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Rm. BA 1180, Bahen Centre, 40 St. George Street
Robert Hunter Memorial Lecture with Erich Vogt, Sessional Lecturer, School of the Environment
ABSTRACT: Canada is a fortunate country. The country has an abundance of priceless natural resources, a population rich in diversity and creativity, and public and private institutions that support the generation and free exchange of knowledge and information. If properly cultivated, all of them will thrive and ensure that the country's best days are still ahead. That however is not a given. Canada's scientists are under siege. The Harper government demonstrates a curious proclivity of gagging and muzzling its scientists. In particular climate and environmental scientists have come under special scrutiny by the Prime Minister's Office. It makes sure that whatever scientific findings are shared with the public, particularly those in the critical climate change field, has the imprimatur and 'blessings' of the government. This approach to communicating public policy should put Canada's media, the 'Fourth Estate', in high alert mode. That has not happened. Its reporting has been incoherent and meaningless. Clearly, the country's media needs to be brought up to speed, and its universities may just be the place to turn to bring it into the knowledge age. There is no better place than at universities to hone intellectual rigor, freedom of thought and expression, independence of mind and perspectives, and cultivate communication skills designed to connect to a larger public and impart knowledge.