Volume 93, Issue 87

Wednesday, March 15, 2000


Tuition capped for five years

USC budget predicting surplus

Teachers' association rallies in opposition of federal report

Future of endorsements faces council meeting

VP hopefuls stand up to the mic

New program to reward excellence

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Teachers' association rallies in opposition of federal report

By Tola Afolabi
Gazette Staff

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has come out as staunch opponents to a report which they claim promotes the commercialization of university research.

On Monday, the CAUT delivered a letter to the Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's office with 1,500 signatures from academics and researchers across the country, said David Robinson, director of policy with CAUT. "We're committed that university research remain independent."

The report, commissioned by the Prime Minister's Advisory Council on Science and Technology, is currently being reviewed by the Prime Minister's office, Robinson said.

If the report's recommendations became reality, universities would be given money to set up offices of commercialization, Robinson said. "The huge bureaucracy would wield the heavy stick over researchers," he said.

"[They want] staff that help promote the private sector," said James Turk, executive director of the CAUT, who explained the association was opposed to many of the recommendations made in the report.

"The report is overwhelmingly biased towards industry needs," Robinson explained, adding 10 of the panel's 12 members were from private industry.

However, Western's VP-research, Bill Bridger, said he believed Robinson's organization was overreacting. "The CAUT is being advised by people who don't have a clue," he said. "It's a kneeĐjerk reaction."

The public deserves to reap the benefits from discoveries made by scientists, Bridger said. "In the course of basic research, when things are discovered, wouldn't it be a shame if the people of Canada couldn't realize some benefits to that?"

Tim Nau, communications director of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, said the panel tried to represent all groups and remain objective by presenting the report to scientists around the country. "This is taxpayer's money. We have to make sure this is in no way political," Nau said.

Canadian universities lacked rules governing new discoveries, which often led to ideas being stolen by the United States, Nau said. "Any research which is going to be commercialized should be commercialized in the way that benefits Canada," he said.

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