Canucks and Science..... (was Canadian Cousins Honesty about Science)
dellaire at ODYSSEE.NET
Wed Jun 12 08:04:26 EST 1996
I know I am quite, quite late on this thread... as it seems to have
mutated into something else but I would like to add my two bits.
As a current graduate student here at McGill University in Montreal ,
Quebec (yes it is STILL part of Canada) and having done my B.Sc.Hon at
the University of British Columbia I have seen how science functions
here on both coasts. In general funding like all monies in Canada goes
basically by population when you look at totals per province.
Accordingly smaller provinces farther from center (i.e. BC, Alberta,
Nova Scotia etc) get less money and the center gets the lions share
(Quebec and Ontario). Hence one reason I am in the east now is that it
is much easier to find labs with funding in Toronto or Montreal than
back in Vancouver, B.C..
I wanted to stay in Canada for my Ph.D. to pick up the ethic of Canadian
science. We do not have an exclusive on fair play but I think many
Canadian Scientists feel a kinship in dealing with large funding
agencies like MRC and NSERC as well as the fight for recognition in the
shadow of the USA. This kinship can breed great science when resources
and knowhow are diseminated from lab to lab. Here in Montreal in
particular, being not only Canadian but also Quebecers there is an even
stronger push for open collaboration and sharing. The US against THEM
attitude in a benign way.
Montreal is one of the few cities in Canada with 4 major Universities in
the local area (U of Montreal, University du Quebec a Montreal, McGill,
and Concordia, not to mention Sherbrooke and Laval University only an
hour or two away). Perhaps because of the proximity of so many
universities, Montreal is one of the few cities where a scientist can
find his/her spouse a job in research very easily. On more than one
occasion I have seen a post-doc find his wife a position within months
of arriving, people actively set out to find a position for you.
Being much closer to Britain than the USA... we only repatriated our
constitution in 1980, I think this has an effect on science an how it is
carried out. For many years Great Britain has done the most with the
least. Where as in the USA the trend has been to do the least with the
most resources. We also have much influence from French Science as
there is an open system for training postdocs and graduates between
Quebec and France. I think the european influence is very strong in
shaping our character and could provide one reason we "appear" to carry
science out a little differently than our neighbors to the south.
Lastly, with all the cuts to funding and lack of positions here in
Canada (especially for aerospace, engineering and physics) the United
States will ultimately end up benefiting from our countries investment
(what little is left) in science. Most researchers will end up looking
south for jobs... particulary in their most productive years (late 20's
to mid 30's). Perhaps if enough Canadians move south our influence will
be felt and the one sided cultural exchange, as it exists now, will be
reversed for just a little while.
Dept. of Medicine
Div. of Exp. Medicine
dellaire at odyssee.net
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