Congratulations, Canada!

Canadians always make such a fuss about being distinct from their southern neighbor, but you know it’s all a pretense. They want to be just like the US, they admire and respect us so much. And here’s the evidence: they’re getting rid of the position of science advisor to their government. Just like the United States of America … who needs reality-based advising on some of the most important issues of the age? Oh, sure, the Canadian scientists are unhappy about it, but the wailing and lamentations of American scientists are everywhere, too, and who cares? And it seems Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an evangelical Christian himself … just like all of our national leaders.

Look on the bright side: it means unity. We are forming one great northern continent, unified in our ignorance, led by uninformed dumbasses. Brothers and sisters to the north, welcome!


  1. says

    I’m curious to know why the office of Science Adviser is being sacked… Is it because of a once-hidden anti-intellectual stance by the Prime Minister, or is it simply a matter of maintaining the budget, with science and technological matters getting the short end of the fiscal stick?

  2. Spinoza says

    PZ, it’s because we’re stuck with a Conservative federal gov’t. Just like you guys!

    … Luckily, education is governed at the provincial level, and here in Ontario, we’ve got Liberals in power trying to reverse 8 years of Conservative retardation.

  3. says

    I suspect it’s the former. Harper doesn’t want to know that extracting oil from Alberta’s Tar Sands takes more energy than it produces and is the biggest producer of CO2 in Canada; that abstinence-only sex education doesn’t work; and that abortion saves the lives of living, breathing, women. He being in tune with the U.S.

  4. mdowe says

    This is just embarrassing … I was kind of hoping you Americans wouldn’t notice. Hopefully we won’t give our wing-nuts a second term.

    If this bunch ever got a majority government then it might be time to move south in hopes of catching the Dems on the ascendance … anybody need a biology/computer science person down there?

  5. says

    Always preview. Somehow, trying to make “likes” italic made it disappear in “He LIKES being in tune with the U.S.”

    Anyway, I’m turning my gaze away from the dinosaurs of the north and going to visit the Dinosaurs of China at the Miami Science Museum: “14 enormous articulated dinosaur skeletons and 52 spectacular individual specimens, including 8 of the most rare feathered dinosaurs and birds from the fossil beds at Liaoning.” More on my visit later.

  6. raven says

    How long until Canada gets sick with an outbreak of fundamentalist creationism? Or theocracy? Rot has a tendency to spread and Canada has a long border with the USA and receives a lot of US media. I was in Manitoba once and it seemed that there were far more US TV channels than Canadian.

    Canadians like to pretend they are immune to our slide down the slope of history. Don’t bet on it.

    The old joke. What was the #1 hit song in Saskatoon when Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller” was #1 in the states?

    Who knows or cares? You can bet 2 months later though that it was Michael Jackson’s song, “Thriller”.

  7. Richard says

    The PM comes from the loony Christian heartland of Canada — Alberta, where all of the oil is. What is it with oil and idiocy? They seem to be joined at the hip.

    I think this is to do with the Alberta tar sands and global warming. Scientists keep telling the PM all of these inconvenient facts about how Canada is raping its environment and massively adding greenhouse gases to the atmousphere. The messenger had to be shot.

  8. rrt says

    From the article I get the impression that the council “replacing” the advisor’s position will include major corporate/industrial executives, and won’t have the same sort of access to the administration. Makes it sound like they wanted more of a “pet” that would speak when spoken to, and then to say mainly what they want to hear.

  9. me says

    NEWSFLASH (since some are still fooled by mislabeling and doublespeak):

    Dick/Bush ARE NOT REALLY REPUBLICANS, nor are they Conservatives. They are NeoConservatives (new conservatives?) the name aside, look at their actions…. MORE GOVERNMENT AND INFRINGING ON OUR RIGHTS is hardly to be described as the Republican or Conservative stance.

  10. Richard Harris says

    Stephen Harper is an evangelical Christian himself

    Jumpin’ Jeezus! And his name’s Steve!

