Monday, January 13, 2014

Just Announced: Yet Another Science and Technology Policy Review!

Greg Rickford. Photo c/o FedNor.
          by Chuck Black

Greg Rickford, the Minister of State for Science and Technology (S&T), has announced the launch of yet another Federal government consultation to "seek input from Canadians on a new federal Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy."

But this new report, which comes on the heels of the Federal Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies (or "Emerson Report," which was presented to the then Industry Minister Christian Paradis in November 2012) and the Review of Federal Support to Research and Development (or "Jenkins Panel," which was presented to then Minister of State Gary Goodyear in October 2011), is unlikely to recommend anything substantially different from its predecessors.

As outlined in the January 8th, 2014 Industry Canada (IC) press release "Government Seeks the Public's Input on Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy Renewal," this latest consultation will seek to update the 2007 Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage report which defines the functions and responsibilities of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the National Research Council (NRC) and various other government departments focused on science and administered through IC. The 2007 document advocated focusing government R&D activities around the commercialization of technologies, rather than basic research.

Even better, as outlined in the May 22nd, 2010 blog post "The "Three Kings" of Canadian Commercial Space," the current policy is simply the latest iteration of a longstanding and widely supported policy to encourage research commercialization as the cornerstone of the Canadian science and technology strategy. It's also worth noting that both the Emerson report and the Jenkins panel were essentially in congruence with the existing policy.

Even so, Rickford has come under much recent criticism regarding it. 

For example, as outlined in the January 13th, 2014 News1130 post, "Ottawa’s Minister of State for Science downplays criticism," the Minister has publicly rejected the findings of a survey conducted by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which found that "34 per cent of over 4000 federal scientists asked feel they’re being prevented from talking to media or the public about their work. (As well,)  24 per cent said (that they) have been asked by the government to alter their findings for non-scientific reasons."

According to Rickford, Canada's strength is in basic research, which he considers as "the important work our scientists do, who include government science, is intended to be fully integrated, contribute to our economy and increase the quality of life for Canadians.”

According to the press release, interested parties will have until February 7th, 2014 to submit a written report. 

Just don't expect any major policy changes to come from this initiative. 


  1. Hi Chuck,

    Re: “the Minister of State for Science and Technology (S&T), has announced the launch of yet another Federal government consultation to "seek input from Canadians on a new federal Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy."

    Paraphrasing: The Government is asking the masses to express an opinion on something that the majority knows nothing about in order to declare a policy that would capture the same majority’s votes.
    In other words, the Government is not asking directly those who know something about because they may be faced with policy choices that would not result in votes.

    The Government also thinks that we (those who know something about) are complete idiots, and do not see what they are up to.

    Is there a way you would publish this and sign me as the author? This is my 2014 New Year resolution: “I will not let others shit on my head as long as I have a mouth” (translation from Romanian, my mother tongue).

    Happy New Year,

    Andrew Goldenberg

  2. Consider it done.

    But it's worth noting that at least one business association, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance) is advocating a strong response to the latest consultation.

    While CATA is mostly focused on telecoms, its certainly worthwhile to check out what they're trying to do. Check out their webpage titled "Help us advocate for continued investment into Canada's Science and Technology Communities!" at! to learn more.


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