Funding science and research: Harper vs Obama

Canadian gov’t cuts $148 million in research funds, U.S. spends multi-billions

The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson reviews the stark contrast between the Harper government’s cuts to basic research funding and the Obama administration’s multibillion-dollar commitments to scientific research and education:

The Obama administration’s multibillion-dollar investments coincide with the Canadian government’s decision to cut $148-million in funding to the three agencies that support basic research at Canadian universities.

The Conservatives point in response to $2.75-billion they have dedicated to university infrastructure and scientific equipment.

But the two countries are pursuing fundamentally different approaches to funding research in the midst of a recession and with manufacturing industries in chronic decline.

While Prime Minister Harper concentrates on targeted funding in certain specific areas, in hopes of generating marketable ideas that promote economic growth, President Obama is pursing a comprehensive approach aimed at fundamentally reorienting government, schools, universities and the private sector in favour of science and technology.