Speech from the President: Canada Research Chairs Announcement

April 9, 2015

University of Toronto – Mississauga Campus
Mississauga, Ontario

Good morning everyone. It's a real pleasure to be here representing Canada's three research granting agencies.

First, I would like to thank Minister Holder and the Government of Canada for their ongoing support for Canadian research and innovation. Investments such as the ones announced today are making a real difference. They are creating jobs, leading to the formation of highly trained personnel, and supporting activities that ultimately improve the lives and enhance the prosperity of Canadians.

I would like to join Minister Holder in congratulating those researchers who have just been awarded a Canada Research Chair for the first time, as well as those whose Chairs have just been renewed.

These chairholders represent an influx of talent that constitutes one of the pillars of research, innovation and creativity at 36 universities throughout Canada. An influx of talent that will help not only to keep Canada competitive on the international scene, but also to develop the next generation of Canadian scientists.

Any research enterprise – or should I say any type of enterprise – is tributary of the people who populates it. If there is one point that the very scarce research literature on research funding is clear about, it is that the best predictor of scientific success is the quality of the researchers involved.

Best minds lead to best ideas. And we are dealing with the best minds here, given the stringent review process through which Canada Research Chairs are selected.

Strait is the gate. Many are called, but few are chosen.

This being said, the best formula1 drivers won't achieve much without a car, or with a car without gas. Hence the importance of aligning the Canada research chairs program with other programs designed to support research infrastructures and research operations.

This is why the Canada Foundation for Innovation must be applauded for deciding early on to partner with the Canada Research Chairs program to offer infrastructure monies for Canada research chair recipients, through its John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

Likewise, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has designed its new Foundation open competition scheme with the objective of offering a source of sustainable operational funding to the best investigators in the land.

The Canada Research Chairs are just one essential component of the wide array of programs that Canada has established to make our country a world leader in science and technology. Other examples include the Networks of Centres of Excellence, the Vanier scholarships, the Banting fellowships and, more recently, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, in which the Government of Canada has just invested $1 billion. The purpose of all these programs is to support research excellence and to help make our country a magnet for the most talented, creative researchers.

By working together to support talented researchers, federal research agencies are helping create an environment that promotes excellence. By aligning their research resources and programs, they provide our most talented researchers with the tools and resources they need to achieve real progress towards discoveries that have the potential to transform our lives.

The Canada Research Chairs announced today cover a wide array of research topics, ensuring that our country maintains a broad research base. While some of them are meant to consolidate areas in which Canada has traditionally been strong, such as neuroscience, stem cell research, photonics or proteomics, others are opening new fields of science or are responding to pressing societal issues, from environmental changes to aging.
As such, the Canada Research Chairs program offers our universities a unique opportunity to strategically address emerging priorities and adapt to an ever changing world.

One of the reasons why Canada continues to excel when it comes to research output is our ability to come together to find solutions to important problems. This is why I can only urge the researchers we honour today not to work in isolation, but to collaborate with like-minded individuals from other disciplines, to find new and original solutions to the problems we face in this increasingly complex world.

In closing, I wish to thank the University of Toronto for hosting today's event and to offer my congratulations to all of the new Canada Research Chairs.

Thank you! Merci!

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