Canadian Nobel Prize-winning physicist encouraged by Ottawa’s scientific mandate

The federal Liberal government's promise to embrace science and innovation is promising to a Canadian scientist who was recently awarded the Nobel Prize.

HALIFAX — The federal Liberal government’s promise to embrace science and innovation is promising to a Canadian scientist who was recently awarded the Nobel Prize.

Arthur McDonald, who was the co-winner in physics for his work on tiny particles known as neutrinos, said Monday he’s pleased with Ottawa’s commitment to public policies based on evidence, not politics.

“I’m actually very encouraged by what I see of the mandate of our new science minister, Kirsty Duncan,” McDonald said in an interview at Dalhousie University in Halifax, where the alumnus was expected to deliver a public lecture on his prize-winning research.

“Having this openness in the government itself and encouragement for evidence-based decision-making … I see a lot of good things in the way in which this government is putting science and innovation forward.”

McDonald and Japanese scientist Takaaki Kajita were cited for the discovery of neutrino oscillations and their contributions to experiments showing that neutrinos change identities.

They determined that neutrinos have mass, which fundamentally changed the understanding of the laws of physics.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to restore the government’s relationship with the scientific community, which was strained under Conservative predecessor Stephen Harper.

Duncan, who McDonald said attended the awarding of his Nobel Prize last December in Stockholm, was appointed by Trudeau to create a chief science officer and ensure that government science is publicly available. She is also mandated to guarantee that government scientists can speak freely about their work and their analyses are considered in decision-making.

McDonald, a professor emeritus at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., said while Canada has done very well in basic and applied science, the country needs to translate that success into Canadian companies doing more work on home soil.

He said that includes encouraging graduates to start businesses at home.

“You also have to have situations where Canadian companies collaborate with researchers who are at the cutting edge demonstratively of their field in academic research in the development of better products to make that research possible,” he said.

“When you’re pushing the frontier, you always need better technology.”

The key is ensuring that technology doesn’t go to waste by having enough skilled researchers on hand to use it, said McDonald.

The Nova Scotia native applauded continued funding for the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which invests in state-of-the art equipment for applied and basic research. However, he said base support for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada has “almost flatlined” in recent years.

“If you have brand-new equipment and you don’t have the people, the students or technicians or post-docs to be able to operate that equipment and be able to take advantage of the really good capabilities that it has, then you’re out of balance in terms of return on investment,” he said.

Just Posted

Boy escapes serious injury after falling from third-storey window

SURREY, B.C. — A little boy is very lucky to have escaped… Continue reading

Harmonic singing for young women will be taught at a fall workshop in Red Deer

The Hearts of Harmony Chorus is presenting the Nov. 16 session

‘Crying out for help:’ Calgary radicalization program evolves to help others

CALGARY — The soft-spoken young man wasn’t being recruited by neo-Nazis or… Continue reading

Victoria pledges to plant 5,000 trees as part of United Nations challenge

Victoria is promising to plant 5,000 trees on public and private land… Continue reading

Man injured when NWT wildlife officers shoots gun during aggressive bear incident

FORT SIMPSON, N.W.T. — RCMP in the Northwest Territories say a man… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday Bower Place Community Association Seniors Card and Coffee party at 1:30… Continue reading

Democrats blast latest Trump crisis. But what will they do?

WASHINGTON — A whistleblower’s complaint over President Donald Trump’s interactions with a… Continue reading

Face transplant recipient’s donor face now failing

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A woman who was severely burned in a domestic… Continue reading

Charity boat with 182 migrants waits to dock in Europe

A non-profit-run ship carrying 182 migrants rescued on the Mediterranean Sea sailed… Continue reading

Singh-Trudeau meeting will be private, say Liberals, but no time set yet

OTTAWA — The Liberal Party pledged Saturday to keep private the details… Continue reading

Glen Assoun calls for reform in how Ottawa considers cases of wrongful conviction

HALIFAX — Tethered to an ankle monitor and alone in a British… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Saturday nights $9 million Lotto 649 jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $9 million jackpot… Continue reading

Trudeau, Scheer hit the road again for second full week of federal campaign

OTTAWA — After a day off the campaign trail Saturday, Justin Trudeau… Continue reading

Most Read