On August 8th, we launched the Let’s #VoteScience campaign, alongside Evidence for Democracy and the Science & Policy Exchange, to mobilize Canadians to advocate for science during this year’s federal elections. To kick off this campaign, TSPN, the Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIScience) and the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences (CSMB) hosted Let’s #VoteScience, to talk about how and why scientists can advocate for science in the upcoming federal election.
The event featured Dr. David Naylor (Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto), Dr. Amanda Veri (Research Associate, University of Toronto) and Dr. Imogen R. Coe (Ryerson University professor, CSMB Vice-President and vocal advocate).
To start off, TSPN’s President Farah Qaiser listed different ways to engage in science advocacy:
- Send an email to your MP candidates through the votescience.ca e-form.
- Take a #VoteScience selfie, and tag your candidates.
- Send a #VoteScience postcard to your candidates. TSPN have these printed out, so please contact us if you would like some!
- Engage your candidates in-person! The VoteScience.ca portal has lots of useful tips on how to talk to your candidates, inviting them to you lab and more.
We heard briefly from each of our panelists on their experience with science advocacy.
Our panel commentary began with Naylor who spoke about the unfinished items when it comes to advancing Canadian science, where he cited the Fundamental Science Review, and his recent op-ed with Mark Lautens in the Toronto Star.
Next, Veri shared her experiences with diving into science advocacy as a graduate student, where she offered practical tips to engage with politicians and candidates. Veri recounted how one tweet and millions of fungal cells helped her secure a meeting with newly elected MPP Stephen Lecce, and emphasized that interactions with candidates will be more positive and productive if communication lines are open and all parties involved are enjoying themselves.
Lastly, Coe who shared how meeting a politician can help change the world. In Coe’s case, meeting the Minister for Science & Sports (Dr. Kirsty Duncan) and repeatedly advocating for equity, diversity and inclusion over the past five years has resulted in the launch of the federal Dimensions EDI program to foster increased research excellence, innovation and creativity within the post-secondary sector. Overall, Coe emphasized that being prepared for an issue and taking advantage of the (often small) window of opportunity can lead to incremental but real change.
With Dr. Reinhart Reithmeier (University of Toronto professor, RCIScience chair) as moderator, audience members were then asked to submit questions they had for panelists. Topics ranged from science communication to Canada’s science culture.
Video footage from the event can be found here. Due to some technical difficulties, we lost a portion of the recording.
— The TSPN Team
The Toronto Science Policy Network (TSPN) aims to provide a platform for students (graduate and undergraduate), as well as post-doctoral researchers, to learn more about and engage in science policy. Sign up for our mailing list to stay in the loop about TSPN’s upcoming events. Read about our previous events on our Medium page here.