Greg Rickford? Really?


The Toronto Star published a well-written commentary by a number of scientists a few days ago lamenting Greg Rickford’s appointment as Minister of State for Science and Technology. Go give it a read if you have a few moments- I think it raises some genuine concerns regarding how Rickford will handle the file given his recent flip-flop track record with the Experimental Lakes Area (see how one man goes from this viewpoint, to this, in just one budget announcement).

Similar concerns regarding Rickford’s ability to function well as a minister of this file have been voiced by MPs in adjacent ridings, and there’s a great blogpost by Alison at Creekside that takes a good look at Rickford’s track record not just with ELA but with his most recent portfolio in Aboriginal and Northern Affairs. Even Nature blogged about it.

With the move, the FEDNOR file also moves to Rickford. FEDNOR is a pot of federal money used for economic development in Northern Ontario communities, and like many programs were subject to significant cuts. Previously, the file was with Tony Clement, who was criticized for having let the FEDNOR file take a backseat to his Treasury Board responsibilities. Interestingly, in a recent CBC interview with Clement, he opened the door to the possibility of FEDNOR dollars being used to help support ELA in the future (listen to the interview here). One wonders whether Rickford will be as inviting to the idea.

By putting Rickford in charge of the Science and Technology file, given his past performance of sticking to the party newspeak at all costs, one can only assume that this will not result in a thawing of relations between the current government and it’s resident scientists.


Consolidating holdings- “Libricide” at DFO


It’s a wonder that one might find such a strong link between Ray Bradbury and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

This post was recently sent to me by another concerned scientist (my apologies for taking so long to get it up- remote field work and writing blogs is a challenging mix..)

It describes what’s happening with the consolidation of all 9 of DFO’s libraries across the country to just two- one in BC and one in Halifax.

It also provides a link to an image described as “the Maurice Lamontagne Institute library in Mont Joli, Québec in a dumpster.” Here’s the photo:


I’d be horrified if I was seeing this for the first time, but I am watching the same thing happening in my building, to my library. We’re assured at the moment that it’s all duplicate holdings for what’s at other libraries, but it’s a terrifying sight all the same. Talking to the Librarian, they won’t even have an electronic catalogue of what’s there finished in time before she retires and they really start dumping things. Once again, it’s seems to be a fantastic example of process before practicality- follow the impossible timelines for consolidation rather than do it correctly and ensure to aren’t tossing anything really rare or valuable. There are still practical questions as to how the material that isn’t tossed will be moved and ultimately stored at the new facilities- I was previously unaware that either library in BC or Halifax had reams of available shelf space to accommodate 4.5 libraries each within their current holdings.

Why should we care about the holdings in these DFO libraries? Quite simply, you can’t find much of it anywhere else. A ton of what’s in these libraries are what’s commonly referred to as the “grey literature”; Scientific work that may have received varying levels of peer review, published as government, consultant or agency reports. 99% of which is nearly impossible to find, unless you happen to talk to the librarian who knows just right where it is in your library. You’d be surprised at how often a lot of this grey literature gets cited, particularly in review articles, books, state-of-the-resource type publications, where the data that’s in them is really the valuable component, and which has never been published in the peer-reviewed (and easily catalogued and searchable) scientific literature.

While it may not be going on in public, we should all be concerned about the current libricide being conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.