  11. says

    It’s not for fiscal reasons. Canada has run budget surpluses for the past 10 years resulting in a decrease in the national debt of about 23% since 1998. There’s no doubt Harper would like to run a Republican-style government, but he’s also aware that to retain power in Canada a government has to appeal to the large majority of voters who occupy the political centre, which is rather different from what passes for the political centre in the US.

    Canada has four national political parties, and although the smallest of these (Green Party) is not represented in the House of Commons, they were able to attract 4.5% of the vote in our most recent federal election. Three of these four parties (Green, NDP, and Liberal) can be broadly described as centre-left, though of course there are important differences among them; only the Conservatives might be considered right of centre, and it could be argued they were able to form the government (with only 36.3% of the vote) because of vote splitting among the other parties. This is further complicated in Quebec, where a separatist party (Bloc Quebecois) is quite popular. The BQ is also probably the most leftist of all five parties.

    Notably, then, in the last federal election almost two-thirds of Canadians voted for a political party that falls somewhere in the centre-left end of the Canadian political spectrum. Recognizing that this two-dimensional left-right axis is a little of an oversimplication, I would suggest that even though the Conservatives are considered right of centre in Canada, most members of that party would find themselves more at home among Democrats than Republicans if magically transported across the border. Viewed through the lens of Canadian politics, Americans have a choice between a right-wing party and a far-right-wing party.

    Finally, I think this is an issue where Canada is not so much different from the US, as we are more like the rest of the developed world. It’s the US that is different. Just like the letter zed – everybody else in the world says it correctly!

  12. Kseniya says

    MORE GOVERNMENT AND INFRINGING ON OUR RIGHTS is hardly to be described as the Republican or Conservative stance.

    Oh? Where have you been for the past 7 years?

    Actually, I agree with you in principle: There is an ideological distinction between Conservative and NeoConservative. But who voted for the Neo’s? Twice? If they walk like ducks, talk like ducks, and support the ducks and the policies of the ducks…

    However, claiming they are not “REAL REPUBLICANS” and that anyone who can’t see that isn’t paying attention is a flagrant example of No True Scotsman. The Neocons are Republicans, and have been for forty years. The Republican Party embraces them. The Republicans nominated them – twice – against “real” Republicans and “real” Conservatives. All four Republican presidents elected since the Eisenhower era have employed them at the highest levels of government.

    The Neocons are what the Republican Party has become. That’s the reality. Deal with it.

    Baseball is what we were. Football is what we have become. ~Mary McGrory

  13. Harry says

    I am not sure that unity will come of having religious nutters in charge of both the US and Canada. More likely are some great religious wars, as has happened throughout history, because of some minor detail of belief. Was Mary really a virgin? blasphemer, godless heather, devil worshiping spawn of Satan, corrupter of our nations innocent children, This means war!!!

  14. says

    NEWSFLASH (since some are still fooled by mislabeling and doublespeak):
    Dick/Bush ARE NOT REALLY REPUBLICANS, nor are they Conservatives. They are NeoConservatives (new conservatives?) the name aside, look at their actions…. MORE GOVERNMENT AND INFRINGING ON OUR RIGHTS is hardly to be described as the Republican or Conservative stance

    Sounds like we need to talk about “actually existing conservatism” and “actually existing Republicans.”

  15. says

    I’m an American-Canadian who has lived in “the loony Christian heartland of Canada” for the past 13 years — and quite a change coming from NYC, too. The big surprise was the very small impression this news has made in the media and the general public, at least so far. The host of one of our family’s favorite radio science shows, “Quirks & Quarks” on CBC, wrote this the other day,

    Between global warming and the ramifications of the oil business in this province and elsewhere, we can ill afford the loss of any extra voice of reason to the Prime Minister. As for oil and idiocy, well, it’s money and idiocy. When people make money the bottom line, all reason goes out the window.

  16. says

    What is it with oil and idiocy? They seem to be joined at the hip.

    It’s feasible that the two are linked. If a region has huge mineral wealth, it will generate money regardless of other factors. Therefore, there is a lesser incentive for innovation, and so the value attached to knowledge and education is reduced.

