Chronology of the Canadian Conservative government's war on science

No government in Canadian history has been as hostile to science as Stephen Harper's Conservatives. John Dupuis has assembled a brief, brutal chronology of the ways that the Tories have attacked Canadian science. It's no coincidence that this government is so hostile to science, seeing as how its funding and grassroots support come from the tar sands and related Big Oil interests, who want as little known as possible about the impact of their dirty industry on the planet we all share.

This is a brief chronology of the current Conservative Canadian government’s long campaign to undermine evidence-based scientific, environmental and technical decision-making. It is a government that is beholden to big business, particularly big oil, and that makes every attempt to shape public policy to that end. It is a government that fundamentally doesn’t believe in science. It is a government that is more interested in keeping its corporate masters happy than in protecting the environment.

As is occasionally my habit, I have pulled together a chronology of sorts. It is a chronology of all the various cuts, insults, muzzlings and cancellations that I’ve been able to dig up. Each of them represents a single shot in the Canadian Conservative war on science. It should be noted that not every item in this chronology, if taken in isolation, is necessarily the end of the world. It’s the accumulated evidence that is so damning.

The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment (Thanks, John!)

(Image: US Tar Sands exploratory mission, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from beforeitstarts's photostream)


    1. It is, pretty much. Alberta could be seen as Texas of the North: cattle and oil.

  1. “It’s no coincidence that this government is so hostile to science, seeing
    as how its funding and grassroots support come from the tar sands and
    related Big Oil interests…”

    For the record..

    Definition of grassroots

    ordinary people regarded as the main body of an organization’s membership:
    Oxford Dictionary (
    pertaining to or constituting a base or basis( to the ordinary people as distinct from the active leadership of a party
    or organization: used esp of the rank-and-file members of a political party, or of
    the voters themselves relating to the origin or essentials
    ( speaking, grassroots refers to individuals,small groups and communities. Grassroots does not typically include either Big Oil or the ‘tarsands’ whatever that may mean. Moreover, in terms of fundraising, neither Big Oil or corporations and companies involved in mining and/or processing the ‘tarsands’ into usable petroleum products, do not directly  financially support the Conservative Party of Canada. In Canada, it is illegal for corporations or labour unions to donate to candidates or political parties at the federal level. Since 2006, political parties have received the majority of the funds via a public subsidy (although the subsidy will end prior to the next election). Individuals are limited to $1,200 Cdn (2013-2014).Lobbying is certainly legal in Canada and Big Oil and the ‘tarsands’ certainly seem to have the Prime Minister’s ear but no more so now then at any other time in Canadian history. The federal government has supported the development of the ‘tarsands’ directly and indirectly from the start, both through public financing and tax incentives.The point is, at least financially, that Big Oil and the ‘tarsands’ do not directly fund the  CPC. Does Big Oil indirectly assist the CPC? Sure, but no more so than unions support the NDP or Big Auto has supported the Liberal Party of Canada. That’s the price of living in a free country. All of this information can be found easily online.Finally,  I get that many people do not like the ‘tarsands’ – most of whom know little about it – and believe that is bad for the environment, the climate and the planet. Moreover, many of these same people support efforts to prevent the building of Keystone II from Canada to the United States as a means of curtailing ‘tarsands’ development. No problem, Asia will be happy to buy it if the US doesn’t. However, working to prevent the building of an oil pipeline, regardless of its contents, as a means of fighting climate change or protecting the planet is self-delusion. Opting for a supply-side solution – blocking the transit of oil from Canada – to what is essentially. a demand-side problem (the need for that oil) denies both the problem and the solution.  Blocking Canadian oil from getting into the US will not slow down the consumption of oil in the United States  as demand for oil is highly inelastic. It may raise the price of gas at the pump, temporarily, but the US oil consumer – you, me and everyone else – will simply find another supplier in the short term. Fix the demand and you automatically fix the supply. No demand, no pipeline. In short WE ARE BIG OIL.WE ARE THE TARSANDS.

    1. And there’s the problem in one, tight little post. 

      ” I get that many people do not like the ‘tarsands’ – most of whom know little about it – and believe that the ‘tarsands’ are bad for the environment, the climate and the planet, not to mention ducks. ”

      And you, what do you think? Do you think the tarsands are good for the environment, the climate and the planet? Do ducks like them, or did you just mention ducks to show how minor and insignificant they are in this giant world of people making money?

      I think that it’s fair to say most people are fine with the use of fossil fuel, but look – the oil’s not going to go bad if we just leave it in the sands for a while until we figure out a better way to extract it. Every year the technology gets better and more efficient – so what’s the hurry? 30 years ago they were just beginning to figure out the could even get to the oil. Now we’re like a 5 year old in the kitchen attempting to make  breakfast. Why rush to build a pipeline now, when we could build it in 10-20 years when it’ll be actually/even safe(r)? The oil won’t be less-valuable then. It’ll be more valuable than ever.

      It seems to me that the reason people oppose a lot of this development is because of the greed that appears to be motivating it. The oilsand projects are destroying the area where they’re extracting it. The rivers are getting polluted, the ducks are dying and people are getting cancer. Not, “might be”, they are. And for what? 


      So why not slow things down and do it right? We could do it without wrecking the environment, killing people and animals and still make profit both for our economy and individuals. We all want jobs. We all want to do business with the world. But we also want to keep Canada pristine. The Harper Government (just that he named the government after himself should tell you a lot),  has a much different vision of what that looks like, than do most Canadians. And it ain’t pretty.

    2. What @duncancreamer:disqus said plus opposition to the pipeline also comes from Canadians who wonder why Canadians can’t refine their own oil in Canada then ship the finished products? Wouldn’t that be better for our nation to keep jobs in Canada? Why do we need to pipe the sludge all the way to Texas just to be refined?
      The environmental side is only part of the puzzle, there are other reasons to be questioning what is going on at the tar sands. You have a good reasoned argument with the exception of how you characterize your opponents.

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