In the last few weeks, Canada has been in the global spotlight with its focus on science, technology and innovation (STI). Canada hosted the G7 leaders summit this year where two of the five themes were related to STI. In May, prime minister Justin Trudeau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains visited several R&D and innovation places south of the border, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Silicon Valley, to trumpet Canada’s strengths in STI.
Those trips – intended to both highlight Canada’s strengths in STI and to learn more about what makes the US an innovation powerhouse — also brought attention to our challenges. This vigourous wooing of our closest and dearest trading partner – or so they seemed to be until the war of words during and after the G7 summit – emphasizes that we need global partners in order to grow our economy. But even in such a dynamic and evolving global environment, Canada has to find its STI niches and pursue them relentlessly and with strategic vigour.
The recent G7 summit was a forum for Canada to tell the world that when it comes to hot button STI issues, such as ethical artificial intelligence and fighting climate change, we can take the lead and deliver results. The global STI community within the G7 took action by bringing pressing concerns to their respective leaders, and the resulting documents appear to indicate that they listened, even if only in paper.
Now, where are we again with those greenhouse gas (GHG) emission 2030 targets under the Paris Agreement? Julie Gelfand, commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, reported to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last March the Auditors General report on climate change, saying “Canada still has a long way to go.” Let’s start working and show the world that we can lead in STI. And our partners will come knocking on our doors.