Local salmon advocate files federal petition Publish Date: 27-FEB-2014 09:19 AM A Whistler advocate of salmon preservation and habitat protection feels the federal government isn't doing enough following the release of the Cohen Commission into the Decline of Fraser Sockeye — so Dave Brown filed a petition with the auditor general of Canada expressing his concerns.
The Harper approach to science is holding us back Publish Date: 25-FEB-2014 08:59 AM Over the last seven years, our federal government has directed funding away from basic science toward industry-led research programs, and clashed publicly with the scientific community on issues ranging from censorship to laboratory closures. In 2014, Industry Canada’s innovation strategy, which was opened to public consultation, promised more of the same approach.
Tories’ election budget fails to hide cuts to research, innovation Publish Date: 24-FEB-2014 08:40 AM Budget 2014 represents a subtle shift in the federal government’s strategy for the research and innovation file. With the next election on the near horizon, the Conservatives are now trying to hide their shortsighted cuts with lavish promises of billions in investments delayed over the next decade. Most of these commitments are slotted to be spent on a future government’s dime, with funds promised that won’t start to flow until after 2015. The Conservatives are playing politics with research funding and have tabled nothing more than a “positioning budget” for the next election.
Canada needs a senior science and innovation minister Publish Date: 24-FEB-2014 08:35 AM When federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced his 10th budget on Feb. 11, he once again demonstrated that science, technology, and innovation suffer from that Ottawa affliction known as CPA, continuous partial attention. Budgets with this government and others before it are usually careful to make some sort of statement about the need to invest in knowledge and innovation—only the emphasis and context changes (see, for example any, of the word clouds in Flaherty’s previous budgets for ‘research,’ ‘science,’ and ‘innovation’).
Excellence et rentabilité sont-elles synonymes? – Le dernier budget fédéral établit de nouvelles règles pour la recherche (French only) Publish Date: 22-FEB-2014 08:29 AM En recherche, le gouvernement fédéral est un acteur majeur lorsqu’il est question de financement. Et le dernier budget Flaherty déposé indique clairement qu’une nouvelle donne régit en terre canadienne la distribution des subsides. La recherche doit-elle être uniquement évaluée selon sa capacité de soutenir les entreprises ? Selon sa seule capacité de générer des revenus potentiels ? Si, à cette double question, le gouvernement Harper répond « oui », il se trouvera dans le monde universitaire plus d’un acteur pour souligner le côté pervers d’une telle politique.
Canada’s missed opportunities at AAAS Publish Date: 19-FEB-2014 09:06 AM Canada was both present and missing at this year’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago, Feb. 13-17. AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and its annual meeting attracts thousands of leading scientists, engineers, educators, policymakers and journalists from around the world to discuss recent developments in science and technology. Canada was well represented at the scientific symposia, with researchers talking about impacts of the Arctic thaw, fisheries management, brain simulation and seeing elections through the lens of mathematics, among other topics. But Canada was notably lacking in any official promotion as a destination of choice for top researchers – at a time when we do a lot of talking, at the federal level at least, about the need to do more to attract top researchers from around the world.
Federal government presents regulation changes needed to reopen ELA Publish Date: 19-FEB-2014 09:04 AM The Experimental Lakes Area has cleared the last regulatory hurdle on its way to reopening under the management of the International Institute for Sustainable Development this spring. The federal government has produced the changes to Canada’s fishing regulations which will allow research at the ELA to continue legally.
Hudak pushes plan to contract out government services Publish Date: 19-FEB-2014 09:01 AM Tim Hudak is proposing a sweeping plan to contract out government services and force public sector unions to compete with private companies to see who can do the work at the lowest cost.
Ending Science Publish Date: 19-FEB-2014 08:57 AM It’s a sobering report: the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada’s “Vanishing Science” outlines how the federal government seems intent on erasing the nuisance of scientists and fact-based decision making. Since 2008, federal budget cuts have seen more than 2,000 federal science jobs simply disappear — a raft of cuts seem designed to make sure facts don’t get in the way of government dogma.
When Will Harper’s People Stop Denying Climate Change Publish Date: 18-FEB-2014 08:44 AM One of most unpredictable and dangerous impacts of climate change is the threat it poses to our ability to grow and harvest food across Canada and around the globe.On a global scale, food security in the age of climate change is a serious concern with reports warning that climate change could drive up food prices and lead to millions of people living in a state of food insecurity. In the context of this agricultural insecurity, Gerry Ritz, Canada's Minister for Agriculture, told the House of Commons last week that "this cold weather can't last forever. This global warming has to stop some time".
Boîtes à surprises (French only) Publish Date: 17-FEB-2014 08:26 AM Ottawa a promis en 2004 de bannir les produits de santé naturels risqués ou inefficaces. Dix ans - et des dizaines de ratés - plus tard, c'est apparemment un échec. Une nouvelle étude démontre que des dizaines de produits approuvés contiennent encore des ingrédients cachés ou nocifs. Et de plus en plus de voix accusent le ministère de la Santé d'approuver presque n'importe quoi.
