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Two weeks of action coming on SSHRC earmarking issue

February 20, 2009

[From one of the members of Stop the feds from earmarking SSHRC funds for business-related degrees! Facebook group:]

The next two weeks could see important activity affecting the earmarking of SSHRC funds for business-related degrees.

1. Bill C-10, the budget implementation legislation, has been referred to the Finance Committee. Parliament resumes Feb. 23, and our info is that the bill will go to the committee on Feb. 26. Committee proceedings are expected to end by Feb. 28, and the bill will return to Parliament for third reading (a vote) Mar. 4-6.

This is a good time to write to the Minister of Finance and your MP about the SSHRC issue. The National Graduate Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students has prepared a sample letter. It’s on the page, and also reprinted at the end of this update.

We also have a link to a[n online] petition, which is being circulated by MP Niki Ashton. She will present the petition in Parliament. The printable PDF of the petition is at http://nikiashton.ndp.ca/sites/default/files/sshrc_petition.pdf. [UPDATE (24/2/09): Apparently in order to count, you need to print off the PDF, sign it, and mail it in.]

2. The Canadian Association of University Teachers will lobby Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear on February 26. They are expected to raise the SSHRC earmarking issue. CAUT wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Harper on the larger issue of funding for all three granting councils, available as a Discussion Topic on the [Facebook] group page .

If you are a faculty member, you may wish to write to Minister Goodyear and to CAUT this week to highlight the earmarking issue. CAUT has provided a letter template, which can be found in the same Discussion Topic as their letter to the Prime Minister.

3. Graham Cox, chair of the National Graduate Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students, says the NGC-CFS will try to testify before House and Senate committees reviewing Bill C-10. Representatives of graduate student associations from across Canada will be meeting in Fredericton from February 26 to March 1. Student representatives will also be meeting in Ottawa with MPs and Senators in early March.

This is a good time to contact your university graduate student association, find out what they are doing on the SSHRC issue, and volunteer to help. Some members have already held information meetings. The Feb. 26-March 6 period looks good for raising the profile of the issue on your campus by putting up an information table, contacting university media, or holding a meeting.

4. Several officers of this group were contacted today by national media. While we hope this will result in more public attention, we would like to point out that we are volunteers in a loosely-organized on-line forum, rather than mandated representatives. We are therefore speaking for ourselves as individuals, just like other members of the group. Several media items are available on the page.

5. Our French-language coverage is improving, thanks to the efforts of Gaetan Beauliere and Marie-Joie Brady. The page info is available in French, and Marie-Joie has informed the Federation etudiante universitaire du Quebec of our concern.

6. SSHRC president Chad Gaffield has responded to two members with an almost identical letter, using wording from his much longer Feb. 13 letter to university officials. These are available in Discussion Topics. Faculty may be in the best position to respond further.

Thank you all for your continued interest. Keep checking the page for new information and Wall posts. We now have over 2,300 members.

Draft update prepared by officer Shannon Dea
Edited by administrator/creator Marina Devine
Circulated to and with additions by officers of “Stop the feds…”


NGC-CFS sample letter to the Minister of Finance and MPs TO SEND VIA E-MAIL

Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance: jflaherty@fin.gc.ca

Your MP: [Find your MP]

DATE

The Honourable James Flaherty, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Finance
Minister’s Office – House of Commons
Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Minister,

The federal budget presented on January 27, 2009 proposes to increase graduate student funding through the Canada Graduate Scholarship program by $87.5 million over three years. While I am pleased this government appears to be making graduate students and our contribution to the future economy a priority, it is completely inappropriate to intervene in the awarding process by directing social science and humanities scholarships exclusively to a small number of graduate students in “business-related” degrees.

I am writing today to call on you to withdraw the targeting of Canada Graduate Scholarships. Simply put, it is not the government’s role to direct the granting agencies as to what research projects it may or may not fund. This is precisely the reason why such bodies are independent from the government. Each of the granting councils allocates funding based on peer-review of applications. As such, each proposal is judged according to its merits. There is no good reason to discontinue this practice.

In light of the American economic stimulus package—which includes not only billions of dollars for research, but also for student debt relief—there is good reason to believe that the Government of Canada’s weak investment in university research will not only hamper Canada’s ability to effectively manage the global economic crisis, but will also precipitate the emigration of some of our best young researchers to the United States.

In closing, withdrawing the “business-related” stipulation on new scholarship funding is a small but important step that you can take to restore some good faith with the university research community.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

YOUR SIGNATURE

YOUR NAME

cc. COPY YOUR LOCAL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

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3 Comments
  1. February 23, 2009 4:01 pm

    Just to let folks know, unless they print off the pdf and sign it and send it in, they won’t be able to be counted on the petition that Niki is going to present in the House of Commons. An online signature isn’t enough.

  2. February 24, 2009 11:45 am

    Oh! I will update the post. Does the FB group know?

  3. February 25, 2009 8:13 pm

    Yes! This is Niki’s post to the Facebook group:

    Please forward a link to this petition to your friends and family to help support university-based research and training in the humanities and social sciences: http://nikiashton.ndp.ca/sshrc

    In addition to the web-based petition, I will also be presenting a print version of this petition in Parliament. I encourage you to print the PDF of the petition (http://nikiashton.ndp.ca/sites/default/files/sshrc_petition.pdf), collect signatures on it (including your own) and send it to me in my Ottawa office:

    Niki Ashton, MP
    914 Confederation Building
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

    Thank you so much!

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