When it comes to valuing science and sustained support for science policy, Quebec has no Canadian peers. From the creation of a science ministry in 1973 through the glory days of the Conseil de la science et de la technologie (CST) under the leadership of Camille Limoges, Quebec has long taken a leadership role in formulating cogent science policy and translating it into funded programs. That tradition continues to this day.
As a result, science strategies extend over successive government mandates led by different parties. Whether the ruling party is Liberal or Parti Quebeois, there’s rarely been a question of a party’s dedication to the importance science, research and innovation play in the social and economic realms.
So it’s no surprise that science was afforded its own debate during the current election campaign. All four major parties weighed into the question – What science for the Quebec of tomorrow? – debating issues ranging from research funding and the place of the private sector in science to R&D tax credits and support for scientific culture. Even the front running, centre-right Coalition Avenir Québec acknowledged the importance of the province’s Strategy for Research and Innovation, describing it as a “good document”.
Contrast that to Ontario. Not only were these issues never mentioned by the Progressive Conservatives during their successful bid for power, the newly elected PCs wasted no time in dumping the province’s science advisor appointed by the previous Liberal adminstration. We’re still waiting to see whether the PCs will get around to filling the vacancy.
The discrepancy speaks volumes.
Mark Henderson, Senior Correspondent