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Congratulations on the wonderful work you are doing and the evident impact it is having

April 21, 2009

says James L. Turk, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. The CAUT is also holding a forum on the subject in Ottawa on Thursday April 23.

On behalf of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, I want to congratulate you and your colleagues on your letter to the Prime Minister, your fine web site and your success in getting more than 2,000 scientists and researchers to add their names to the letter.

You make the case clearly and persuasively.

As you know, CAUT shares your concerns. Since that budget was announced, we have been highlighting our concern about no new money being allocated to the three granting councils and about them being forced to “reallocate” $147.9-million of their current budgets. We have expressed similar concern with the lack of funding for Genome Canada and cuts to the National Research Council. Equally we have expressed concern about the efforts of the federal government to set the direction for scientific research, rather than understanding that those should be set by the scientific community through consultative and peer-review measures.

Our efforts began with our next-day analysis of the budget which you have been kind enough to link to on your web site. I hope you have also seen the open letter we sent to the Prime Minister on February 12th outlining our concerns (http://www.caut.ca/uploads/20090212_Harper_FundingResearch.pdf).

Since then, we have been working with Canada’s media to highlight these issues and to ensure they are not dropped from the government’s agenda or the public view. One of the most recent discussions in which we participated was Steve Paikin’s TVO show, The Agenda, which is available on the show’s website under “Science in Peril” at http://www.tvo.org/cfmx/tvoorg/theagenda/index.cfm?page_id=7&bpn=779473&ts=2009-04-13%2020:00:35.0

As you likely know, our effort to bring these concerns directly to the Minister of Science and Technology resulted in one of the most bizarre and difficult meetings we have experienced in CAUT’s 57-year history. In case you did not see the Globe and Mail story on the meeting, you can find it at http://www.globecampus.ca/in-the-news/article/researchers-fear-stagnation-under-tories/

We would appreciate any advice you may have for CAUT as to next steps we could take to press the government. As a large national organization representing 65,000 academic staff at 121 universities and colleges across Canada, there are many possibilities, such as producing public informational material, organizing a briefing session on Parliament Hill, and arranging regional public meetings for scientists to explain what is at stake for Canada. Your thoughts about these or other ideas would be warmly welcomed.

Please feel free to get in touch with me by email (james.turk@caut.ca) or by phone (my direct line is 613-726-5176 ).

Again congratulations on the wonderful work you are doing and the evident impact it is having.

Yours sincerely,

James L. Turk
Executive Director/Directeur général
Canadian Association of University Teachers/Association canadienne des professeures et professeurs d’université
2705 promenade Queensview Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K2B 8K2
Tel: 613-820-2270, ext. 176
Fax: 613-820-7244
Email: turk@caut.ca

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