The Canadian twitter world has been split in the last couple of days. You have of course the Duffy-Brazeau-Harb-Wallen-Wright-Perrin saga filling the trend boxes. But then, you have the story of the Tories’ problem with science, be it defunding, muzzling, commercializing, disbelieving, doubting, preventing, etc. The latter must have restarted with the incredible announcement about the National Research Council (NRC), presented as “Canada sells out science” in Slate, and as “Failure doesn’t come cheap” in Maclean’s. What went unnoticed was the fact that the restructuring turned out to be almost orthogonal to the recommendations of the Jenkins report about the NRC.
Then came the latest Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) report, which showed that Canada’s expenditure on research and development has fallen from 16th out of 41 comparable countries in the year Stephen Harper became prime minister, to 23rd in 2011. Paul Wells seems to be racking up hits on his Maclean’s article, “Stephen Harper and the knowledge economy: perfect strangers.” But the story of the last 48 hours has been John Dupuis’s chronology of what he calls, “The Canadian war on science” and much more. So far tweeted 780 times, you can read it there if you also want to see John’s analysis of what’s behind this war. There is also this story, and this, and this. And by the way, Gary Goodyear made an announcement yesterday about the Harper government’s support for basic research. It turned out that he was simply re-announcing the results of NSERC’s discovery grant competition. Finally, and in the context of the current search for a new UBC President, it may be opportune for this issue to be at the forefront of the Search Committee’s questions for all potential candidates. It is high time to engage those who aspire to be leaders of Canada’s post-secondary institutions in this debate.