The pro-science organization Evidence for Democracy ran a joint rally with the Queen’s University Liberal Association (QULA) yesterday morning at Stauffer Library in an effort to raise awareness and gain signatures for a parliamentary petition.
Evidence for Democracy is an non-partisan organization which advocates for transparency in the use of science and evidence in public policy.
Queen’s professors John Smol, Diane Beauchemin and Peter Hodson spoke at the event along with Ted Hsu, the Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands.
QULA and the Kingston and the Islands Federal Liberal Association (KIFLA) provided equipment and volunteers for the event.
The petition in circulation at the event, which demands free access to scientific data in Canada, will be presented by Hsu to Parliament.
Approximately 200 people attended the event, according to Raly Chakarova, MPA ’14 and vice-president and outreach director of KIFLA.
Chakarova said the event is designed to support a larger Evidence for Democracy rally in Ottawa.
“They are organizing the main rally in Ottawa and they asked for local help in other cities,” she said. She said KIFLA won’t be organizing any more events with Evidence for Democracy in the near future, as they expect students to be more proactive after the rally.
Chakarova said she believes evidence-based policy is important not just for environmental policy, but in all realms of policy-making.
Ron Hartling, the president of KIFLA, said he first came into contact with Evidence for Democracy when he participated in the Death of Evidence march on Parliament Hill last year.
The Death of Evidence march was held in protest of the planned closing of the Experimental Lakes Area research station by the federal government.
Hartling said he asked the organization if they wanted to have a rally in Kingston after seeing it wasn’t on their list of cities.
“[Ted Hsu] was the only parliamentarian to speak [at the] Parliament Hill rally last year, so it was natural to do it here,” he said.
Hartling said Queen’s is a good place to have the rally because universities traditionally celebrate critical thinking and reject simple answers.
“The issues are all complex and the government wants to do everything simple-mindedly,” he said. “There’s a simple answer to every complex problem, and it’s wrong.”
The main points of the petition are available for viewing online at the Evidence for Democracy website.
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