On 26 October, thirty-eight masked faces, eager to deliver their government’s platform to Canadians became our new Federal Cabinet. Some faces are returning to their portfolios, some are shuffling to new seats, and others are brand new to government and have already landed a cabinet role.
Of the 38 cabinet members, six ministerial bios confirm backgrounds in what we can call ‘science and innovation friendly’ studies, such as mechanical engineering, nursing, and medicine. Another 12-15 ministerial bios demonstrate strong ties to local communities, where many have invested their time and talents to make their communities better, safer, healthier. May the scientists and the community-minded find each other in cabinet, and find ways to work together and pool their knowledge and their passions for the betterment of Canada.
Science and communities – or society – require each other. In Canada our scientific enterprise – the elaborate system designed to fund, review, and conduct science – is based on a strong relationship with society. One where society – through government – agrees to fund science for the benefits to health, wellbeing and the economy that may result. In exchange, science has been provided a great deal of autonomy. The blueprint for this enterprise dates back to the end of the Second World War when science had been successfully mobilized during the war and had also yielded some significant medical advances.
Fast forward 75 years and the relationship between science and society is strained. The blueprint is outdated; it doesn’t include considerations for international collaboration, or promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in science. Nor does it count on a mass rejection of science by large tracts of society. By all accounts the relationship is under strain.
At the IOG we have launched a collaborative research initiative, Government Science and Innovation in the New Normal that is examining eight facets of this blueprint that desperately need updating:
Science needs to innovate not just for society, but with society. For more information about this research initiative, please visit our web page.
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