The 2015 Federal Platforms: what they say about Canadian science and research
These are the rough notes I made of references to science and research in each 2015 federal election platform document.
The Conservative platform
Interestingly, the Conservatives mention research more than any other platform. They mention science nearly as much the Liberals.
Most of the Conservative policies related to science and research regard innovation and industry-focused work. There are three exceptions. The Conservative platform also pledges to:
- Fund “cutting edge” health research, specifically committing to give another $100 million to the Canada Brain Research Fund.
- Research the root causes of terrorism by renewing funding for the Kanishka Project (despite Stephen Harper’s earlier criticism this line of inquiry)
- Commits to continue funding the grant councils which support university research in Canada (i.e. NSERC, SSHRC, and CIHR).
Conservative platform mentions of research and science:
- P26, Manufacturing strategy: Making strategic investments to encourage research and development and the creation of new products and technologies.
- P27: significant investments in science and technology to make Canada a world leader in new manufacturing technologies.
- P35-37, “A re-elected Conservative Government will continue to help Canadian businesses adopt advanced technologies and carry out research and development”
- “Continuing our participation in the International Space Station which will mean new opportunities for Canada’s space industry, and expanding support for Canada’s satellite telecommunications sector through its partnership with the European Space Agency.
- …by spending $300 million to support auto industry and advanced manufacturing in Ontario
- Providing ongoing support to the National Research Council’s transformation to better serve the research and development needs of Canadian businesses. This includes ongoing support for the Industrial Research Assistance Program which is helping small- and medium-sized businesses finance research initiatives.
- Expanding our support for the National Optics Institute in Quebec City, to continue its leadership in business-oriented optic and photonic research.”
- Implementing the $1.5 billion Canada First Research Excellence Fund to support world- leading research projects that create long- term economic advantage for Canada.
- Continuing to support the Canadian Foundation for Innovation to finance research infrastructure on university, college, and polytechnic campuses. We’ll provide $1.33 billion over six years, starting in 2017-18, to support the Foundation’s ongoing work.
- P39, Will continue to have Tri-Councils: “Investing in ongoing support for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. “
- P38, “innovation and crop science.”
- P41, Promoting Canada’s fisheries: “A re-elected Conservative Government will continue to build on these initiatives with a focus on science, marine conservation, and promoting Canadian products in new markets including through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. ”
- P42, A re-elected Conservative Government will also work in collaboration with the provinces and the University of Prince Edward Island’s AVC Lobster Science Centre to pursue biomass research, gaining valuable information that will inform policy decisions affecting the lobster fishery for years to come.
- We’ll also support the Atlantic salmon fishery by confronting Greenland on the issue of overfishing Canada’s Atlantic salmon stock and increasing the harvest of striped bass to improve the survival of juvenile Atlantic salmon, following receipt of an upcoming Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientific study.
- P45, We’ll continue to encourage the growth and modernization of the industry through the Forest Innovation Program, which supports research and development.
- And we’ll continue investing in the Forest Industry Transportation Program, which supports the development of new technologies that make our forestry industry more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
- P47, mineral exploration: “build on our current plan to support Canada’s mining sector.
- A re-elected Conservative Government will continue to support jobs and growth in the mining industry by following through on our plan to invest further in the Targeted Geoscience Initiative, to promote increased mineral exploration by the private sector. “
- P79: research into root causes of terrorism: “A re-elected Conservative Government will continue to address the growing problem of terrorist radicalization and violent extremism among Canadian youth by renewing funding for the Kanishka Project for another five years.”
- P121, “fund cutting-edge health research”
- Supporting critical research on health issues that touch all Canadians such as cancer and diseases that affect the brain.
- P135: funding further research into how palliative care is best provided to Canadians.
- P135, “renewing the Canada Brain Research Fund when it expires in 2017, with another $100 million over seven years.
- P137, Cancer research: match contributions to Terry Fox Foundation up to $35 million and “provide capital funding to help establish the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Centre
- P147, climate change:
- Opposed to carbon tax
- “continue to balance what’s best for our climate with the needs of our economy”
- “support for companies and researchers to develop new, cleaner technologies. And our low-tax, balanced budget plan to strengthen and grow Canada’s economy will create the conditions for this type of cutting-edge innovation.
The NDP platform
The NDP platform mentions science and research the fewest times of all major party platforms. However, they propose significant enhancements to the funding and use of science.
The NDP platform document mentions science only twice (research six times): (the least of all platforms) once showing business investment in research is falling and again in the proposal to create a Parliamentary Science Officer.
Mentions of science and research:
p.3 Health Care: “Increasing grants for community-based research and other community- based programming, so that local health care innovation can keep Canadian families healthier.”
p.14 Jobs and Infrastructure: shows that business R&D spending (% of GDP) has fallen steadily since 2001, illustrating that despite the Conservatives’ talk about investing in innovation and industrial research, little progress has been made.
p.15-16, Promoting Investment in the Manufacturing Sector and Innovation:
Supporting a culture of innovation among Canada’s leading businesses.
- “create a new Aerospace Advanced Manufacturing Fund for small and medium-sized aerospace companies to help companies adopt new technologies, and scale-up production to compete globally.”
