There’s nothing like the prospect of a closely fought election to prompt Ottawa to disgorge a flood of programs, policy positions and strategic frameworks. With the exception (at press time) of the interim report of the Commercialization Task Force, there’s been a remarkable flurry of S&T-related initiatives.
First and foremost is the Economic Update and accompanying position paper — . The Update proposes to inject billions of dollars into university research, reinvest in the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and encourage scientists and engineers to acquire business skills. There’s even a $1-billion fund that the provinces can access to improve the productivity of their institutions.
If the Liberals manage to maintain their hold on power, there should be dancing in the halls of academia.
Unfortunately, funding commitments often take a long time before they reach their intended targets. Budget 2005 is a prime example. Increases to the budgets of the granting councils are still caught up in the legislative process and when the government falls the money could disappear down a black hole. There are various mechanisms for ensuring that this won’t occur, but no one seems sure which one may be employed. It’s not even clear how much S&T money is stuck in the same quandary.
Assigning blame to the Liberals for following procedure, however arcane, is hardly fair. But before we celebrate the latest investments in S&T and innovation, it might be prudent to wait until the election is over.