Science Policy

Ottawa officialise le péage du futur pont Champlain (French only)
Publish Date: 10-APR-2014 10:57 AM
Après avoir martelé pendant des mois que ce serait «pas de péage, pas de pont», le gouvernement de Stephen Harper vient ainsi de rendre officiel son mantra.  
 
Biologie synthétique et climat : pourquoi nos politiciens n’en parlent pas (French only)
Publish Date: 01-APR-2014 11:09 AM
Tandis qu’on épluche les rapports d’impôt des politiciens, l’actualité scientifique dévoile ces jours-ci deux bombes qui risquent d’influencer plus lourdement nos vies que ces politicailleries : la biologie synthétique et le second chapitre du cinquième rapport du Groupe intergouvernemental d’experts sur le climat (GIEC).  
 
Le retour du mammouth (French only)
Publish Date: 29-MAR-2014 11:00 AM
Ottawa — Les conservateurs n’ont pas pu résister. Ils ont encore transformé leur dernier budget en projet de loi omnibus, un fourre-tout qui amende une trentaine de projets de loi, la plupart n’ayant rien à voir avec le budget. (…)  
 
Canada falling behind on innovation
Publish Date: 23-MAR-2014 10:32 AM
While we tend to celebrate private entrepreneurship, the state is crucially important in driving and shaping innovation. The question of which economies will thrive and which will lag behind on innovation has a lot to do with sound public policy.  
 
Harper’s pick for new minister unlikely to inflame science community
Publish Date: 19-MAR-2014 02:40 PM
The appointment of amiable backbencher Ed Holder as Minister of State for Science and Technology is not expected to inflame the testy relationship between the Conservative government and many members of Canada’s scientific community. But neither is Mr. Holder’s elevation to the junior cabinet portfolio being read by the scientists – who have complained of closed research facilities, muzzled scientific staff, and scientific evidence being ignored – as a sign that Prime Minister Stephen Harper may become more conciliatory. 
 
UK Budget sees boosts for data science, graphene an cell therapy
Publish Date: 19-MAR-2014 02:35 PM
British scientists already know that their public funding for the next two years is frozen at £4.6 billion (US$7.6 billion) annually (as it has been since 2010, which for the nation’s seven research-grants agencies has meant a 10% cut in real terms over the past three years), so they did not expect anything transformative from today’s budget. Right on cue, UK chancellor George Osborne continued his trend of throwing small crumbs of funding to science and technology — £222 million additional cash over the next five years — while at the same time failing to announce either long-term support for basic science or a strategy to develop UK industrial research, both of which are sorely needed, say science-policy experts. 
 
Federal scientists are being muzzled, funding cuts are debilitating academic researchers, and private R&D spending is down. Is Canada an unstable environment for science?
Publish Date: 17-MAR-2014 10:36 AM
Scientists are often thought to be mild-mannered, introverts who are most comfortable toiling away in anonymity in the comforts of their laboratory, but this stereotype is being challenged as Canada’s scientific researchers step out of their labs and into national headlines. 
 
Marine conservation efforts often miss the mark, researcher says
Publish Date: 17-MAR-2014 10:32 AM
A Memorial University researcher says marine conservation efforts often miss the mark because they don't target areas truly under threat. In a study published in the journal Aquatic Conservation, Rodolphe Devillers says protection is often granted in areas where it won't inconvenience fishing and other industrial activities — a method he says is at odds with preserving wildlife. Meanwhile, regions that house at-risk species as well as fishing or industrial operations are frequently neglected because governments fear the economic and political costs of interfering with business, he says. 
 
Feds plan more ‘transformation’ at National Research Council
Publish Date: 17-MAR-2014 10:30 AM
The federal government plans to continue with its business-focused transformation of the National Research Council in 2014, according to briefing notes prepared for Minister of State for Science and Technology Greg Rickford, while the agency’s latest plans and priorities forecast a nearly 10-per-cent drop in staffing at the agency over the next year. 
 
Billionaires with big ideas are privatizing American science
Publish Date: 16-MAR-2014 10:20 AM
Last April, President Barack Obama assembled some of the nation's most august scientific dignitaries in the East Room of the White House. Joking that his grades in physics made him a dubious candidate for "scientist in chief," he spoke of using technological innovation "to grow our economy" and unveiled "the next great American project": a $100 million initiative to probe the mysteries of the human brain. 
 
