Friday, January 10, 2014
The War Continues
The Harper cabal's contempt for the environment, science, transparency, and knowledge in general has become the stuff of dark legend, provoking outrage both at home and beyond our borders. That a putative democracy can be behaving in such a totalitarian manner strains credulity. And the latest salvo against science, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' closing of seven of eleven regional libraries housing a priceless accumulation of aquatic research, is being regarded as a tremendous loss by both scientists and the general public:
Peter Wells, an adjunct professor and senior research fellow at the International Ocean Institute at Dalhousie University in Halifax, has this to say:
“I see this situation as a national tragedy, done under the pretext of cost savings, which, when examined closely, will prove to be a false motive”... “A modern democratic society should value its information resources, not reduce, or worse, trash them.”
Even members of the defunct Progressive Conservative Party are speaking out. Tom Siddon, the former federal fisheries minister in Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government, had this to say:
"I call it [closing libraries] Orwellian, because some might suspect that it's driven by a notion to exterminate all unpopular scientific findings that interfere with the government's economic objectives".
Others are reportedly too afraid to speak out.
Another person piercing this veil of darkness and intimidation is The Star's Rick Salutin, whose column today addresses some of the wider implications of Harper's war against enlightenment and progress.
First he presents a poignant picture of scientists' reactions to seeing invaluable knowledge being either carted off to dumpsters or scavenged:
Scientists were practically or actually crying as they watched their beloved atlases etc. hauled away or dispatched to the shredder. The feds say it’s all been digitized but that’s evidently untrue. Postmedia unearthed a document marked secret that had no mention of digitization.
But scientists are not the only ones affected by these depredations:
For Canadians, it’s like the loss of irreplaceable family photos. This country was built on its coasts and waterways via the fishing grounds and fur trade. We are as we are — nature heavy and underpopulated — due to those patterns.
Yet, as Salutin points out, the loss is much larger:
It goes deeper though. It has to do with being human. What humans do is solve problems with intelligence, when they can, and when they fail, try to learn from that and pass it on for the next round. This gives humans their edge. ...There’s something willfully perverse in turning your back on accumulated knowledge in the name of “value for taxpayers.”
And perhaps the greatest casualty is democracy itself, something the Harper reprobates have shown such ongoing contempt for:
Democracy isn’t about everybody casting one vote. That way all you get is a sloppy aggregation of individual opinions. The whole is the sum of its parts, period. Democracy means people consult together, listen, discuss — so that some voices will weigh more than others, and everyone gets a chance to decide which those are. But that can’t happen if the most informed voices from the past and present are stifled or dropped into dumpsters.
So whether we realize it or not, the Harper war against knowledge is part of a larger battle against all of us. If that's not worth fighting, I don't know what is.
Although I featured this picture in a post yesterday, it seems appropriate to run it again:
For further reading on the Harper war against science, check out John Dupuis' piece here.