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What the letter says and what it does not say

April 21, 2009

Our open letter has been misrepresented in so many media outlets, that it is time to set the record straight:

  1. The letter does not question, speculate nor offer any opinion on, the government’s commitment to research and discovery.
  2. It does not request immediate restoration of cash for research, but asks the government to restore the morale of Canada’s research community by promptly announcing “a multi-year plan to significantly increase this country‚Äôs R&D investment through our granting councils.”
  3. It commends the government for the investments it announced on projects related to R&D and higher education.
  4. It expresses the concerns of the scientific community about the — probably unforeseen– side effects of the government’s actions, resulting from its stimulus budget such as
  • The possible effect of the required matching funds on Universities and provincial priorities.
  • The dramatic impact on the Canadian research community of announcing Tri-council cuts, exactly when a substantial investment in infrastructure is made, and on time to be measured and compared with the announcements south of the border.
  • The very poor intellectual wisdom shown by earmarking the SSHRC scholarships.

The letter also makes various recommendations that we find reasonable and feasible, in particular

  • to reconsider the matching constraints.
  • to re-evaluate the mandate of the CFI.
  • to allow Canada’s senior researchers to manage the recruitment of young HQPs.

This is the least we thought one can do to correct quickly (and cheaply!) the mixed and discouraging message of the government to Canada’s front-line researchers, who also happen to be in the business of training and retaining the next generation of the nation’s scientists, humanists and intellectuals.

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