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This Week in Canadian Science 2018-07-08


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/07/08

“Premier Doug Ford has fired Ontario’s chief scientist — an award-winning researcher appointed by the former Liberal government.

Molly Shoichet was named the province’s first-ever chief scientist last November, with the goal of advancing science and innovation in Ontario.

Shoichet, a biomedical engineer, told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning that her work was going well, but on Tuesday she was informed that she was being let go.

A few months ago we spoke with Molly Shoichet, an award-winning scientist and researcher at the U of T. She’d just been appointed as the Province’s first Chief Scientist by then Premier Kathleen Wynne. Now a new government with a new mandate and a new broom has sent her packing. We have her reaction and hear what she was able to do in the six months she was on the job. 8:12

She said she was “surprised and not surprised,” by the news, and believes she was let go so Ford’s new PC government could put its own stamp on the role, even though she says she’s not a member of any political party.

“Science is not political,” she said.

“It’s really about trying to make the best decisions for government.””


“Premier Doug Ford has quietly appointed an ally to an advisory post with an annual salary of $348,000.

The Ford cabinet named Dr. Rueben Devlin, a former president of the Ontario PC Party and the longtime CEO of Humber River Hospital, to chair a new body called the Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine.

The appointment was not officially announced by the Ford government, although the decision was made a week ago during the first meeting of the new cabinet.

Devlin’s hiring was revealed Friday when the orders-in-council from that meeting were posted online. The cabinet order declares Devlin’s salary as $348,000 per year, plus expenses.

“He is going to be worth every penny and we are going to see that in the results,” said Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s new minister of children, community and social services, during a news conference Friday.”


“On October 20, marijuana will no longer be an illegal drug in Canada—a move that could make it much easier to study how cannabis affects the body and the brain.

“Cannabis has risks and maybe benefits,” says M-J Milloy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use and the University of British Columbia who studies HIV patients’ illicit drug use. Under prohibition, however, “what we, as scientists, have not been able to do is try to figure out what those risks and benefits are in an open way,” he says. “The hope is that legalization of cannabis will take the shackles off scientific inquiry and will allow us to ask and answer the sort of questions we should have been asking twenty, thirty, forty years ago.”

Currently in Canada, to study the physiological effects of cannabis in humans, researchers have to apply for an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which has been difficult to get regardless of the political affiliation of government leaders, Milloy says. Funding hasn’t been easy to come by either, making cannabis research the “poor second cousin of alcohol studies,” notes sociologist Andrew Hathaway of the University of Guelph.”


“From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded over the past week.

Large areas of heat pressure or heat domes scattered around the hemisphere led to the sweltering temperatures.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports the heat is to blame for at least 33 deaths in southern Quebec, mostly in and near Montreal, which endured record high temperatures.

In Northern Siberia, along the coast of the Arctic Ocean – where weather observations are scarce – model analyses showed temperatures soaring 40 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius) above normal on July 5, to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius).

“It is absolutely incredible and really one of the most intense heat events I’ve ever seen for so far north,” wrote meteorologist Nick Humphrey, who offers more detail on this extraordinary high-latitude hot spell on his blog.”


“SIDNEY, BC, July 5, 2018 /CNW/ – Seamounts are underwater mountains that are home to an abundance of marine species, from cold-water corals and sponges to Bocaccio and killer whales. These ecosystems are important to maintaining biodiversity in the ocean and contribute greatly to its health. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Haida Nation, Oceana Canada and Ocean Networks Canada are working together to further ocean research and help protect seamounts in the Pacific Ocean. 

The Northeast Pacific Seamounts Expedition, taking place from July 5 to 21, 2018, will explore three seamounts in the Northeast Pacific Ocean: SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie, Dellwood and Explorer.

During the 16-day expedition aboard Ocean Exploration Trust’s vessel, E/V Nautilus, partners will survey and collect data on the physical features and ecosystems of the seamounts. They will establish long-term monitoring sites on SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount, and for the first time, will use multibeam sonar to map Dellwood and Explorer Seamounts.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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