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Harper, researchers grasp olive branch

April 23, 2009

according to today’s Globe and Mail. A more accurate title would have been “Harper and University Presidents extend olive branch to researchers” which is of course most welcome. Elizabeth Church captures exactly what’s on everyone’s mind, when she writes:

“University leaders are walking a careful line. Canadian campuses are queued up to receive billions in federal infrastructure spending and for that they must be grateful. But they also have found themselves in the position of explaining to the federal government the outrage among researchers who fill their campuses.”

As far as we are concerned, we think it’s a positive development to see the Harper government engaging with university leaders who are finally speaking on behalf of their researchers and not only on behalf of their physical plant managers.

…. and here are some quotes from some of them:

McGill principal Heather Munroe-Blum (who led the Universities’ charge on the federal infrastsructure fund last December): “It is a day for celebration … and a powerful symbol to the entire scientific community.”

Dalhousie President Tom Traves:University presidents are well aware of the larger setting and we are concerned on behalf of our colleagues who look on the reduction of funding to the granting councils as a problem. The presidents would definitely like to see the reductions reinstated, but in the short term here and now the glass is seven-eighths full“.

University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera: “University presidents must act as a bridge between researchers and government officials, and represent their interests. I believe it is up to us and the researchers to make the compelling case for the continued increase in this base.”

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