Monday, 2 February 2009

Harper Government Continues Anti-Science Streak

Apologies if I may be a bit late on the issue here; I haven't really been paying attention to Canadian politics much lately. The Harper government recently released the federal budget, and things are not looking up for science in Canada:
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.

In other words, Harper and his cronies have decided to reduce research grants and funding for basic research, while at the same time, trying to increase the number of graduate students in the country. That's almost paradoxical. It's kinda hard for grad students to find a supervisor, if potential supervisors can't get new funding to support them!

On top of this, the Conservatives seem to be playing favourites with Canadian research institutions. Genome Canada got absolutely no new funding this year, while the Institute for Quantum Computing got a grant for $50 million that wasn't even peer-reviewed.

And thus science in Canada continues sliding downwards. As someone who's trying to find a job in the scientific community right now, this is very disheartening. I very much want to be involved in Canada's scientific community, but the Harper government seems like it's doing whatever it can to force me, and many other young, aspiring scientists, to take our talents abroad.

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