiscal credibility. Science gets the short stick once again, the same people Harper lauded yesterday get turfed later and their valuable work lost in a regressive move for a supposed advanced society. Under the guise of necessary austerity- which is really a by-product of reckless priorities- this backward government GUTS scientific inquiry. As a result the notion of advancement- intellectual pursuit providing a great understanding of our environment- is fundamentally handicapped. Not terribly surprising, since the priorities this government is "blowing the wad" on have no empirical underpinning; the math, the statistics, the expenditure, the "evidence" experts and scientists rely on is absent. There is something sadly poetic then about cutting things that actually rely on a model you don't adhere to anyways with your other ideologically driven priorities. Let's not mince words, we are in the midst of a "war" on science, scientists, expert opinion, the educated class, they are systematically being marginalized by dogmatic ideologues and their odd adversarial disposition.