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Retired CEO of EnCana Corp. rips into “the culture of Canada’s research universities…”

April 27, 2009

Writing in the Globe “Not all research deserves public funding“(did anyone say that?), Gwyn Morgan dismisses the “dontleavecanadabehind” campaign and much more.

Morgan brings back some old rhetoric: “Esoteric research that doesn’t have the slightest chance of yielding any real value”. “ivory towers of academia”. “Many qualified applicants are turned away from areas such as engineering and medicine, while universities continue to graduate thousands with knowledge that is neither useful in getting a job, nor in helping our country succeed in a competitive world.”

A few interesting points:

  • By Rob: It’s ironic that Mr. Morgan twice uses the phrase “inconvenient truth” to decry academic research funding. The phrase invokes Al Gore’s documentary of the same name – a documentary about the effects of climate change based on research often decried as irrelevant and low-quality by those who wish to see returns on investment. And indeed, it is the inconvenient truths – and the unexpected truths and yes, possibly even the unmarketable truths – that are revealed by academic science funded by governments. Research into convenient truths are properly – and effectively – funded by private industry.
  • No reference whatsoever by Morgan to what’s happening in the US (the main trigger of the “dontleavecanadabehind” campaign). Any ideas why?
  • and as expected, comes Morgan’s “…advice to the ivory towers of academia is to remember that government will need to move from deficit to surplus in order to rebalance the books as the economy recovers. The choice is to drive change yourselves, or have it thrust upon you by others.” But isn’t it why we called on the PM to “assure the creative forces of Canada that cutting research funding in a deficit-inducing stimulus budget, is not a precursor of an even deeper cut when the time comes for deficit-reducing exercises.”
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