But, but, we’re funding science!

The Conservative government issued a statement not long after the Death of Evidence rally today, which included the following list of items that is supposed to convince us that they are actually pro-science.  But are they in favour of unfettered basic science, or just of using applied science to advance short-term economic interest?  Well, take a look at the list and decide. (Emphasis and comments are mine).

“Economic Action Plan 2012 funding allocated to science, technology and innovation includes:

  • $12 million per year to make the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence program permanent.
  • $6.5 million over three years for a research project at McMaster University to evaluate team-based approaches to health care delivery. [This is not basic research]
  • $17 million over two years to further advance the development of alternatives to existing isotope production technologies.
  • $105 million over two years to support forestry innovation.
  • $37 million annually starting in 2012-13 to the granting councils to enhance their support for industry-academic research partnerships.
  • $60 million for Genome Canada to launch a new applied research competition in the area of human health and to sustain the Science and Technology Innovation Centres until 2014-15.
  • $10 million over two years to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research to link Canadians to global research networks. [This supports research communication infrastructure, it is not funding for research]
  • $500 million over five years, starting in 2014-15, to the Canada Foundation for Innovation to support advanced research infrastructure. [These grants require socioeconomic benefits to be spelled out; see below]
  • $40 million over two years to support CANARIE’s operation of Canada’s ultra-high-speed research network. [This also supports research communication infrastructure]

Not one thing on that list supports basic environmental, biological, or physical sciences research. Meanwhile, grant amounts and success rates are in decline, and competitions for funds are becoming very focused on a small number of applied topics — including oil sands, forestry, and so on.

It’s not even subtle. Here’s a segment of the annual report form that I completed recently for a CFI grant. Notice anything about it?

Click for larger image


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