A science academy

Currently we lack a science academy, something so beneficial for economic progress. Canada has nothing like that now, but if we hope to compete internationally, we should have some kind of a major research centre.

By any standard of comparison, Canada is spending less on research than the other leading nations; that means we are not creating wealth as fast as we might.

According to recent data we spend only about two per cent of what the U.S. allocates to research and development, and we graduate only a fraction of as many PhDs. To compound our deficiencies, many of our best trained in science and technology emigrate, thereby we are losing some of our most creative and energetic talent as it seeks opportunities elsewhere.

Science and technology are becoming ever more powerful factors in industry, that to an important extent make possible the development of new methods and products. Too, industry increasingly administers its own laboratories where scientific discoveries may be applied for commercial purposes, particularly for a company’s own business.

An industrialist must have considerable know-how to realize in practical terms how scientific developments can be utilized. Then it can determine the feasibility of using venture capital.

The opportunities for discovering new industrial frontiers are expanding enormously. Technology can multiply productivity, and also can provide workers with satisfaction with their work and add to their effectiveness.

For the past several decades the National Research Council has donated millions of dollars in grants to universities for organized research on a national basis. The purpose was to increase the utilization of technical methods and processes in Canadian industry. That is a good first step.

In 1966, the federal government created the Science Council of Canada to advise the government of scientific and technological policy.  Unfortunately, that body was abolished in 1993.

What is needed is to form a Canadian Academy of Science, somewhat like the service academies that supply our armed forces. It would follow in part Australia’s comparable organization. Its similar objectives would be to recognize the out­standing contribution of science, advance scientific education, enhance public awareness of the importance of science, advise about science policy, and, uniquely, work with every level of our educational institutions to help train more engineers and scientists. The Carnegie Mellon University has a School of Computer Technology, and we should emulate that to increase the number of our scientific specialists.

All that could do wonders for our economic well-being.



Bruce Whitestone