Lamenting the "phasing out" of the National Science Advisor

I just read this over on the Quirks & Quarks blog:

No science in the PM’s ear: Canada dismisses National Science Adviser at its peril

Apparently “Prime Minister”1 Stephen Harper is eliminating the position of National Science Adviser, less than 4 years after the position was created.

I remember when Dr. Art Carty was appointed as Canada’s first ever National Science Adviser, the office of which was situated in the Privy Council Office2, and there were high hopes among the scientific community that there was finally someone to advise the Prime Minister on scientific issues. I mean, it was 2004 and we hadn’t had a science adviser to the P.M. before? Wtf? Shortly after his appointment, I got to meet Dr. Carty at a science outreach conference; he sat with me and a few of my friends during one of the conference sessions, during which my friend Erika dropped the F-bomb in front of him. True story.

Soon after “P.M.” S.H. took power, the Office of the N.S.A. was moved down from the Privy Council Office to Industry Canada, meaning that the N.S.A. was now to report to the Minister of Industry Canada, not directly to the P.M. This move happened with little fanfare as far as I can tell, as I hadn’t even heard3 about this move until I read these new stories about the N.S.A. being eliminated altogether. Or, in the government’s lingo, “phased out.”

But really, why would the P.M. need someone to advise them on scientific issues anyway?  It’s not like science is important or anything… I mean, climate change, stem cells, alternative energy, mad cow, bird flu, biotechnology… these things never come up in matters of policy, right?

1Sorry, but much like I have trouble calling the Reform-Party-In-Sheep’s-Clothing the “Conservatives” or calling Gordon Campbell’s party the “Liberals,” I just can’t bring myself to think of S.H. as the P.M.
2 Meaning that he reported directly to the P.M.
3And I’m usually up on such things.

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Category: politics | science