(a) the House (i) recognize that science and research are of critical importance to all Canadians, including, but not limited to, improving the health of Canadians, improving the environment, driving innovation and economic growth, and improving the quality of life of Canadians, (ii) recognize that science and research are more important than ever, as the economic, environmental and social challenges we face are greater, (iii) affirm its commitment to science, research and evidence-informed decision-making;
(b) effective from the beginning of the 44th Parliament, the Standing Orders be amended as follows:
(i) That Standing Order 104(2) be replaced with the following:
“Membership of standing committees.
(2) The standing committees, which shall consist of 10 members, and for which the lists of members are to be prepared, except as provided in section (1) of this standing order, shall be on:
(a) Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics;
(b) Agriculture and Agri-Food;
(c) Canadian Heritage;
(d) Citizenship and Immigration;
(e) Environment and Sustainable Development;
(g) Fisheries and Oceans;
(h) Foreign Affairs and International Development;
(i) Government Operations and Estimates;
(k) Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;
(l) Indigenous and Northern Affairs;
(m) Industry and Technology;
(n) International Trade;
(o) Justice and Human Rights;
(p) National Defence;
(q) Natural Resources;
(r) Official Languages;
(s) Procedure and House Affairs;
(t) Public Accounts;
(u) Public Safety and National Security;
(v) Science and Research;
(w) the Status of Women;
(x) Transport, Infrastructure and Communities; and
(y) Veterans Affairs.”
(ii) That Standing Order 108(2) be amended by adding after the words “in sections (3)(a), (3)(f), (3)(h)” the following: “, (3)(i)”; and
(iii) That the following subsection be added after Standing Order 108(3)(h):
“Science and Research.
(i) Science and Research shall include, among other matters, the review of and report on all matters relating to science and research, including any reports of the Chief Science Advisor, and any other matter which the House shall, from time to time, refer to the standing committee.”;
(c) the Clerk of the House be authorized to make any required editorial and consequential alterations to the Standing Orders as may be required; and
(d) the Clerk of the House be instructed to print a revised edition of the Standing Orders.
Madam Speaker, science and research matter. Our world-leading scientists and researchers and our outstanding students and research institutions deserve a dedicated voice in Parliament. That means a permanent standing committee on science and research beginning in the 44th Parliament. Not only is this long overdue, but it is critically important to building the future Canadians deserve.
Motion No. 38 seeks to create a standing committee on science and research in the 44th Parliament and parliaments going forward. This really matters because science has never been more important in our country's history.
This has been an unprecedented year for people and the planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives worldwide, and the climate emergency continues with record heat, devastating storms, wildfires and worsening droughts and floods. It is science that will bring the pandemic to an end. It is science and research that will fuel our restart. It is science that will charge our economic recovery. We must turn the recovery from the pandemic into a real opportunity to build a better future, a future driven by knowledge forged by curiosity and a quest for understanding.
To achieve this shared goal, all governments need reliable and solid science. They need strong collaboration with academia and scientific and research institutions to make evidence-based decisions that can tackle the greatest challenges of our time. In 2021, science will remain our most powerful tool in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let me be clear: Science and research have always mattered, and they will matter more than ever beyond the pandemic. Science holds real promise for people, society and our planet. Science impacts each of our lives. We must pay attention to it. That means valuing both the method and the results. We must foster children's natural-born curiosity through elementary school, high school and beyond, and we should inspire children and young people to wonder; to question; to ask why, what if and how; to build; to design; and to invent. They will be the future of science and the future of a society that respects and values the products of science.
Science saves lives through antibiotics, cancer drugs and vaccines, and through improved public health practices, such as masking and physical distancing, to prevent the spread of diseases like COVID-19. Science powers the solutions that make life easier, such as electricity, cars, computers, the Internet and cellphones. It helps us understand the mysteries of our universe, the world around us and our role in it. Science improves education and quality of life, and indeed extends and saves life.
Science and research also matter for their own sake. Research is about discovery, not just about solving human problems and developing new technologies. The reality is that science changes the lives of Canadians.
Canada has tremendous researchers and inspiring students who deserve to be formally heard about being better prepared for a future pandemic, about breakthroughs in science and technology that create powerful new solutions to address climate change, about the long-term health of science and research in our country, about ensuring that the benefits of science are fully shared across Canada and among all Canadians and about the challenges they face as scientists, researchers and students.
