Thursday, January 29, 2009

Harper Slashes Research in Canada

 
The Conservative Party under Stephen Harper has proposed drastic cuts in research funding. The new budget suggests that the major research councils will be able to "save" 87 million dollars over the next four years due to increased efficiency.

Read it at: Budget 2009 under "Granting Councils."
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada are streamlining operations and aligning programs with the objectives of the Government’s Science and Technology Strategy and national research priorities. Through closer coordination, these agencies are improving the effectiveness of existing programs, aligning their programs with their core roles and fostering the development of innovative new programs.

These savings will be used in this budget to support repairs at post-secondary institutions, to upgrade key Arctic research facilities, to expand the Canada Graduate Scholarships program and graduate internships, and to support new world-class research facilities. This budget also sets aside $750 million to support the current and future activities of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.


Most enlightened countries are increasing funding for basic research but that's not what Conservatives have in mind in order to help Canada adjust to the 21st century. Instead, my government is going to reduce research grants at the same time they want to increase the number of graduate students. Where the heck are these graduate students going to carry out their studies? In the USA?

Genome Canada, a separate agency, isn't getting any money at all. But one thing the Conservative Party has learned from our neighbor to the south is that political parties can give money directly to their favorite causes. Even if it comes at the expense of all other scientists. In this case, the Institute for Quantum Computing gets $50 million in a special non-peer reviewed grant.

Canada adopts earmarks.

Disgusting.

The Liberal Party's Industry, Science & Technology Critic is Marc Garneau (Westmount-Ville Marie). You can send him a message here. Tell him that the Liberal Party should not support this budget.

Here's what Marc Garneau said today as reported by CBC: Critics question lack of new funding for Genome Canada.
Liberal party science and technology critic Marc Garneau told CBC News the funding of Genome Canada would be an issue the party would address with the government when it discusses amendments to the budget.

It will also raise cuts in the budget to Canada's three research councils. The cuts total close to $150 million and peak in 2011-12 at $87.2 million, Garneau said.

But he stopped short of saying these issues would be deal-breakers in ongoing budget talks.

"What we're going to do is continue to remind the government that they are not doing enough in that particular area," said Garneau. "I won't tell you whether or not this is a show-stopper because I'm not making those decisions, but I think our party will continue to point out the lack of real support in science by this government."
If the Liberals don't think this is a "show-stopper" then maybe it's time to vote NDP.


9 comments :

  1. Hey, Canada, don't be like the US. We tried the whole cut science funding thing. It's not working out very well. Learn from the mistakes of your southern neighbors.

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  2. Eric, what you talkin' 'bout? The US didn't cut science funding during Bush's years (in most areas), it increased it. It funds science in most areas at levels undreamt of in Canada.

    Canada is still a laggard, and has been a laggard, in science funding compared to european countries, and especially the US. (It gets good "bang for the buck" though, mostly. And foundation for innovation is a very good policy.)

    Harper just doesn't have clue what he is doing. He's not competent. None of his ministers is allowed to pipe up to question him, even if they knew better, which they largely don't. I don't think he ever asks for advice on anything. Canada has a science policy document, developed by the conservatives two budgets ago (it's a poor document, but it is there), on industry canada's website. It mentions genome canada several times.

    Quite obviously the conservatives don't even read their own science policy documents, can't keep their policy's straight in their minds, and don't have ministers who are aware of the ostensible policies of their ministries. If the minister of industry (Clement ... well, he's new in the job ... ) were competent or effective (ha!), he would have read the budget, realized its total incompatibility the conservative's own science policy, and demanded its revision. He's not effective, and likely not competent.

    In fact, if he doesn't resign over the genome canada fiasco, the liberals should move to an election. Too many incompetents, doing too many incompetent things, for too long.

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  3. NDPers are so POWERE HUNGRY and so FRUSTRATED they're not going to get their first Limousine ever, they're ready to bash at everyone in the lowest manner possible. In fact, I find it interesting that you'd chose a picture of Harper as a cowboy and a pisture of Garneau as an astronaut... I wonder what you'd look like in a test tube, Mr. Biochemistry Professor !

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  4. These savings will be used in this budget ... and to support new world-class research facilities.

    What are they going to do in these new world-class research facilities if the money for actual research is being cut?

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  5. anonymous says,

    I wonder what you'd look like in a test tube, Mr. Biochemistry Professor !

    I dunno. Nobody has ever taken a picture of me in a test tube.

    Nobody has ever taken a picture of me dressed up as a cowboy or an astronaut either. There's a reason for that.

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  6. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says,

    What are they going to do in these new world-class research facilities if the money for actual research is being cut?

    I suppose we'll think of something ... but only if we have tenure. There won't be any one else in there.

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  7. It's why I'm trying to get out of Canada this year.

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  8. Larry said:

    "Instead, my government is going to reduce research grants at the same time they want to increase the number of graduate students. Where the heck are these graduate students going to carry out their studies?"

    I agree with you, of course, but exactly how is this different than universities taking on graduate students without creating new jobs for them at the other end???

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  9. Please consider joining our facebook group, Protect Science Funding in Canada:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=66987670090

    ReplyDelete