The Toronto Star published a well-written commentary by a number of scientists a few days ago lamenting Greg Rickford’s appointment as Minister of State for Science and Technology. Go give it a read if you have a few moments- I think it raises some genuine concerns regarding how Rickford will handle the file given his recent flip-flop track record with the Experimental Lakes Area (see how one man goes from this viewpoint, to this, in just one budget announcement).
Similar concerns regarding Rickford’s ability to function well as a minister of this file have been voiced by MPs in adjacent ridings, and there’s a great blogpost by Alison at Creekside that takes a good look at Rickford’s track record not just with ELA but with his most recent portfolio in Aboriginal and Northern Affairs. Even Nature blogged about it.
With the move, the FEDNOR file also moves to Rickford. FEDNOR is a pot of federal money used for economic development in Northern Ontario communities, and like many programs were subject to significant cuts. Previously, the file was with Tony Clement, who was criticized for having let the FEDNOR file take a backseat to his Treasury Board responsibilities. Interestingly, in a recent CBC interview with Clement, he opened the door to the possibility of FEDNOR dollars being used to help support ELA in the future (listen to the interview here). One wonders whether Rickford will be as inviting to the idea.
By putting Rickford in charge of the Science and Technology file, given his past performance of sticking to the party newspeak at all costs, one can only assume that this will not result in a thawing of relations between the current government and it’s resident scientists.