Since taking office in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has transformed science in Canada, particularly for government scientists. The author describes and assesses these changes, from revised communication policies for government scientists, to the closure of scientific facilities and offices, to the altered landscape for science funding. In these changes, one can see an importation of a corporate model into governance, with government practices streamlined to ensure near-exclusive focus on the particular agenda of the government. But democracies should not be run like corporations; they require greater openness and acceptance of divergent interests within government science. In particular, government research is often crucial to the assessment of government actions and policies, and citizens require access to this information to be able to assess their government at times of election. The author articulates four implementable principles that can help maintain science’s important place in democratic governance.
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