Nice labs, empty heads

Building research labs is great if you're doing research. It's sort of useless if you're not. Canada is doing a lot less research these days.

Building research labs is great if you’re doing research.

It’s sort of useless if you’re not.

Canada is doing a lot less research these days.

Our scientists were leading an international stem cell research project.

As of last week, it no longer is.

In January, the nonprofit, nongovernment organization that finances many groundbreaking science projects was shut out of the budget.

It was funding Canada’s contribution to the stem cell project.

It is controversial science among Christian fanatics, who question the morality of using the pinprick-sized, week-old human embryos for research.

By cutting the flow of money, Ottawa has essentially pulled Canada out of the project.

“It does not look good,” Frank Grosveld, a researcher at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, told the Globe and Mail’s Anne McIlroy last week.

It’s a blow to Canada’s international reputation; it will cost the nation its leadership role in the project and may cost the nation any future commercialization of the discoveries.

It is those breakthroughs that will fuel future economies.

Instead, Canada appears to be putting its faith in faith.

In its stimulus budget, Ottawa is pumping lots of money into noncontroversial scientific labs - buying beakers, bunson burners and those high stools scientists like to slide up to their melamine counters.

But it’s dramatically severing support for the science that goes on in those refurbished labs.

It’s clever, really.

During the next election, politicians will argue, convincingly, that they have increased support for science.

But they have done so at the expense of primary research, and controversial science in particular.

Of course, it’s often the controversial science that sparks the biggest breakthroughs—in fighting cancer and muscular sclerosis and spinal injuries.

The government’s approach is a lot like building theatres, and then cutting grants to the scriptwriters, actors and theatre companies that use the facilities.

It puts a lot of contractors to work in the short term, and creates a lot of expensive, empty facilities in the future.

In short, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Ottawa should amend its budget to better balance research funding and the creation of new scientific facilities.

If it acts quickly, it might preserve Canada’s leadership position on stem cell research.

Such investigation holds many benefits for Canada beyond mere prestige.

It promises to improve our health, and heal our sick economy. (Richard Mostyn)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read