Saturday, May 02, 2009

Gary Goodyear Explains Canada's Science Policy

Gary Goodyear, you might recall, is Canada's Minster of State (Science and Technology). He is a chiropractor who doesn't accept the scientific view of evolution.

The policy of the Conservative Party is to cut funding to the major granting agencies (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) by $148 million over the next few years. This will have a disastrous effect on basic research in Canada.

At a recent meeting in Washington (USA), Goodyear explained how Conservative ideology is driving science funding [Canadian research may hold key to ‘clean coal:' Goodyear].
Only days after Mr. Obama delighted America's scientific community by saying the “days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over” – a clear reference to the eight years George W. Bush was president – Mr. Goodyear made a point of claiming Canada's Conservative government took science seriously.

“Canada sees the role of science and technology in contributing to global economic growth and recovery,” he said. “We know that the jobs of tomorrow are found in the discoveries of today, so we look at research funding as investment — investment in innovation, in scientific discovery, in job creation, and as a hedge against tough economic conditions.”

But he also said the government's role in funding science went beyond backing pure research. Ottawa's science spending reflects “our government's emphasis on commercializing research and improving the processes that help get innovative ideas to the marketplace,” Mr. Goodyear told a two-day AAAS forum on science and technology.

“Commercialization is one area in which public policy makers play a huge role in enabling the private sector to do what it does best — turn knowledge into innovation, and innovation into greater wealth and well-being for people.”
I wish I were an American. President Obama seems to know the difference between science and technology and he seems to understand where real creativity and innovation can be found—it's not in technology development, it's in curiosity motivated basic research.


  1. From what I've seen, American researchers already have vey string ties to industry, even those involved in basic research. But my field may be biased towards this, I suppose.

  2. Typical "management" mindset for the past 20 years. Examples I have some connection to are: the change of Ontario Hydro Research Division in to "Ontario Hydro Technologies" and finally to "Kinectrics"; the absorption of "Bell-Northern Research" in to Northern Telecom. Granted, those examples are only about the name, not necessarily about money -- but I think the deep-sixing of the word "research" is symptomatic of the problem.

  3. Industry pollutes basic science and undermines its credibility - just look at the backlash against health related science fomented in part by distrust of the pharmaceutical industry.

    The whole point of capitalism and capitalist industry is that it pays for its own shit. Industry pays for things that it thinks will be good for industry. The job of government is to pay for things that will be good for society, especially those things that commercial interests can't see a short term profit in. Goodyear and Harper are totally missing the point of industry and government.

    It almost seems as if their goal is to make industry and government overlap so that government funded science becomes redundant. Then we can do away with this pesky public stake in science and this pesky knowledge. Knowledge is bad, unless it is the kind that you can make money off right away.