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Harper makes political appointments to science boards

May 12, 2009

There’s a major uproar spreading about the Government’s appointment this week of two alleged climate change skeptics to science funding boards. Mark Mullins, the Executive Director of the Fraser Institute (usually referred to as a ‘right-wing think tank’) has been named to the board of NSERC, a major source of funding for climate change research. The Fraser Institute has been at the forefront of the so-called climate debate, having even produced a ham-handed video aimed at teens  called “Question the Hype” which seeks to discredit climate science (sample quote: “The climate changes naturally – always has, always will“). Mullins himself, trained as an economist, has been quoted as saying: “the climate-change issue is somewhat sensational and definitely exaggerated.”

Perhaps in an effort to roll all the criticism into a single day, the government also announced the appointment of John Weissenberger to the board of CFI. Dr. Weissenberger is a geologist at Husky Energy in Alberta, and (as an unrelated fact) happens to be a serial government appointee (and Prime Minister Harper’s “best friend”). The Globe reports that Dr. Weissenberger has expressed skepticism about global warming online and in the media, and a close friend remarked about him: “He earned his living as a geologist, but politics was his passion. He’s come to where his strong passion lies and that is in the area of politics.

Obviously, though both men are very politically active, there is nothing political about these appointments and they will surely put their political activism aside while serving on the boards. Indeed, both men have pledged to the Globe and Mail that they will not use their postings to advocate for reductions in funding for climate change research.

Of course, given that climate change is no longer among the fundable sub-priorities identified by the current government, this news is probably irrelevant.

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