Thank you, Chair, and thank you, colleagues, for this opportunity.
Good afternoon. I'm very pleased to be here today to assist the committee's study on the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. As was mentioned, with me today is Rob Dunlop from our department. Should you have any technical questions, I may refer to Rob to ensure you get the answers you are looking for.
I also appreciate the opportunity to talk about the important role the Perimeter Institute is playing in making Canada a location for world-class research. This objective is a cornerstone of the federal government's science and technology strategy, and it explains why we support the work undertaken at the Perimeter Institute.
The science and tech strategy rests on fostering three distinct S and T advantages for Canada. The first is a people advantage, the second a knowledge advantage, and the third is the entrepreneurial advantage. These three advantages are critically important for bolstering the prosperity and quality of life for our nation.
Let me first talk about each of these advantages in turn.
Fostering a people advantage means turning Canada into a magnet for developing and attracting talented, skilled, creative individuals. This is one of the most critical elements of a successful nation's economy.
The Perimeter Institute is playing a significant role in this regard. In 10 short years, it has been successful in attracting scientists of the highest international calibre to Canada—not merely reversing the brain drain, ladies and gentlemen, but actually becoming a powerful magnet for talent. This is shown by the successful recruitment of Dr. Neil Turok, a renowned South African physicist and former chair of mathematical physics at the University of Cambridge, to the director's position at the Perimeter Institute in 2008. In addition, Stephen Hawking himself has chosen Perimeter and Canada as his second research home.
The Perimeter also engages with researchers throughout Canada's physics community, cooperating extensively with its academic partners via cross-appointments, adjunct appointments and professorships, joint post-doctoral fellowships, and graduate training. In this regard, Perimeter is truly helping to build Canada's people advantage.
The second pillar of the federal S and T strategy is fostering a knowledge advantage. This means ensuring that Canadians are at the leading edge of the important discoveries that generate health, environmental, societal, and economic benefits for all.
Now, as you may be aware, Perimeter's activities are focused squarely on the promotion of world-class research excellence in theoretical physics. Indeed, Perimeter's goal is to bring together the world's best minds to advance our knowledge of physics and develop new ideas about space, time, matter, and information.
Since being established, the Perimeter Institute has built a global reputation for exceptional research. The institute has become a focal point for theoretical physics, both within and outside Canada. The research conducted there is both ground-breaking and transformative. A recent independent evaluation concluded that the Perimeter has markedly improved Canada's science capacity and global reputation in the field of theoretical physics. To date, almost 1,700 articles have been published in over 50 journals.
This brings me to the third advantage outlined in the federal science and tech strategy, and that's the entrepreneurial advantage. Fostering an entrepreneurial advantage means translating knowledge into practical and commercially applicable ideas that generate better health outcomes, for example, wealth for Canadians, and, at the end of the day, a better quality of life for all of us.
Now, you might think that theoretical physics is just about something as far from commercial application as you could possibly get, but you would be wrong. Breakthroughs in theoretical physics have the potential for significant commercial applications.
Indeed, past discoveries in theoretical physics lie at the root of many and most of our modern technologies. This includes our computers of today, the BlackBerrys we all wear on our hips, magnetic resonance imaging machines, and many other discoveries. It's very, very clear that Perimeter is making strong contributions to fostering Canada's people, knowledge, and entrepreneurial advantages.
I would also add that the Perimeter Institute is playing a very major role in helping to inspire and educate young Canadians about the importance of science and the possibilities that exist in that field. Its extensive and award-winning outreach programs provide outstanding educational resources for youth and educators. Getting our youth excited about pursuing careers in science and technology is quite crucial to ensuring that Canada has the skilled workforce that tomorrow's economy will demand.
I believe that my remarks at this point have quite amply addressed one of the elements of your study, namely, the Perimeter Institute's positive effect over the past decade on science, technology, and advanced research, not only in Canada but around the world.
While the focus and impact of Perimeter goes far beyond the greater Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge region, the institute has a very strong local impact. The University of Waterloo established the Institute for Quantum Computing shortly after Perimeter opened its doors. Researchers in these two institutes are working closely together in quantum-related research, and that has strong local benefits.
For example, the International Summer School for Young Physicists, held in Waterloo, brings together promising Canadian and international students aged 16 to 18 for two weeks each year. At a time when they are actively weighing career decisions, these young people get a first-hand view of leading-edge research, including lessons in modern physics, mentoring sessions with top scientists from around the world, and of course laboratory tours.
As well, every summer, teachers from across Canada and around the world come to Waterloo to attend the Einstein Plus national teachers' workshop on modern physics. This very intensive one-week residential workshop for high school educators focuses on how to better convey key concepts in modern physics to engage the interests and minds of students.
Our government has been very pleased to support the Perimeter Institute and its activities. This includes the most recent announcement of $50 million over five years of funding provided through Budget 2011. All of the federal funding has been matched by the Government of Ontario and an unprecedented private donation of $120 million from Mike Lazaridis, Jim Balsillie, and Doug Fregin, all operators, as you know, of Research in Motion.
Support also comes from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and has been used to expand the Perimeter's facilities through the construction of the brand-new Stephen Hawking Centre. Perimeter is now the largest theoretical physics research and academic organization in the world, and with that comes a world-class reputation.
Mr. Chair, unfortunately that reputation has been somewhat tarnished by unfounded accusations in an unfortunate and inaccurate news release, which was still found on the NDP's website as of this morning. False claims are made that more funding was given to the Perimeter Institute than was committed by our government in Budget 2007. This is totally false and misleading.
Our government provided the Perimeter Institute with the funding that is consistent with our promises in Budget 2007, and the public accounts records clearly show this. Despite being presented with these facts, the NDP has yet to apologize or remove this inaccurate information from their website.
Mr. Chairman, I sincerely hope the NDP members here today will take a moment to apologize first to the Perimeter Institute, to the scientific community of Canada, and of course to the Comptroller General of Canada and our government so that we can move past this and the Perimeter can maintain its world-class reputation.
The Perimeter Institute is truly something that Canada, the Waterloo region, and the Province of Ontario can be very proud of. It is an essential part of our nation's economy, its economic possibilities, and job opportunities for Canadians going forward.
Thank you very much for this opportunity, colleagues and Mr. Chair. I look forward to any questions you may have.