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We need a stronger lobby.

Competitiveness, prosperity, inventiveness, innovation, sustainable development, research, technology . . . no funding. This could be a paraphrase from any government speech across Canada today. Everyone is pointing to the things that we need to do in order to make Canada competitive and improve our standard of living: increase R&D to 2.5% of GDP; increase the university/industry/government joint researching network and start focusing the research effort. Well, it's pretty easy to focus the effort when $65 million in grant money is cut by the federal government.

Focusing may not be the right word; pinpointing the effort may be closer to the mark. Then, there is the further $775 million for transfer payments to the provinces for post-secondary education that was slashed in 1992. So, even if industry wanted to team up with government or universities to do research (basic or applied), there is no money, no incentive, and as the university funding approaches zero, there will be no trained people to carry out the work.

Meanwhile, chemical professionals across the country sit largely on their laurels while these decisions are being made. How can we influence these decisions? How can we collaborate with other scientific societies to effect change? Who wants to help?

Other interest groups hire high-priced lobbyists to do their "dirty work". Some form collaborative efforts with other communities; the National Consortium is the scientific community's attempt at this. However, as the number of organizations involved increases, the items of interest that you can agree upon become fewer and more diluted.

Perhaps an alternative is to hire ourselves a full-time chemical professional with a lobbyist-type personality/background to plug our voice into the decision-making authorities across the country. This is definitely a concrete added value for our members, who don't really have a lot of time to spend lobbying. For $15 per member at our current level, this could be a reality. Besides giving us a stronger voice, perhaps this type of action could move more people to join the CIC.

In addition, I think each member needs to contribute at his or her personal level. Maybe there is only one issue that you really care about. Writing a letter, or visiting your local MP, or schoolboard, or initiating a petition may seem ineffective, but this is the way change is made and interest in the issue can snowball if enough individuals take action.

Finally, we need to know what issues are "coming down the pipe" in order to prepare a strategy. This involves each person in his or her own technology sphere contacting the Science Policy Committee, CIC, or National Office, when a concern arises, indicating what the issue is and who is making the decision. Only a cohesive two-way communication between members and those serving the members will bring about the kind of effectiveness desired.
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Title Annotation:chemical professionals
Author:Gladu, Marilyn
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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