On Tuesday 27 August 2019, multiple groups - including RCIScience, TSPN, and CSMB - co-hosted a Let’s #VoteScience event at the University of Toronto, in Toronto, Canada.
In case the news headlines haven’t given it away yet, we’re quickly approaching the next set of federal elections. A lot of topics will make it into election conversations, but science is rarely one of them. In fact, science doesn’t usually get any attention during election campaigns. We think this needs to change.
That’s why, in early August, several Canadian science and student-run organizations – including Evidence for Democracy, the Toronto Science Policy Network (TSPN) and Science & Policy Exchange – came together to launch a national non-partisan #VoteScience campaign to advocate for science in the upcoming elections.
It’s easy to feel confused or overwhelmed about knowing where to start when it comes to advocating for science. That’s why the #VoteScience organizing team has assembled tools that you can use when reaching out to candidates to find out about their stance on science issues or advocating for evidence-informed decision-making. This includes a toolkit on how to reach out to MP candidates, potential questions to ask your candidates, a #VoteScience selfie template, postcards, and more. Organizations also have the option to sign up as a campaign supporter to help spread the word, like RCIScience did in mid-August!
To bring the #VoteScience campaign to Toronto, RCIScience, TSPN and the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences (CSMB) recently collaborated to host a Let’s #VoteScience event at the University of Toronto. Three panelists spoke about why - and how - to advocate for science in the upcoming federal elections. The panel was moderated by RCIScience Chair Dr. Reinhart Reithmeier.
Key messages from the evening included:
Dr. David Naylor (Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto) spoke about unfinished items from the report he spearheaded about Science in Canada, particularly funding allocation for basic science research. He emphasised the need to speak to all the federal parties with one voice.
Dr. Amanda Veri (Research Associate, University of Toronto) shared her experiences with science advocacy and shared practical tips, stating that open lines of communication are important when it comes to inviting candidates to, for example, visit your lab.
Finally, Dr. Imogen R. Coe (Ryerson University professor, CSMB Vice-President) described how meeting the Minister of Science repeatedly - coupled with years of science advocacy and speaking up - helped lead to policy changes relating to equity, diversity and inclusion in the form of the newly launched Dimensions EDI program.
Did you miss the Let’s #VoteScience event but still want to get involved? That’s OK! We’ve got you covered.
Check out this blog post which further breaks down key messages from the night, and be sure to check out the VoteScience.ca site for #VoteScience actions you can take today from the comfort of your own home or lab. You can also pick up #VoteScience buttons and postcards at upcoming RCIScience events this fall.
The authors Farah Qaiser, Isabella Lim, and Sivani Baskaran are members of the Toronto Science Policy Network’s 2019 executive team. TSPN aims to provide a platform for students (graduate and undergraduate) as well as postdoctoral researchers to learn more about and engage in science policy.