Innovation is a slow process with a long-term horizon. It is not simply changing a line of code. Canadian industry tends to lag in innovation due to a focus on short-term gains without the far perspective. It is as much a boardroom problem as a technology problem. The radically altered mandate of the NRC perpetuates precisely the same mistake. Long-term research, vital to innovation, is jettisoned and replaced by a dozen business groups merchandising the short-term applied research for short-term profits.
T.M. Holden, Deep River, Ont.
When I was a university student in the 1960s, my physics professors were using lasers to study the properties of light. They said one day lasers would be powerful enough to cut through metal, just like in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger. Little did they know that today we use lasers to play music, buy groceries and do microsurgery.
To dictate the direction of basic research based on today’s needs is incredibly short-sighted. Discovery research shines a light into the future, illuminating the way to endless possibilities.
Reinhart Reithmeier, professor, Department of Biochemistry, University of Toronto
Here’s a government that wants to use public funds for private research with no plan, no idea of the outcomes and no ownership. Leave scientific research to researchers or just break up the NRC.
Tom Ferris, Victoria
Confused, not confused
Re Senate Investigation Comes Under Fire (May 10): I shake my head and ask two questions.
1) Members of the group we supposedly depend on for “sober second thought” on our legislation seem to have been confused by terms such as “primary residence” and “secondary residence.” Don’t they know how to soberly ask for clarification, instead of just guessing (in their favour)?
2) Why were the other 100 or so members of that group not confused by the terms?
Michael Farrell, Oakville, Ont.
Oil sands : How to proceed
Jeffrey Simpson says Bitumen Needed Statesmen, Not Salesmen (May 10) to secure consensus on the oil sands’ benefits, and agreement on how to proceed with fewer environmental consequences. Pandering to environment radicals is a lose-lose proposition: They want the industry’s destruction.
The more hopeful approach Mr. Simpson suggested would squander billions of shareholders’ money on reducing “carbon intensity.” That capital should be used to discover and harness new energy sources, and create value for investors.
David Weiner, Peterborough
Great Names, Part 3
Re Great Names, Part 2 (letters, May 9): Add these to the list of great hockey names – Babe Pratt, Babe Siebert, Muzz Patrick, Mush March, Buzz Boll, Red Horner, Baldy Cotton and Cooney Weiland.
A footnote: On Nov. 12, 1931, Mush March, a winger with the Chicago Blackhawks, scored the first goal ever at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Ted Suggitt, Edmonton
Survey’s yeses, no’s
One of the deficiencies of the National Household Survey raised in several stories is that it was voluntary, and therefore various minorities were underrepresented.
As a “census taker,” I conducted hundreds of short and long-form questionnaires, on the phone and face-to-face. In my experience (perhaps statistically insignificant), refusals to do the NHS came mostly from Canadian-born, middle-age, not too well educated white people. Recent immigrants were eager to participate for reasons that are too many to explore here.
Jan Nowina-Zarzycki, Regina
AL GORE AND THE ETHICAL OIL DEBATE
If the planet seemed to get a little warmer this week, don’t blame climate change. It may have had more to do with the heat expended by more than two thousand readers who commented on The Globe and Mail’s interview with former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and related stories – not to mention the thousands more who hit “play” on video clips of Mr. Gore’s conversation with editor-in-chief John Stackhouse.
During his recent visit to Canada, Mr. Gore had plenty to say about fossil-fuel production and consumption in his own country and its long-term impact on the environment as more carbon is released into the atmosphere. But – not surprisingly – it was his comments in connection to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and Canada’s role in the climate-policy debate that raised the temperature of the discussion.