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Manning tells government to be more transparent with research money

May 28, 2009

Speaking yesterday at Science Day in Canada, Preston Manning urged the government to be more open and transparent about where research money is being spent and how decisions are made about its allocation. Manning suggested that confusion is often the cause of disappointment and dissatisfaction with federal research spending, noting that the government spends a considerable sum on research but that it isn’t clear how the decisions are made about who gets the money. Researchers are left wondering:

“Was somebody else lobbying better than I was lobbying, or do they like this more than that? I think when you don’t know the process or the structure, you can misinterpret motives and why things happen the way they do.”

Manning also lamented the confusion caused by political semantics:

“There’s no agreement on definitions. Everybody with the stimulus and the economic recovery package is presenting their demands in terms of infrastructure,” Manning said. “But the word infrastructure means quite a different thing to a manager of a science project than it does to Public Works or the Treasury Board or to the university.”

Finally, according to the CBC, Manning urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to make a declaration recognizing the importance of Canadian science to help ease tensions and to reinforce the public perception that taxpayers’ money spent on research is well-spent.

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