Editorial - 22-18

Guest Contributor
November 30, 2008

Those expecting S&T to play a strategic role in stimulating the faltering Canadian economy were likely disappointed with this week's Throne Speech and economic update. It's one thing to assert support for a strong knowledge-based society and quite another to back up the rhetoric with effective, targeted programs and adequate financial resources.

The Throne Speech that opened this session of Parliament contains the now-standard paragraph on S&T, committing to investment in world-class research facilities and working with industry to exploit Canadian S&T. The government also pledged to implement many of the recommendations contained in the Competition Policy Review Panel and re-introduce its contentious copyright legislation.

Fair enough, but where are the resources required to make this all work? Granted, some of these initiatives don't require massive infusions of money. But maintaining and even enhancing federal support for S&T is critical, particularly as the economy tanks and the government reverses its stand on running deficits.

South of the border Barak Obama is making federal S&T a cornerstone of the US recovery strategy. Not so in Canada. There are no indications that funding boosts for R&D, S&T or innovation are forthcoming in the next federal Budget. In fact, the track record suggests otherwise.

New data show that support for S&T and especially R&D has declined for the first time in five years (see page 4). For an administration that says innovation is the key to future security and prosperity, that's a strange way of demonstrating leadership and commitment.

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