- “foster innovation in the auto sector”
- “a new Innovation Tax Credit to support companies that invest in capital, equipment and property for R&D,
- make it easier for businesses to access government support for innovation, talent and R&D”
p.17, “After years of Conservative neglect, we will invest in the Canadian Space Agency’s Space Technology Development Program to help Canadian space companies commercialize new technologies.”
p.17, “extend the Mining Exploration Tax Credit and support forestry, manufacturing, innovation”
p.33 “Enhance the mandate of Status of Women Canada.
The NDP will give the agency a strong mandate to advance women’s and girl’s equality in Canada while ensuring funding for women’s organizations includes advocacy work and independent research in line with Canada’s international obligations.”
p.54 “Issuing a government-wide open data directive to make government data sets easy to find, accessible and usable for Canadians by default to strengthen our democracy, improve the efficiency of services to the public and contribute to economic growth.”
p.56: “Establishing the Office of the Parliamentary Science Officer to ensure that parliamentarians have the best possible access to science-based analysis.”
p.57 “Putting Evidence First
While principled leaders approach a situation with fact-based decision-making, Stephen Harper does the opposite: decision-based fact-making.
The NDP will respect the public service and the independence of scientists and officers of Parliament by:
- Creating a Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister to ensure that our government always has access to the best possible scientific advice from experts in all fields.
- restore the long-form census
- Reverse the Conservatives’ policy of muzzling scientists, ensuring that Canada’s leading experts are freely available to speak to the media and to publish their findings.
- Ending the toxic culture of fear that has emerged in the civil service
p.71 “Increase Grants Council Funding”
The Liberal platform
The Liberal platform has a section dedicated to “Evidence-based policy” in its Fair and Open Government chapter detailing how they would use science and research to inform government decisions. Similarly, the NDP have a smaller sub-section for “Putting Evidence First”.
The Liberals gain credibility on science and research over the NDP because they make broader and more detailed proposals.
Mentions of science & research:
p.6 “We will invest $40 million each year to help employers create more co-op placements for students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and business programs.”
p.15-16 Jobs and Innovation,
- “invest $200 million each year in a new Innovation Agenda to significantly expand support for incubators and accelerators, as well as the emerging national network for business innovation and cluster support; and
- invest an additional $100 million each year in the Industrial Research Assistance Program, which has a proven track record of helping small- and medium-sized businesses to innovate and become world leaders. ”
p.16 “we will invest an additional $100 million, over four years, in agricultural research”
“invest an additional $80 million… in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency”
p.17 “Changes to labour laws should be based on evidence, not ideology, and made after legitimate consultation with unions.”
p.24 “Government data and information should be open by default, in formats that are modern and easy to use. We will update the Access to Information Act to meet this standard.”
p.25, Open Data, “We will embrace open data. We will accelerate and expand open data initiatives, and will make government data available digitally, so that Canadians can easily access and use it.”
p.32, “We will ensure that Parliamentary committees are properly resourced to bring in expert witnesses, and are sufficiently staffed to continue to provide reliable, non-partisan research.”
p.36, Evidence-Based Policy.
- “Government should base its policies on facts, not make up facts to suit a preferred policy. Common sense, good policy, and evidence about what works should guide the decisions that government makes.
- We will value science and treat scientists with respect.
- We will appoint a Chief Science Officer who will ensure that government science is fully available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that scientific analyses are considered when the government makes decisions.
- We will restore the long-form census.
- We will make Statistics Canada fully independent.
- We will work with Statistics Canada and other stakeholders to provide a broader range of information, including detailed labour market information, child development data, and statistics about our population.
- We will make decisions using the best data available
- Responsible governments rely on sound data to make their decisions. We will release to the public key information that informs the decisions we make.
- We will devote a fixed percentage of program funds to experimenting with new approaches to existing problems. We will measure our results and encourage innovation to continuously improve the services government provides to Canadians.
p.40 Environment. “We will invest $100 million more each year in clean technology producers…
We will deliver more support to emerging clean tech manufacturing companies, making it easier for them to conduct research and bring new products to market.
We will also invest $200 million more each year to support innovation and the use of clean technologies in our natural resource sectors, including the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and agricultural sectors.”
p.41 “leading trade missions focused on clean technology.”
p.41 “To foster the creativity that leads to cutting-edge research, we will establish Canada Research Chairs in sustainable technology.”
p.43 “to aid in making the best possible decisions, we will restore $1.5 million in annual federal funding for freshwater research – a program that was cut by the Conservatives – and make new investments in Canada’s world-leading IISD Experimental Lakes Area. ”
We will … increase the amount of Canada’s marine and coastal areas that are protected…. we will invest $8 million per year in community consultation and science.”
We will also directly invest in ocean science. Stephen Harper cut $40 million from the federal ocean science and monitoring programs. We will restore that funding so that we can protect the health of our fish stocks, monitor contaminants and pollution in our oceans, and support responsible and sustainable aquaculture industries on our coasts.
We will use scientific evidence and the precautionary principle, and take into account climate change, when making decisions affecting fish stocks and ecosystem management.