    This has been proposed as an explanation for the backwardness of the Middle East. Science and industry are negligible, but that doesn’t matter, as the oil money will keep flowing in.

  17. Bryson Brown says

    Certainly Mr. Harper counts as a neo-con, with all its contradictory elements: economics conducted as if only the rich and the corporate sector matter (and to hell with the environment), authoritarianism and militarism in foreign policy, all washed down with ‘family values’ and ‘law and order’. Given a majority, he’d make a lot of drastic changes up here. Happily, this seems to be the main reason he can’t get his polling numbers high enough to actually win a majority.

  18. Dean says

    “Harper doesn’t want to know that extracting oil from Alberta’s Tar Sands takes more energy than it produces”

    Monado, I’d like to see a reference for that statement. While it certainly takes more energy to extract than pumping oil wells in Saudi Arabia, I am skeptical that your statement is correct without some backup.

  19. Pareto says

    At least we aren’t likely to have anything like a theocracy here. Canada has its reputation of tolerance and multiculturalism particularly among its citizens and no party is likely to break it in any major way.

  20. Gigi says

    They’ve been replacing/gutting anything science-based for a while. At the end of March, funding ceases for the Canadian Health Network, a coalition of universities, hospitals, the Public Health Agency of Canada, major health organizations, and libraries. Most inconveniently, they make statements about links between behaviour and health outcome, something we cannot have. How else are they to please their friends in Pharma?

    Much better to have the information strictly controlled on a gov’t-based site.

    Plus, it just makes it easier to make claims like this one:

    “Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said Sunday he had no way of anticipating the Chalk River reactor crisis, despite an auditor general report sent to him in the fall that warned of lingering safety issues at the site.”

  21. says

    That’s a great explanation, hyperdeath. As a resident of said dumbfuck province, I’d like to add an accelerating factor: a sense of entitlement.

    There’s a tendency here to ascribe the wealth from oil revenues to our sublime business acumen rather than to the luck of living upon what was once a seabed in the Cretaceous. I’ve heard this argument used to justify nearly every conservative government policy (“Yeah, well if they’re so wrong about healthcare, then how come they’re running such surplus budgets?”).

    It’s especially baffling since most of the economic geniuses round here couldn’t spell “sublime business acumen” if they had a staffer to plagiarise the phrase off the internet for them.

  22. Graculus says

    There’s no way Canada is going the way of the US. Quebec *is* good for something.

    Plus the ReformaTories are skating on thin ice, a vote of no confidence would kill them dead. Remember, it’s a multi-party parlimentary system… unpleasant buggers are easier to get rid of.

  23. says

    I suppose they aren’t better than Americans if they elected him. BTW I don’t think much of fundies either, they make upper-crust connoisseurs of Anselm etc. look silly ;-).

  24. Gingerbaker says

    My wife and I had a small period of mourning this afternoon.

    We turned on the TV to tune into a program which was featuring the greatest single Canadian export to the United States.

    Yes. I am talking about Curling – Sport of Kings.

    Why were we in mourning?

    Curling was the epitome of a neighborly, unspoiled, lo-tech sport. Amateur in the best sense of the word.

    Today, the curling was taking place on lane of ice which was….. embedded with advertisements. The scoreboard was festooned with corporate logos.

    It’s like seeing another pasture become a strip mall. :(

  25. Kseniya says

    How dare you suggest The Market does not always act in the best interest of every facet of the human experience!!!!

  26. Interrobang says

    At least we know one Bush Administration policy will never fly up here — they’re going to have a hard time pushing anything anti-immigrant now that 20% of our population is first-generation immigrants, and a substantial chunk more of us (me included) have living relatives who were themselves immigrants (I have two immigrant grandparents — the other side of the family were UELs, gotta love ’em).

    Harper really has to go? Where’s the fucking NDP on this? They’re normally about as useful as a third sock, but you’d think they’d earn their salaries once in a while…

  27. KenG says

    rrt #9 Harper has been an astute student of our previous Prime Minister, the self-styled godfather of international conservative politics,the Right disHonourable John HoWARd. If you have someone or an organisation which delivers views contrary to your own you simply dismiss the person or organisation and replace it with a “consultative council”. Of course, the members of said council are all hand-picked by yourself and, voila, no dissenting opinions.
    Footnote: Horward lost the recent election and his own electorate.

