May 17, 2009
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I have arrived in Atlanta for BIO 2009! Stay tuned for updates on Ontario, Canadian and international developments.
Tonight’s developments: the Canada reception was at Dailey’s, in the cigar bar, and was very smoky. Canada’s Minister of Industry, Tony Clement spoke, but no-one I met heard a word he said (bad sound system). I’m sure we’ll hear more from him over the next couple of days, but if anyone in his office is reading this, I would love a transcript.
April 20, 2009
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Canadian scientists, dismayed by cuts of $113 million to the three primary granting agencies in this year’s federal budget, sent an open letter of protest to PM Harper last week that collected 2,000 signatures.
The response, from Minister of Industry Tony Clement, was certainly better pitched than the response at budget time from the government’s initial spokes-o-practor, Gary Goodyear. Mr. Goodyear also responded to the protest letter — penning a letter to Nature — and succeeded in not igniting any additional controversy.
I have three points in reaction to the budget and the protest letter:
- The federal government clearly chose an investment in infrastructure and training at the expense of basic research, but is clearly embarrassed to say so in light of peer country decisions. The U.S. has prominently featured major increases in research funding, and the UK has pledged not to let science be a victim of the economy (though we will see Wednesday if they put their money, or their foot, where PM Brown’s mouth is).
- The Ontario government has done significant work to close the gap in research funding and infrastructure matching funds left by the federal budget.
- We are starting to see local impacts of the funding decisions generate pressure on individual MPs. For example, the federal minister of public works, Christian Paradis, was “angry” and said he will do everything he can to ensure that the famous Mont Mégantic Observatory, which is in his riding of Mégantic-L’Érable east of Montreal, receives funding to remain open. The NSERC, which decided to drop the observatory’s funding, has cut a number of projects to cope with a $70-million drop in its budget.
January 29, 2009
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Genome Canada is causing quite a stir this morning, picked up by ScienceInsider this afternoon. That, plus more budget reaction from a Research Canada press release and a thumbs-down from the CVCA below…
The CBC story on Genome Canada funding has some reaction from Tony Clement:
Minister of Industry Tony Clement, speaking to CBC Newsworld on Thursday morning, disputed that funding had been cut, saying Genome Canada was in the third year of a five-year budget rollout.
“It would not be surprising that they would not get an extra amount in this budget because that was taken care of in the last two budgets,” Clement told CBC News.
So what is the status?
Godbout said that while money from last year’s budget was allocated over the next four years to fund ongoing projects, there no indication that they would receive nothing this year for new initiatives.
He pointed to a project to sequence the genomes of 50 different types of cancer, led by Ontario Institute of Cancer Research scientific director Tom Hudson, as one project that would be $25 million short of funding without further federal support.
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