House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was research.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Science, Research and Innovation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I absolutely agree with the hon. member that we are missing out on a great opportunity. The government has claimed that it is not picking favourites, but we need to make sure that it is not. Let us leave it to the scientific, engineering and humanities community to decide the areas in which we should be investing taxpayers' dollars.

Opposition Motion--Science, Research and Innovation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for St. Paul's.

I am privileged in my riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca to have truly some outstanding researchers, from the NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, as well as Camosun College, Royal Roads University and the University of Victoria. Some really outstanding work is done there, such as the Neptune project and the climate change modelling. In fact, Dr. Andrew Weaver from the University of Victoria was on the world-class, Nobel-winning, international panel for climate change. In that kind of milieu, it is inspiring to see the work that these men and women do.

Therefore, it was with a great deal of sadness—and dismay, I might add—that we saw in the budget an absence of recognition of the importance of publicly funded research in Canada.

We know that in these harsh economic times the government has an obligation to provide a short-term stimulus package that is going to deal with the acute needs of our country, but it is also very important for the government to think into the future. What kind of vision, what kind of Canada, do we want to have in the future?

If we answer that question, we have to come to the conclusion that public funding of basic research is absolutely essential for a vision that enables our country, our nation, to be able to capitalize on the economic challenges in the future. Conversely, the absence of addressing this challenge will put Canadians at a huge disadvantage in terms of the economic and social needs of our country and of our world.

Said another way, the absence of funding into basic research is going to severely cripple the ability of our country, our workers, our economy, and our post-secondary institutions to be able to maximize the opportunities that do exist now and will exist into the future.

The government rightly, for which I compliment it, has put money into infrastructure in science. The problem is this: If we look at infrastructure as being the car, what actually does the research is the driver. What the government has failed to do is invest moneys into the driver. It has failed to invest moneys into those who do the research in our nation.

One of the first things that the government did when it came to power, which was actually shocking, was to eliminate the actual role and position of the national science adviser in Canada. Arthur Carty is an extraordinary scientist. Unfortunately, the government actually eliminated the position of the science adviser to the Prime Minister. What kind of a decision is that, and why on earth would the government actually do that?

If we look at the input in terms of what of research and development does, public research funding of our universities has a ten-to-one outcome. In fact, it can represent 2% of our GDP. Back in 1999, this represented over $15 billion and over 200,000 jobs. In our country today, that represents a much larger amount of money.

The government rightly gave the three granting councils—the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, or NSERC; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and the CIHR—money for their infrastructure. What the government failed to do was to enable these granting councils to implement and invest money in those who do the actual research.

In fact, I might add that the government is asking these three research councils to actually cut $146 million from their budgets over the next three years. Why on earth is the government asking our research councils, in this time of economic need, at this time when we need to make these investments into research, to cut moneys?

Compare this to the United States. President Obama is actually investing over $10 billion into basic research. What that is going to do is cause a significant challenge for us to be able to retain the scientists we have in our country right now. This is a serious challenge, because we cannot manufacture these scientists overnight. They will go to where they have the greatest opportunities.

As I said before, we have more than 121 post-secondary institutions and 65,000 academic researchers in Canada.

In advancing the needs of our nation, I want to draw the attention of the House to a few very specific requests. One is for a 30-metre telescope. I think many Canadians would be very surprised to know that our nation is always in the top three in astronomy in the world. The Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics laboratory, in my riding, is the number one centre in all of Canada for the type of research in optics and applied research and engineering. Investment in the telescope, which is $150 million over three years, is critical to maintain our ability to be at the forefront of applied science and research in this very technically difficult area. The benefits to our country are ten to one for the investment.

In terms of high-tech parks, high-tech parks have been built all over the world. China is building dozens of high-tech parks. In our country, there is a very cogent request from Dale Gann, who is the president of the Canadian Association of University Research Parks. This very modest investment would enable our high-tech parks to expand and take advantage of the collaboration that is necessary for us to capitalize on the research that exists. The absence of investing in these high-tech parks will actually cripple our economy in the future.

