Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Who's Funding Science Now?

Well, things got nasty quite quickly with Iggy crowned as Liberal leader. But unfortunately for him he's (a) not mindful of history and (b) an outright liar.

Ignatieff claims that science funding has been cut every year since Harper got into power. That is not true, NSERC funding has been increasing each year at the roughly same rate as it was under Martin... until this year. Which is hardly surprising, under Chretien, while they were trying to eliminate the deficit the funding for NSERC in particular decreased for many years.

That's not a criticism of Chretien. That's reality. When governments seek to eliminate a deficit it is understandable that they will seek to cut funding for different programs, and the NSERC budget in fact has ballooned from around $400 million in the mid-1990s to around $1 billion now. That's a 150% increase in less than 15 years. Since Harper took over NSERC's budget has increased from around $860 million to over $1 billion. That's a 17.5% increase over 3 years and it increased in two of the three years that he was Prime Minister.

Moreover, NSERC funding is not the only way of looking at 'support for the sciences'. Other funding councils have similar trend lines (SSHRC) and Harper's funding for research spaces through universities is a badly needed injection especially with the increased costs of construction in recent years and the need to support general infrastructure. All in all, Ignatieff's comments are blatant lies and it is disgraceful that the media has failed to call him out on it.

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