COLUMN: Agenda-based science is not science

MORRISBURG — Compromising science to make the facts work for your political agenda, is not science. There is no way to state that it is. Time and time again, we have seen governments or special interest groups using selective science to prove why their agenda is the right one. The issue is, when you compromise the science or the facts, your solution is flawed and causes more problems than it solves.

Case in point, the bee industry. Over the past two years, one of the pressing issues agriculture in Ontario has had to deal with is the Wynne government’s plan for helping protect the bee population. The short version of the issue is bee populations were declining. Some scientists believed it was due to pesticides that crops like corn are treated with before planting. The pesticides, known as neonicotinoids or neonics, caused bees to die. To counter this, the government consulted with agriculture groups, which it then ignored. The politicians and bureaucrats then came up with a plan; reduce the use of these neonics by 80%. It is not a reduction, it is a ban. But the government didn’t want to say it was a ban because that would open itself to having to deal with other interest groups wanting other things banned and that would not fit the government’s agenda. So it is a reduction.

The agriculture groups, and even beekeepers didn’t agree with the plans, or that neonics were the sole reason for the issue of bees dying off. This suggests the government was picking and choosing the facts, which it was.  The resulting “reduction” will cost farmers more to plant crops and the crops they plant won’t have as high of a yield, costing farmers again. But who cares because this “reduction” is the government taking action.

Except that neonic-use is not the only reason for dead bees. In fact, it is only a small part. Science things like how cold winters are, other diseases, or the quality of the bees themselves also play big factors. Nope, those facts do not matter, science does not matter, it is the fault of chemicals. Starting in 2016, farmers will have to plant less neonic-treated crops, going to 20 per cent in 2017. And the bees will be saved!

Yet Statistics Canada released numbers on December 9th showing an 11 per cent increase in honey production over 2014. That is a national statistic, carried by increases in Alberta and Saskatchewan which had a milder winter in 2014-15. Those provincial governments have not banned or reduced the use of neonic-based pesticides. Wait. The weather affects bees? Who would of thought that? Yes, that is right, science! The Canadian Honey Council, stated it was due to better management skills by bee keepers and better weather. Who would know better than the ones who work in the industry? The government of course.

If the honey industry is affected by weather, good management and diseases and not just affected by pesticide contamination, why did the government act on only one part of the science? Political agenda. If the Liberal government in Ontario acted on this one segment of the agriculture industry using agenda-based science, what else has it gotten wrong?

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) had a long-range plan for power use in Ontario, Liberal hacks meddled for their political agenda and Ontarians paid $37 billion more than they had to for electricity. How many more examples of this are there in Ontario?

If modern-progressive governments like the Ontario Liberal Party can use agenda-based science instead of actual science to set policy. Do you trust them to continue to do so? Can you trust their federal counterparts to negotiate international agreements for trade or the environment using agenda-based science? Should you trust them to do so?

Twelve years of policy using agenda-based science does not give much confidence for the next three-to-four years.

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