In regard to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, at this time when we know the challenge of global warming, would Canadians not find it shocking to know that the government is failing to invest in this area of excellence? However, that is what the government has done. In fact, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences will have to close its doors in 2010, and the more than 12 research networks it has built will be eliminated.

We have people such as Dr. Andrew Weaver, as I said before, who was on the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Why on earth, during one of the great challenges of our world, climate change, do we have a government that will actually cut funding for this organization, for this group of scientists who do cutting-edge research to deal with one of the most pressing challenges of our time?

Genome Canada is a group that funds world-class research in proteomics and genomics. At its heart is the ability of that research to be applied to some of the great diseases that affect humankind. We have some of the best scientists in the world, at the University of Toronto, at the University of British Columbia, at the University of Victoria, Winnipeg, Montreal, and in other centres, who do cutting-edge research into genomics and proteomics.

If we do not allow these researchers to be funded, it will cripple the ability of our nation to be at the forefront of dealing with some of the great diseases of our planet that affect our population. I think most of our citizens would be shocked to hear that the government has not invested new moneys into these groups that would enable our researchers to deal with the diseases that affect Canadians and their families.

The other issue I want to address is the issue of government interference. Public research should not be influenced by the minister in terms of meddling in who should or should not be able to do research. Basic research is fundamental for commercial research in the future, but it is also a cornerstone for many other types of research in our society. Not all research is for commercialization. Our public institutions, our universities and colleges, and other public research facilities do research in order to broaden the scope of our understanding and to create that base so that commercial research can take place.

However, the minister is actually saying that the government will have a hand in the crafting of the types of proposals that CFI, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, can actually fund. That kind of interference is appalling because it will affect the type of research that will be supported. In other words, the government is saying to the scientists that only research that is done with the priorities of the government of the day will be funded.

The issue, though, is that research, basic research in particular, does not take place over a month or a couple of years, but over several years, if not decades. That is the length of time it takes to make sure the research is taking place. That is the kind of surety and confidence that our researchers need to have in terms of their funding to undertake some of the great challenges our world faces.

In closing, I have to say this. The government has an enormous opportunity. It has failed to execute and articulate a vision for our researchers and for basic research in Canada. It can change it, and I demand that it changes it now.

Opposition Motion--Science, Research and Innovation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Cambridge
Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Minister of State (Science and Technology)

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a comment to the member opposite.

By the way, I would like to thank him for supporting the budget that contains all these measures he now speaks against.

The member is absolutely wrong. There is $1 billion for green technology, so he has either not read the budget or is misleading. Budget 2008 had over $600 million going straight to basic research. This budget has $1.5 billion for science and technology, the vast majority going to discovery research and basic research.

My question is this. The member cites legislated strategic reviews of the granting councils, which they did and they found some areas that, in their opinion, were not that valuable. They recommended that we redirect that money into other programs, which we did.

The member over there did not stand once and vote against those strategic reviews. The member supported them. Why is he now, in the House, suggesting such misinformation?

Opposition Motion--Science, Research and Innovation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that Liberals are supporting the budget under protest, because to not support the budget would actually cause an election.

We think it is irresponsible, in fact, that the government tagged a whole number of elements onto the budget that have nothing to do with the financial well-being of our country. However, we made a decision to support the budget because we do not think it is the right thing to put our country into an election at this point in time. That would be irresponsible.

The moneys, the minister knows full well, have gone into infrastructure. What he and his government have failed to do is to dedicate the moneys for the people who do the actual research. We compliment the minister in terms of the infrastructure money, but it has not gone to those who do the research.

Secondly, they have done the strategic reviews. We can agree to that, but we do not agree with those moneys being ripped away from degree-granting groups and being put into other areas that are the priorities of the ministers or the government. That should not be their call. Those moneys should be redirected back into areas of basic research and what the scientists of our country want to do in order to allow the basic research to take place. That is a central flaw, because this kind of ministerial and government interference only damages and harms basic research in our nation.

