Dr.Dawg

NRC: a market driver at the wheel

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The new National Research Council president, a Harper-appointed Calgary businessman, is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He doesn’t want airy-fairy theory being tested at his labs. He wants stuff that will sell:

NRC president John McDougall has announced to all staff that he wants research that is “successfully deployed and used to benefit our customers and partners in industry and government.”

One can imagine him telling Einstein to forget that “curved space” malarkey—the customers want an A-bomb.

The new system, with most funding awarded by top management, will put existing staff in a position of having to apply to their employer to keep doing their own work. So far, they aren’t faring well: McDougall notes that his scientists have suggested more than 70 research areas. But most of these have no clear “market driver” or “purposeful direction,” he writes.

…Some NRC scientists fear for their jobs as a result. And their fears echo those of federal scientists in other departments whose work has been politically directed and who are forbidden to discuss their findings by the Harper government.

McDougall leaves no doubt as to who’s boss: his memorandum to all staff claims that senior management is for the most part on board, “rallying behind the new agenda. Those who are still hesitant will need our help to develop their courage and conviction.”

Meanwhile, DawgNews has been informed that Calgary-based oilpatch millionaire Jud Tanner has just been appointed to head up the National Gallery of Canada. Long a critic of “people putting stuff on canvas for other folks who put stuff on canvas,” Tanner wants the Gallery to have a wider appeal.

“Millions for a stripe and millions more for a giant spider? Let’s cut the budget and give the customers what they want,” he said. As a first step in a new direction, Tanner is offering a painting from his private collection: “it won’t cost the taxpayers one red cent.”

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Reading from a prepared statement, Tanner declared: “History is an anchor that ties us to the past rather than a sail that catches the wind to power us forward. Our job is to produce that wind.”

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This page contains a single entry by Dr.Dawg published on March 21, 2011 11:40 AM.

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