  28. Skwee says

    Great. Now I have to modify my Operation Escape Huckabee plans to go to another English-speaking country. Probably the UK. They have cool buses. And Dawkins.

    Anybody else going there too?

  29. rp says

    Hey, Edmonton is -22C, windchill -39 today. We need more hot air. Can you send us some more fundies or politicians, please? Send Harper home? Remember, Alberta may be the Canadian bible belt, but it’s still left of almost anywhere in the US. And it has nice people like Brownian and me.

  30. Graculus says

    I suppose they aren’t better than Americans if they elected him.

    Uh, you understand that far, far less than 50% of the electorate vote for him, right? So we have that on you.

    Plus, Harper would be a Dem in the US. Which doesn’t say much about your Democratic party, when our right-tard is your “left”.

  31. LisaJ says

    Harper has got to go! I knew we were in trouble the minute he won the election. This guy seems primarily interested in making friends with Mr. Bush, and is just so deluded on what are really the important societal issues. I cannot believe that in this day in age, in my country Canada, that the government in power doesn’t think it’s important to even be aware of recent advances and issues in Science. Unbelievable.
    Also unbelievable, as someone above referred to, is the fact that I only heard about this just right now, on this site. I watch the news everyday, how did I just hear about this? Ridiculous. I’m just waiting for my Graduate funding to be cut.

  32. says

    Skwee, try New Zealand. It’s like a cross between Canada and England: less culture shock and in a less polluted hemisphere, especially if someone starts slinging nuclear weapons.

    Dean, I’ve been looking for the last hour and while I find much huffing about the amount of energy used, people persist in comparing ergs to apples: e.g. 1 barrel of oil to two tons of soil, n barrels of hot water, the amount of energy used to heat a house for 4.5 days, and so on.

    One energy guy, Byron W. King, says that the energy return is 5 – 1-%, which I think means we use 0.9 barrels to produce one. Byron’s link talks about limitations on water, pipelines, and other necessities of production. I think the relevant link is here: 2006 Boston APSO: Canadian Tar Sands but they’re having technical difficulties so I can’t check it. I have others if that doesn’t have the right figures.

  33. Ryan F Stello says

    We are forming one great northern continent, unified in our ignorance, led by uninformed dumbasses.

    Not for long, oh Jebus, I pray, not for long.

  34. AlisonS says

    Our Idiot-in-charge also just fired the head of our Nuclear Regulatory Agency for enforcing SAFETY standards!! I hope we have an election soon. Harper has handed the opposition a ton of mud to throw at him and his bunch of dimwits.

    By the way, I love ReformaTories. It’s perfect.

  35. Rick Schauer says

    I want to tell my friends to the north, eh, that they should start watching Flintstones re-runs so they can help their government prepare for the future without a science advisor…who needs ’em? After the Flintstones and to help them with evolutionary thinking the Planet of the Apes would be appropriate.

  36. Joseph says

    Is it better to abandon ship at this point or should we still have a fighting chance in the US and Canada?

    It can surely be frustrating sometimes…

  37. says

    I often feel that science gets short shrift here in the Great Slushy North (I live in Toronto) not only because of the conservative-Christian element, but also because of the cultural-relativist, everyone’s-opinion-is-equal, lefties.

    Science gets squeezed in the middle. If it weren’t for the diamond-hard truths of scientific facts, it’d be worse than it is.

  38. JohnnieCanuck, FCD says

    Stockwell Day, one of Harper’s Cabinet Ministers is a YEC who has claimed that dinosaurs and humans were contemporaneous. His Public Safety Ministry is in charge of the RCMP, the Border Services Agency, the spy agency CSIS, the federal Parole Board and federal prisons. This is not exactly making me feel safe.

    While in Opposition, the two of them co-authored a letter to the Wall Street Journal criticising the Liberal government’s decision not to help invade Iraq.