Opposition Motion--Science, Research and Innovation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is still not willing to recognize the fact that the money he is talking about was actually returned to the NRC, one of the granting councils. In fact, we upped it to $200 million for IRAP, which was the number one program we heard about in prebudget consultations. That is necessary research for our industries and manufacturing sectors. I might point out that we did not hear from the member.

Some of the basic research the member denies is going on includes nanotechnology for biomedical devices. What is wrong with that? It includes neutron stars and black holes, natural plant products, and Aristotelian philosophy. It sounds pretty basic to me. Ocean technology has a bit of importance for our country, but the member over there is trying to tell Canadians that we are not funding basic research.

There is research into pain and child health, marine prediction, occupational health psychology, genomics, bioinformatics, behavioural neuroscience, public policy, and thrombosis. The member is a medical doctor. He should know the need for basic medicine. The member is choosing to ignore the facts in citing the very smallest thing to scare Canadians and scientists and to project incorrect information.

Opposition Motion--Science, Research and Innovation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Here is the challenge, Mr. Speaker, to clear the air here. What has happened is that the government has allowed funding to go on for the next three years. What it has not done is provide new funding that would enable our researchers to do the research they need to do beyond 2012. That is the kind of research and moneys that we are asking for right now.

Furthermore, moneys have been put, as the minister said, into research for commercialization. What we are talking about is basic research and investment into the men and women who do the research in our country. He is actually talking about old moneys that were already available. He is not talking about new moneys.

Canadian Neutron Beam Centre
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre at Chalk River Laboratories is a national science facility promoting Canada's federal goals for science and technology. The centre relies on the NRU reactor, a multi-purpose source for neutron beam research, isotope production and support for Canada's world-class nuclear power technology.

That homegrown talent is what Ontario will benefit from by buying local with the next generation of CANDU to power jobs in the Ontario economy. For Canada to maintain its leadership position in this field of scientific research and maintain our dominant market position as the world leader in medical isotope production, replacing the NRU has never been more critical.

With the memory of Nobel Prize winner Bert Brockhouse and his work at Chalk River to guide us, and the pool of talent to continue his work at Chalk River Laboratories available, the National Research Council of Canada is ready and capable to repeat the success of the original NRU, to serve Canadian science research development well into the 21st century.

JYJ 4 KIDS Program
Statements By Members

March 9th, 2009 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to recognize the remarkable efforts of Dyson McLaren, creator of the JYJ 4 KIDS program in North Bay. Dyson works as a custodian at Dr. MacDougall Public School, however, in his free time he spends countless hours rebuilding donated computers and then gives them to children and families who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

With the help of Ruth Wilson and Robin Turner, Dyson has refurbished and given away literally hundreds of computers over the past several years. All he asks for in return is that students work hard in school, treat others fairly and help their parents with chores around the house. His message of compassion and respect for others is one that inspires people of all ages.

On behalf of all the citizens of Nipissing—Timiskaming and all hon. members, I would like to thank Dyson McLaren for his invaluable contribution to his community and to his country.

Dan Bigras
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 18, Dan Bigras will be crowned la Francophonie's Richelieu LaSalle personality of 2009. This event will occur during the Semaine internationale de la Francophonie, specifically on the Journée internationale de la Francophonie.

Mr. Bigras is an artist with a deep commitment to the situation of homeless youth. This famed author, composer, performer and actor will be receiving this particular honour for his contribution to the advancement of la Francophonie. Chair of the organizing committee Gilles Dubien has described that mission very aptly by stating that it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to nurture the vitality of our language and ensure that the French culture thrives in our community. I rise today in the House to draw attention to the exceptional role of Dan Bigras in helping our Quebec culture thrive.

Speaking for myself and my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, I offer our most sincere congratulations to Mr. Bigras.

Leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past Sunday, the Ontario New Democrats made history. Sunday, rightly International Women's Day, marked Hamilton MPP Andrea Horvath's first day in office as the new leader of the provincial party.

Andrea's passion and determination from her years as a community organizer, a seven-year city councillor and, finally, as MPP will serve her well in her role as leader.

