30 July
2012

The Canadian Federal government has earned a reputation in the scientific community (and perhaps more widely) for secrecy, heavy handed management of the media, and over-emphasis of private interests over public ones. This is most conspicuous in the way they have dealt with science policy, Federally funded science labs, and their own staff. The most recent example of this can be seen in the latest federal budget and the way in has altered science funding.

The Canadian National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) provides money for basic and applied science research. While it budget is allocated is not particular large by international standards, it was widely recognized as doing a very good job. A particular strength of the system has been the Discovery Grant program which provides moderate-to-small amounts money to researchers based on their track record and plans for the next five years. The big strength of this program was that it provided fairly stable funding that allowed scientists and engineering who displayed good performance a lot of discretion to continue to do good work, without a lot of administrative overhead. Like any big government system, it had it's critics, but both nationally and internationally people recognized that it was among the best programs in any country in terms of how it was administered and how decisions were made. As a department head, the acknowledged strength of this program helped me to recruit great new people to Canada as professors, even though the total dollar amounts available are not that large.

In the last federal budget, NSERC was told to shift resources from this very


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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