Former Ontario premier Mike Harris appointed a high school drop out as his first Minister of Education. Stephen Harper has followed in Harris' footsteps. The other Michael Harris -- who writes for ipolitics -- notes that, when it comes to science, Harper's ministers know as much as the benighted John Snoblen. Linda Keen -- who Harper fired as the head of Canada's Nuclear Safety Commission -- has observed that:
There is no science department in the federal government run by a scientist, not Health, Environment, Natural Resources, Agriculture or Fisheries and Oceans.
Expertise is not a requirement for appointment to Harper's cabinet. Consider Greg Rickford, the new science minister:
For one thing, Greg Rickford was trained as a nurse and a lawyer. So health or justice maybe. But a science portfolio? That is an especially bad choice.
But it's not to hard to see why Rickford was slotted for science. The shuttered Experimental Lakes Area is in his riding:
The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) Canada’s former world-class facility for whole ecosystem freshwater research, was in Rickford’s Kenora riding. After appearing to be a champion of the 58-lake outdoor lab, Rickford manfully genuflected to his government’s dunderheaded decision to close the facility.
And when Canada's scientists criticized the decision to close the ELA, Rickford became the face of Tory fundraising:
In order to fight off the folks in white coats, Rickford needed a little help. The televangelist moment had arrived: “We can’t let these attacks go unanswered. Can you make a small contribution today? Even as little as $5 can have a large impact in helping Greg.”
And the Conservative Ministry of Truth went after the scientists:
“The article “Greg Rickford, Canada’s new science minister, has poor track record” was written by the same group of radical ideologues who have led a campaign of misinformation about Greg’s work to protect the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA).”
The Harperites wear ignorance as a badge. Like Sergeant Shultz in the old sitcom, Hogan's Heroes, their motto is, "I know nothing at all!"