On behalf of the federal NDP caucus, I offer Andrea my heartfelt congratulations. I wish her all the best as she takes the reins and continues the fight for Ontario's working families at Queen's Park.

I also would like to acknowledge and thank outgoing leader, Howard Hampton, for his 13 years of service to the provincial party. The commitment of Howard and his wife, Shelley Martel, to progressive political and social change are an inspiration to all who are fighting of behalf of ordinary Canadians.

Marc Diab
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, the life of another brave Canadian soldier serving in Afghanistan was lost to a roadside bomb. Trooper Diab was participating in security operations in the Shah Wali Kot District yesterday afternoon when his armoured vehicle was rocked by a powerful blast.

Trooper Marc Diab fled his native Lebanon as a teenager in 2000. I am told that his Lebanese culture influenced the last nine years he spent in Canada serving his community and his country. He lived with his family in Mississauga and regularly attended Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Toronto and volunteered as a camp counsellor every summer.

Trooper Diab did much of his military training in Petawawa and was described as a talented keyboard player and often referred to his jeep as his second baby, his first being his girlfriend, Mary Barakat.

As parliamentarians, our votes directly affect the lives of our soldiers and we feel the loss of each soldier we send in to duty. We, in the House, regardless of political stripe, thank and honour him for his courageous service.

Tibet
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the current economic challenges will also produce realignments with respect to global expectations.

This week the world's attention will turn to the situation of Tibet and the 50th anniversary of the national uprising within China. The 50 year pursuit of real autonomy and human rights that the Dalai Lama terms a two-way solution within a united China is being marked around the world this week.

We have with us today a number of prominent Tibetan Canadians who are here to remind us, as parliamentarians, of the contribution we now need to make to this decades long impasse.

Canada because of our traditions of peaceful persistence and innovation. Canada because of our successful form of federalism that gives us the insight we can recommend to China, as we have elsewhere, in terms of accommodation and protection of minorities. Canada because of our tradition of human rights ensures we will not ignore where they are at risk.

Just as Tibetan Canadian families here in Canada cancelled their new year's celebration to protest the dire situation, including arrests in Tibet, so too we must ask ourselves urgent questions. If not by the peaceful measures of the Dalai Lama, then how? If not now, when new expectations--

Tibet
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River.

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, recently it has been my pleasure to announce the pending construction of two new schools in my consistency: an elementary school for the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and a kindergarten to grade 12 school for the Birch Narrows First Nation.

A school represents the heart of a northern community and these new facilities will ensure a healthy future. We have worked hand in hand with the Government of Saskatchewan and the governments of Birch Narrows and Peter Ballantyne to make these projects become a reality.

So many in these communities have worked so hard, for so long, to have these schools built. It is my great pleasure to have aided them in having these much needed facilities constructed at last. I would like to commend Chief Robert Sylvester and Chief Darrell McCallum for their hard work.

This government is determined to ensure that first nations students will have the quality learning facilities and the education to succeed in any endeavour they choose, including the leadership positions of the future.

Major Kistabish
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, we recently lost an exceptional man, with the death of Mr. Major Kistabish.

A child of the Anishnabe nation, Major Kistabish was elected to the council of the Abitiwinni first nation of Pikogan, near Amos, at the age of 21. His schooling at the college and university level equipped him with the general and specialized background needed to help his community. He worked in a variety of fields: education. health, tourism, and socio-economic development.

Mr. Kistabish took great pride in his roots and was renowned for his knowledge of his nation's history. Throughout his entire life and in all his activities, he focused his efforts on spreading knowledge of the Anishnabe culture among his brethren and those in other linguistic groups.

Among his many accomplishments was one of the most successful aboriginal tourist activities available in Quebec, the river excursion “Bercé par l'Harricana.”

On behalf of all the residents of Abitibi-Témiscamingue , I pay this final tribute to Mr. Kistabish for his constant commitment to his people and his contribution to the development of his community, which expanded to benefit our entire region.