    Day has also received grief from the voters and political opponents over his religiously inspired stance against homosexuals.

    So yes, a significant percentage of our current minority government consists of people with religiously inspired agendas. They certainly have their Bush admin wannabe moments, of which this is one.

    I’m getting impatient to see the end of both Parties’ time in power.

  39. says

    Interrobang: My dad’s a UEL and my mom’s a first gen immigrant. I feel like we’re almost family!

    Harper really worries me. Very Bushlike. Of course, he also looks like he’s wearing shiny lipgloss all the time, so that’s kind of creepy.

  40. Mike from Ottawa says

    Stockwell Day, one of Harper’s Cabinet Ministers is a YEC who has claimed that dinosaurs and humans were contemporaneous.

    And his YECism hurt Day when he was leader of the Reform Party and Warren Kinsella, Liberal politico, waved a Barny doll and ridiculed Day for his creationism. It was the only factor, but it was one of them in seeing that Day didn’t become PM.

    The Refoooorm* Party of Canada was one of the ancestors of the present Conservative Party, the other being the Progressive Conservative Party. Removing “progressive” from the name of that party reflects where Harper et al. want to go.

    *In-joke for Canadians only.

  41. Dean says

    No, a return on investment of 5-10% means that you get 5-10% more than what you put in. Sorta like if you invest $1 and at the end of the year you get $1.05 then your return on investment is 5%. So while the oil sands while quite inefficient in extrating, still gets a net energy output. It’s only now that oil is so expensive that it’s actually worth doing.

  42. rfguy says

    The Refoooorm* Party of Canada was one of the ancestors of the present Conservative Party, the other being the Progressive Conservative Party.

    I liked it best when it was called the Conservative Reform Alliance Party – a most suitable acronym.

  43. Lars says

    “Progressive Conservative Party”


    No, the Red Tories combined fiscal conservatism with a degree of social progressivism. Only a degreee, of course, but that’s vanished since the PCs were eaten alive by the ReformaTories.

  44. says

    Hey, Edmonton is -22C, windchill -39 today.

    Ah, those were the days, eh rp? Nothing like -31°C (-23.8°F) with a wind chill of -46°C (-50.8°F) to make one nostalgic for the temperatures of yesterday.

    Unfortunately, we’ve got a week of this stuff still ahead. It’s inconvenient for most of us, but it’s death for the homeless.

  45. Dan says

    Now you guys will understand why there are some french canadians in Quebec (I’m one of them) who would like to separate from the rest of Canada. With this Unity, I guess now, the new movement will be separation from the rest of the continent!!

    I’m kidding, it’s not the reason but hey, it’s one more of them.

  46. David says

    I lived in Canada when I was 13-15 years old (escaping “the troubles” in N Ireland with my family). The Canadians at once hate and admire Americans.

    They hate that the US is more powerful, yet they admire the fact that the US is independent.

    They strive to preserve their own culture while adopting US slang and pronounciation – especially, to my great anger, “tomato” (like “potato”).

    Everyone knows it should be “tomato” like “To-{sounds like} “matt” – oh”. Just as crocodile shouldn’t sound like missile – or should it?

    Miss – isle? Canadians deserve god.

  47. LisaJ says

    David (#53).
    What?! Are you serious? Just because you lived here for two years of your life, as a young teenager no less, please don’t tell me that you think are more knowledgeable than I am (born and lived in Canada my whole life) about how I and most of the rest of us feel about Americans. I have a report to write, so I’m not going to sit here and list all the reasons why I dislike America, but it’s certainly not because I am jealous of their ‘power’…. in fact, I think they are one of the least powerful nations, as they keep a great portion of their society ignorant to what’s really going on in this world and how it works (obviously this isn’t anyone on this site, so no offense meant). The statement ‘Canadians deserve god’ just speaks to your incredible ignorance.

  48. says

    They hate that the US is more powerful, yet they admire the fact that the US is independent.

    Huh? If that was all the understanding you got of Canadians when you lived here, you missed a great deal.

    Trust me, Canadians don’t envy the supposed power of the American Empire(