‘Hype’ hurts scientific progress: conference
Publish Date: 14-MAR-2014 10:32 AM
A Vancouver conference is calling on government to protect independent research, as the increasingly cutthroat politics behind funding is pressuring scientists to go for sexy over sensible. The scientific community is struggling in an age where “hype” is harming the quality of research, said health law and policy researcher Timothy Caulfield, speaking downtown Thursday at the Brain Science and Social Responsibility conference. The call comes as Ottawa is under fire for cutting federal programs and shutting down research facilities — backing economic interests at the expense of pure science. 
 
A global summit on scientific advice
Publish Date: 13-MAR-2014 10:28 AM
In the five years since he was appointed as New Zealand's first science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman has earned a reputation as one of the world's most thoughtful practitioners at the interface between science, society and public policy. In 2009, after a distinguished career in medical research, focused on how a baby's environment between conception and birth determines its life-long health, Gluckman was invited by John Key, New Zealand's newly-elected Prime Minister, to create and lead the Office of the PM's Science Advisory Committee. As he admits: "The committee has only one member, namely me. But this was a constitutional way to ensure its independence."  
 
Farmers’ privilege is hollowed out in Bill C-18
Publish Date: 13-MAR-2014 10:25 AM
Farmers have been selecting, harvesting, cleaning, storing, replanting and sharing seeds with each other for many millennia. Through Bill C-18, the Canadian government would turn this customary practice into a “privilege” – a hollow privilege that can be taken away at any time.  
 
The art of science advice to government
Publish Date: 12-MAR-2014 10:23 AM
Peter Gluckman, New Zealand's chief science adviser, offers his ten principles for building trust, influence, engagement and independence. 
 
Environment Canada braces for cuts to climate programs
Publish Date: 12-MAR-2014 10:15 AM
Canada’s efforts to combat climate change could be scaled down as Environment Canada braces for more budgetary belt-tightening over the next three years. A recently released report on Environment Canada’s plans and priorities reveals the department plans to reduce spending from $1.01 billion in 2014-2015 to $698.8 million in 2016-2017.  
 
Il faudrait 83 ans pour tout restaurer (French only)
Publish Date: 11-MAR-2014 09:58 AM
Résultat de décennies de négligence environnementale, les sites miniers abandonnés continueront longtemps de faire partie du paysage québécois. Si Québec continue les travaux de restauration au rythme actuel, il ne faudra pas moins de 83 ans pour venir à bout de cet héritage toxique, pour un coût dépassant le milliard de dollars. Et la facture sera assumée uniquement par les contribuables. 
 
Ottawa takes another stab at solving the innovation conundrum
Publish Date: 09-MAR-2014 10:01 AM
Canadians might be surprised to learn their country has a science and technology strategy. Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled what he called a “bold new framework” in 2007 – “Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage.” Mr. Harper vowed at the time that the plan would make Canada “a world leader in science and technology and a key source of entrepreneurial innovation and creativity.” Seven years later, the promise remains largely unfulfilled. Canada continues to slide further behind other developed countries on most key measures of innovation.  
 
Fired Arctic archaeologist Patricia Sutherland seeks access to research
Publish Date: 05-MAR-2014 08:41 AM
Nearly 2,000 people have signed a petition calling on the federal government to reinstate fired archaeologist Patricia Sutherland in her position at the Canadian Museum of History so she can resume her groundbreaking research on contact between Europeans and the Dorset, the ancient, vanished people of the Arctic. Sutherland was curator of Arctic archeology at what was then called the Canadian Museum of Civilization when she was abruptly fired in April 2012, just months before her Arctic research was featured in National Geographic magazine and on the CBC show The Nature of Things. 
 
La puissance du nombre (French only)
Publish Date: 01-MAR-2014 08:33 AM
Depuis une dizaine d’années, on évalue, on note et on classe les chercheurs, les universités, voire les pays, à l’aide d’« indicateurs d’excellence » qui souvent ne reflètent pas vraiment la qualité de la recherche mais répondent avant tout à des impératifs de marketing. Le sociologue des sciences à l’UQAM, Yves Gingras, décrit dans son dernier livre les dérives de l’évaluation de la recherche et montre les dangers de vouloir tout résumer à un chiffre. 
 
Chalk River reactor will need to prove its ongoing worth to survive
Publish Date: 28-FEB-2014 08:24 AM
The fate of the venerable NRU nuclear research reactor at Chalk River rests on it delivering innovative scientific and economic benefits once medical isotope production ceases in 2016, the head of AECL said Thursday at the Canadian Nuclear Association’s annual Ottawa conference. Earlier, Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver told the several hundred nuclear industry delegates the government hopes to complete its reorganization of AECL into a government-owned contractor-operated (GoCo) partnership next year. He gave no details about which private parties are in the running.