We are a country of discoverers, inventors and innovators. We have a long history of scientific achievement, including standard time, insulin, infant pablum, pacemakers, stem cells, canola, Canadarm, double lung transplants and smart phone deep learning, just to name a few Canadian achievements. During the pandemic, our scientists at, for example, the University Health Network in Toronto or at the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization are continuing to do the critical work to protect the health and safety of Canadians. We should all be proud of our researchers' incredible achievements, and their work should be a source of immense national pride.
Although Canada has world-leading researchers and a long history of tremendous scientific accomplishments, the House of Commons lacks a dedicated standing committee on science and research. According to the Library of Parliament, there have been five House of Commons standing committees with either science or research in their titles, and science has been combined with such subject areas as industry and energy, industry and technology, and regional and northern development.
The United Kingdom has a science and technology committee to ensure that government policies and decision-making are based on solid scientific evidence and advice. They are reaping the benefits of this structure and focus. The United States has the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology. In its early years, the committee was an important partner in the Apollo program that led to the first person landing on the moon. It strengthens science, education and research.
Let us think of what it took for astronaut Neil Armstrong to take the first step on the moon in 1969. Katherine Johnson had to calculate rocket trajectories. Engineers had to figure out how to escape earth's gravity. Supercomputers, which filled whole buildings, had to be scaled down. Spacesuits, helmets, gloves and oxygen-supplying backpacks all had to be developed. The lunar module had to be designed and developed. Nothing existed. Everything had to be imagined, designed and built from scratch. These inventions led to brand new sectors in today's economy. That is the transformative power of strong committee-backed science. Let us imagine the benefit to Canada of a strong dedicated committee.
Over the past 50 years, it has been rare for Canada's Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology or its predecessor committees to produce a substantive science report. In fact, a very broad reading of the data shows only 12 substantive reports over the last 54 years. Even in the last Parliament, only two of 27 reports by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, or INDU, were linked to science and research. That is about 7%. The point is that the INDU committee rarely talks about science and research, yet they are so fundamentally important to addressing the pandemic, the climate emergency and our future. We will not create the future we imagine without science having a strong and ever-present voice.
If anyone is wondering why we lag behind other comparator nations in terms of the profile for science, this is surely an important reason. Our Parliament does not have a dedicated mechanism that encourages anyone to focus on science and research. We need to be better stewards of knowledge and the options it gives us.
The point is that science and research have largely been ignored, unexplored and merely tacked on to the House of Commons parliamentary committees in Canada. In fact, there has been no review of federal science funding in Canada for over 40 years until I commissioned the fundamental science review. Can anyone imagine any other sector having such little attention from and oversight by parliamentarians, all while playing such an important role in driving innovation, economic growth and a better quality of life for all Canadians? Science and research, if nurtured wisely, will be central to how we build the future that Canadians deserve.
This lack of oversight over science and research hurts us. If we want Canada to be the scientific and research powerhouse we have the tremendous wealth of talent to be, we need a standing committee focused on the long-term health of science and research in our country. By voting for this motion, we have a chance to acknowledge our responsibility to protect science and research and anchor them in one of our most important democratic institutions.
Science and research should have a permanent place where issues that are important to the research community, Canadians and the future of the country can be studied. There should be a place where scientists, researchers and parliamentarians can come to know one another; where parliamentarians can get a better understanding of science and research; where parliamentarians can learn about Canada's research strengths in such areas as artificial intelligence and deep learning, immunotherapy, nanotech, next generation genomics, personalized medicine, quantum computing and science; where parliamentarians can learn about what is needed to make improvements with real benefits for Canadians. It is time for scientists, researchers and students to be given the key to the people's House.
Imagine if the science and research committee had existed at the start of the pandemic. Parliamentarians could have heard directly from the chief science advisor and departmental chief scientists, or whomever else parliamentarians thought they needed to hear from. They could have heard the best scientific evidence on the virus, the pandemic, protective measures and what was needed to mobilize the scientific and research community. After all, science is our best way through and out of the pandemic.
I should mention that we are all very grateful for the tireless work of government scientists, academic researchers and all those who provided scientific advice to all levels of government.
Science is not a club. It is not for a select few. Science is for everyone. Canadians should have better access to the science and research they fund because science and research provide our best hope for solutions to improving health, addressing the climate crisis, jump-starting economic growth and growing jobs. Canadians—