Originally published May 22, 2012
The Conservative Government announced more layoffs this week at the St. Andrews Biological Station where 16 scientists and librarians are being relieved of their jobs. Local MP John Williamson, as expected, is parroting the government’s position, claiming no important work will be lost. According to the CBC he … argues important research won’t be lost, but outsourced. They’re also working to avoid some of the duplication that exists between DFO and the Department of the Environment,” he said. Williamson said the changes to research mean taxpayers will get better value for their money.
With all due respect to Williamson who has no scientific experience that I am aware of, that is just not the way it works. I personally went down this long and dangerous road many years ago when the government of the day went to “contracting out“. And guess what happened then John? Every unemployed biologist in the country set up their own consulting company, diluting both the market and the quality of research. More particularly it opened the door to cronyism and graft. This system was subsequently abandoned and the research community has not been the same since. The once respected Fisheries Research Board of Canada was turned into a group of unwilling shills for the government and, as is true today, were forced to remain quiet about their work and relegated to become ineffectual peons of their “masters” in Ottawa.
All and all this makes a bad situation worse. That’s my opinion tonight.