Thank you, Madam Chair.
I am honoured to be here today and to have the opportunity to speak to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Science and Research.
One cannot overemphasize the importance of your subject: moon shot innovation. Innovation begins with curiosity and moves to creativity, but very simply it means doing things better.
Given the time limits, let me speak in bullet points.
My recommendation is very simply this: Canada's moon shot is to become the Athens to the new Rome.
We will do so by practising what I call the “diplomacy of knowledge”, engaging with the world through international education and research, with students and researchers coming here from abroad and our students and researchers travelling and engaging abroad. We will be global citizens, and our research power enhanced through international collaboration.
I've left with you three documents.
The first is my address in Vancouver on February 16, 2012, to the American Association for the Advancement of Science on the diplomacy of knowledge. The second comes from a chapter in my book The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation. This was a letter to His Highness the Aga Khan on the importance of pluralism and practising the diplomacy of knowledge. The third is “Canada's International Education Strategy (2014-2019)”, prepared for the then international trade minister by a task force chaired by Dr. Amit Chakma, then president of Western University. I recommend that you review this remarkable report—updated—and craft a renewed strategy for the next decade.
In the interest of time, of these three documents I will simply state five propositions that come from my address to the AAAS.
First, in our modern globalized world, the well-being of nations will be defined more than anything else by how well they develop and advance knowledge. Second, the opportunity to share information has never been so ubiquitous and so cheap. Third, communication is so fast and easy—thus so we change. Fourth, ideas are improved when shared and tested through action. Fifth, we must promote independent practices that have served us well, but we must also broaden what and how we learn.
Now let me move to some opinions under four themes on benefits.
Theme one is the benefit of international students recruited to Canada.
First, they pay international tuition fees and spend money while here and support high-quality jobs quite enormously. Second, they comprise Canada's seventh-largest export sector, while in Australia it's the third-largest export sector. We should aspire to make it Canada's largest export sector.
Third, they provide highly skilled labour as teaching and research assistants and are our most desirable source to become permanent residents. One hundred per cent of Canada's population growth comes from immigrants, which we need to support our aging population, and their children outpace young “already here” Canadians in educational and entrepreneurial attainment.
Last, climate change and population dislocation pressures over the next several decades will force more emigration and thus more immigration to this country. Canada, with the world's second-largest land mass and 20% of the world's freshwater resources, will face significant international pressure to significantly increase its current population of 38 million.
Theme two on benefits is about Canadian students being abroad for study, research work or volunteering.
First, they become global citizens with a much broader perspective. From my observation of my five daughters, who began international exchanges as teenagers, that experience is transformative. They become more curious, tolerant, judicious, empathetic, self-reliant, creative and resilient. Seen through broader understanding and their new entrepreneurship, they promote Canadian cultural values and Canadian business abroad.
Second, together with international students here, they promote the intercultural harmony we see in our domestic public education system, where young people from different cultural backgrounds are educated together. As a nation, we can project this Canadian experience onto the world stage as peaceful, collaborative pluralism.
Theme three is on trade investment benefits. International students returning home and Canadians abroad become our best ambassadors and unpaid trade commissioners. The people-to-people contacts and friendships allow Canada to tap into a much broader talent pool. They encourage all Canadians to develop broader, more inclusive views.
Finally, there are the research enhancement benefits.
Research and development are built on enhanced talent pools. International education is a splendid foundation. From this base, collaborative partnerships are created and expanded institution by institution, collaborative alignment by alignment and country by country across the globe.
Canada is already a collaborative choice. We have less than 2% of the world's population and over 4% of the peer-reviewed STEM articles in the leading scientific journals. More than half of those articles have international co-authors. This expanding base of collaborative talent helps Canada significantly in contributing to and drawing from the research strengths of the U.S.A., with which our bilateral partnership is already the most beneficial in the world. Our ability to bring in other international partners helps to equalize Canada's contribution.