Golden Goose : Where offbeat science is good science Publish Date: 17-FEB-2014 08:18 AM Dr. Chalfie joined us in Chicago for a symposium Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The subject was the Golden Goose Award – a funny-sounding honor with a serious goal. The Golden Goose Award was created in 2012 by academic, business and science organizations to recognize federally funded research. This research often leads to major breakthroughs with little or no connection to the original research, illustrating the unpredictable paths science takes in advancing society.
Dispute over the Future of Basic Research in Canada Publish Date: 16-FEB-2014 07:56 AM Canada’s National Research Council is the country’s premier scientific institution, helping to produce such inventions as the pacemaker and the robotic arm used on the American space shuttle. But last year, its mission changed. The Canadian government announced a transformation of the 98-year-old agency, formerly focused largely on basic research, into a one-stop “concierge service” to bolster technological innovation by industry — historically weak — and generate high-quality jobs.
Éditorial – Les Néoconservateurs (french only) Publish Date: 14-FEB-2014 03:31 PM Les conservateurs ont été de véritables précurseurs lorsqu'ils ont jeté les bases d'un gouvernement qui s'appuie sur la science et la raison. Cent ans plus tard, ils se sont transformés en fossoyeurs de cet État moderne en sapant les bases scientifiques de l'appareil fédéral.
Federal government cutting $3 billion from rail safety, health and environmental science: union Publish Date: 14-FEB-2014 08:58 AM The federal government will cut $2.6 billion in spending and nearly 5,000 jobs from its science-focused departments between 2013 and 2016, says a report released Thursday by a union representing government scientists and professionals. The report, which includes survey data showing a majority of scientists believe their departments are weakening efforts to protect Canadians and the environment, highlights the departure of key experts who did research on rail safety and public health, as well as the recent review of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.
Is the budget good for science? Depends on what you research Publish Date: 12-FEB-2014 10:42 AM Is the 2014 federal budget good for Canadian science? Parsing through the text of yesterday’s budget document it’s fair to say it’s written to look that way. For example, with renewed commitments to the TRIUMF particle accelerator and a cutting-edge quantum institute the government has made a strong show of support for physics. Together with modest gains for the agencies that fund basic research, the allocations seems tailored to answer those who say the Harper government’s policies have been harmful to science in Canada. But while the funding commitments come as welcome news for the many researchers who will benefit from them, critics say the budget is more of a cosmetic softening than a cosmic shift for Canadian science.
Management at federal science agency making wrong decisions, says leaked survey Publish Date: 12-FEB-2014 10:40 AM The National Research Council says it’s not surprised at a survey that says three out of five employees at the federal government’s scientific research agency are frustrated by decisions made by senior management. Responding to questions about an internal survey obtained by Postmedia News, a council spokesperson said the NRC expected a negative reaction from staff because of its ongoing restructuring. Following the 2012 federal budget, the NRC cut spending and shifted its mandate away from doing general scientific research on public policy issues, moving instead toward becoming a “concierge service” for businesses.“Communicating in a time of change is not always an easy task and often creates uncertainty,” NRC spokesman Charles Drouin said in an email.
Conservatives’ Road to a Balanced Budget Takes Too Many Wrong Turns, Says PIPSC Publish Date: 11-FEB-2014 10:32 AM "With this Budget, the interests of Canadians have been sacrificed in favour of electoral considerations and an irrational obsession with balanced budgets. It keeps Canada on the wrong course and puts Canadians' health, environment and economic prosperity at risk. It is simply not possible for the government to 'put its fiscal house in order' when the foundations - the programs and services that Canadians depend on - are crumbling," says Debi Daviau, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), Canada's largest union of public service professionals.
La voie de l’équilibre budgétaire des conservateurs prend toutes sortes de mauvaises directions, selon l’IPFPC (french only) Publish Date: 11-FEB-2014 09:51 AM « Avec ce budget, les intérêts des Canadiens ont été sacrifiés pour des considérations électorales et une obsession irrationnelle de budgets équilibrés. » C'est un budget qui garde le Canada sur la mauvaise voie et qui compromet la santé, l'environnement et la prospérité des Canadiens. Il n'est tout simplement pas possible que le gouvernement « mette de l'ordre dans les finances » de sa maison lorsque les fondations, c'est-à-dire les programmes et les services dont dépendent les Canadiens, s'effritent. » déclare Debi Daviau, présidente et administratrice en chef de l'Institut professionnel de la fonction publique du Canada (IPFPC), le plus grand syndicat de professionnels de la fonction publique au Canada.
British scientists’ advice welcomed by government, minister says Publish Date: 10-FEB-2014 09:48 AM It was an unusual scene for Ottawa: A cabinet minister telling university scientists that his government needs independent and vocal science advice, with direct access to the prime minister. The minister was from Britain: David Willetts, minister for universities and science. And his speech Monday on how his government cherishes independent science advice on everything from climate change to medical ethics was unlike what Canadian scientists are used to hearing from leaders here. A non-scientist himself, Willetts told how he and his cabinet colleagues regularly consult a network of independent science advisers for information on political issues and crises.