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Lobbying the federal Government.

A report on The Chemical Institute of Canada, Canadian Society for Chemistry Canadian Association of Physicists, and the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies October 1999 joint lobby effort.

Over the past summer and early fall, The Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) actively worked with the Canadian Consortium for Research (CCR) to develop the submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, the document which forms the basis of the CIC's lobbying activities each fall. The report, which was submitted to the Committee at the end of September, emphasized the following three areas that either need to be redressed or enhanced: core funding of universities, funding for the granting councils, and government science/national facilities. Each member organization of the CCR was free to use this document as the basis of their lobbying activities and speak to the priorities of their community within the context of these broader priorities.

On October 13 and 14, the CIC and Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) joined forces with the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) and the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies (CFBS) to mount a tri-society lobbying effort. The CIC and CSC were represented by Cordon Thomson, FCIC (CIC chair); Judith Poe MCIC (CSC president); and Roland Andersson, MCIC (CIC executive director).

The CIC/CSC organized the lobbying session meetings and succeeded in securing a total of 14, two of them with federal government cabinet ministers. The meetings were with:

Politicians:

* Maurizio Bevilacqua, chair, Finance Committee

* Peter Adams, chair, Liberal Caucus for PSE and Research

* Herb Gray, Deputy Prime Minister

* Gilbert Normand, Secretary of State for Science and Technology

Bureaucrats:

* Peter Simeoni, principal, Auditor General of Canada

* David Watters, assistant deputy minister, Finance

* Claude Dauphin, senior policy advisor for Minister of Finance

* Graham Campbell, director, Energy Sector, NR Can

* Elaine Hood, senior policy advisor, Industry Canada

* Sophie Cormier, political advisor to Minister Boudria

* Marie Tobin, director general, Industry Canada

Media:

* John Robson, deputy editorial pages, The Ottawa Citizen

* Peter Calamai, Toronto Star

Other:

* Arthur Carty, FCIC, president of NRC

While the timing of the Throne Speech and the Prime Minister's Response to the Throne resulted in the postponement of the meeting scheduled with Tony Valeri (former parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance), the lobbying teams certainly benefited from the opportunity to offer thanks for the proposed funding for research included in each of these speeches. It is quite clear that this government is committed to continue it support of research to the extent that it is able to. In particular, Prime Minister Chretien's response to the Speech from the Throne on October 13, 1999 included the following statement (emphasis added):

"... The heads of the Granting Councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, working with some university presidents, in particular the rector of the Universite de Montreal, Robert Lacroix, and the president of the University of British Columbia, Martha Piper, have come to the government with an exciting and ambitious proposal. To build on existing partnerships between our universities, the Granting Councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. To brand Canada around the world as the place to be for knowledge creation as we enter the 21st century. To enable Canadian universities to create outstanding research opportunities for the best and the brightest Canadians. To make Canada place where Canadian students and Canadian graduates want to be. To attract the 'global research stars of today' and the 'future research stars of tomorrow'. To attract to Canada some of the world's best minds from other countries. To create an environment to produce Canadian Nobel Prize winners in the future. A plan for br ain gain not brain drain.

They have proposed a plan, Mr. Speaker, to establish, over the next three years, 1,200 new 21st century Chairs for Research Excellence in universities across Canada. To provide ENOUGH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE TOTAL COSTS OF RESEARCH FOR EACH NEW RESEARCH CHAIR to make them internationally competitive. And to set as an objective reaching a total of 2,000 new Chairs for Research Excellence across Canada as soon as possible thereafter. A plan I welcome. A plan for excellence and international competitiveness which this government endorses enthusiastically. We will provide the required funding to the Granting Councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation..."

The background material on the 21st Century Chairs for Research Excellence, which was provided to us during these meetings, reads:

"... this program has been designed so that all universities will be able to participate. For universities receiving research funding from the three granting councils, the proportion of chairs for which they will be eligible to compete will approximate the share of national research funding received. For universities that have in the past received little or no research funding, a baseline allocation will be available.

To receive the funding for which they are eligible, universities will submit proposals to a competitive peer review process administered by the three granting councils. Chairs will be funded for between five and seven years and will be renewable, again through the competitive process."

Thus, the teams took the opportunity during these meetings to thank the government for this exciting new program and then to speak to the priorities within the CCR document, with emphasis placed on our particular concerns.

We raised the issue of how the severe cuts in provincial funding for universities have had a profound impact on the effectiveness of the federal government's investment in research, since the university infrastructure underlying the research is eroding. Given the jurisdictional issues surrounding this particular issue, no attempt was made to encourage any particular method by which this issue can be addressed. The urgency of this issue was stressed.

The CAP representatives, which included Marie D'Iorio (president), Cordon Drake (vice-president), Eric Svensson (director of international affairs), Don McDiarmid (science policy consultant), and Francine Ford (science policy officer), focused primarily on the issue of government science and, in particular, the need for stable and appropriate funding for government laboratories, the renewal of funding for TRIUMF and the approval of the Canadian Neutron Facility (CNF).

The teams came away encouraged by the level of support and understanding for research that appears to exist within most of these groups. It is, however, clear that the decision on the CNF is closely linked to the future plans of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). Since the AECL portion of the CNF is within the control of NRCan, we were encouraged to write letters to Minister Goodale, with copies to the Prime Minister, Minister Martin, and Secretary of State Gilbert Normand, expressing concern over the delay in the decision and outlining the reasons why the research community views this as an important research program. The presidents of the CSC and CAP agreed to write a joint letter. Anyone who supports this program should consider sending a note, phoning their local Member of Parliament, or doing both to get their "vote" registered.

Future Lobbying Activities

The CIC/Constituent Societies continue to be a very active participant on the CCR group and has a seat on the Steering Committee, which develops the strategic lobbying plans. As we wait for the expected February budget by the federal government, the CCR is already in the planning stages for the 2000 effort to communicate the importance of research and development for the well being of society. To help the CIC/Constituent Societies understand the position of research chemists, chemical engineers, and chemical technologists, I encourage you to E-mail me directly at randersson@cheminst.ca or any of the Board members with your comments and thoughts.

Roland Andersson, MCIC is the executive director of The Chemical Institute of Canada and the executive secretary of each of the Constituent Societies. He graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 1976 with a four-year BSc in chemistry. He has over 20 years of management experience in the chemical field acquired through responsibilities in research and development, operations, marketing, and administration, in both chemical manufacturing companies and non-profit organizations.
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Author:Andersson, Roland
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Feb 1, 2000
Words:1327
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