Editorial - 30-20

Guest Contributor
December 21, 2016

The year 2016 is being described in a variety of (mostly negative) ways — but for Canadian STI, it will likely be remembered as the year of perpetual consultation. External reviews of economic growth, fundamental science, innovation and many others were staffed up and unleashed, propelling STI stakeholders into a holding pattern that persists as the year draws to a close.

The inaugural Liberal Budget contained funding to keep the STI ship afloat while the review panels set about their work. It also contained a few indications of where the government plans to go with its forthcoming innovation agenda, enhanced by a welcome appreciation for science and a balanced focus on high-tech and the resource economy.

With the unmuzzling of federal scientists (now enshrined contractually – see page 5) and emphasis on evidence-informed decision making, Canada has become a beacon of openness and tolerance recognized globally. But hard decisions remain that could remove some of the luster.

With a refocused Innovation Agenda aimed at scaling up, emerging technology and talent, the decisions of the government in growing the economy and the role of STI must comprise a powerful yet flexible collective toolbox that serves and enables all stakeholders.

Finding successful niches and succeeding on the world stage — at a time when our neighbour to the south is retrenching — will challenge our policy makers as never before. If they get it (mostly) right, 2017 could be the turnaround year Canada desperately needs.

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