After a long, silent summer, the new Liberal government is beginning to show its hand on its agenda for the coming year. Recent speeches by the Finance and Industry ministers indicate the Liberals are willing to spend and are open to new ideas for how to best target new and re-allocated funding. The speech by Industry minister David Emerson is particularly enlightening.
In an address to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Emerson acknow-ledged that private sector R&D spending was weak and that new mechanisms were “almost certainly” required to stimulate greater commercialization. The existing focus on information and communication technologies, biotechnology and nanotechnology will be maintained.
These are not earthshattering pronouncements. But the fact that the government is once again addressing issues surrounding priorities for innovation and R&D is encouraging. Concern has been growing within the S&T community that innovation had fallen off the government’s agenda, so any indication to the contrary is welcome.
Emerson also stressed that technology is beneficial for mature industries as well as those on the cutting edge. Drawing on his experience in the forestry sector, he rightly asserts that innovation is essential in all areas of the economy, traded or otherwise. Now if the Industry department can figure out where it mislaid the nation’s innovation agenda, we’ll all have a common platform to move forward on. National leadership is absolutely essential and there’s no time like the present to accept that responsibility and act.