Mr. W. G. Dinsdale (Brandon-Souris):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a contribution to the discussion of this extremely important matter that is before the house at the present time. I say it is important because it is recognized today by everyone in responsible positions that research is absolutely necessary if modern nations are going to maintain their position among the nations of the world. Ever since the western world applied the scientific method in the solution of its problems it has been possible for the researchers of the western world to carry on almost indefinitely, in terms of physical progress, by means of the art of invention.
Actually with the advent of the scientific method man invented the art of invention. In the physical sciences we of course have some outstanding examples of what this has meant in terms of development in the field of materialistic progress. For instance, the most recent and perhaps the most outstanding example of what can be accomplished as a result of the discovery of the art of invention is the successful completion of what has become known as the Manhattan project. A group of scientists banded together in order to meet the challenges arising from world war II, and by pooling their own knowledge in the field of physics and bringing together the vast amount of knowledge that had been accumulating from the nineteenth century onwards they were able to complete successfully the construction of the atomic bomb. That, I think, demonstrates very dramatically the potentialities, particularly in the physical sciences, that are inherent in the field of organized and co-ordinated research.
It seems that in Canada, as in the other western nations, the emphasis in research has been placed upon the development of the arts of war. In looking at the record of our own national research council we find that it came into existence in the year 1917 largely as the result of the pressing demands that had arisen from Canada's participation in world war I. Since that time the national research council has made definite strides in Canada, and in my opinion its greatest work, as I read the record, has been as a co-ordinating body bringing together various research projects under way in Canada.
These projects largely fall within four fields. First of all there are the projects undertaken by the federal government. Second, there are the projects undertaken by provincial governments. Closely connected with the activities of provincial governments in the field of research are the provincial universities and private provincial educational institutions. Finally we have the very excellent work that is being undertaken by private industry. Today private industry spends a good deal of its time and resources in seeking new areas of activity and new methods of production, endeavouring to increase its efficiency by applying scientific ideas to the field of research.
I should like to support the hon. member for Lambton West (Mr. Murphy) in his submission that there is room for the expansion of research activities in Canada, particularly in areas other than those concerned with the development of the arts of war. Canada is engaged in tremendous activities so far as the arts of war are concerned. The atomic energy project at Chalk River is commanding a good deal of our attention. The new demands of warfare in the Arctic climate are also receiving considerable attention from Canadian researchers. These activities are very necessary and essential to our national defence.
However, I think that we might well give consideration to greater promotion of the arts of peace and the field of domestic research. In this connection I should like to refer to the activities of our provincial governments. Through the provincial agricultural colleges they are largely responsible for agricultural research. In my own province of Manitoba there has been much discussion in recent years about the fact that the faculty of agriculture of the University of Manitoba has not devoted too much attention to fundamental research. Actually the only original research being carried out in the field of agriculture in that province, and also in the other prairie provinces, is being done through our experimental farm services. It seems to
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me that the faculties of agriculture of the respective universities are in an ideal position to tackle the agricultural problems peculiar to their own provinces. I believe some attention should be given by the federal government to encouraging in every way possible the promotion of essential research, particularly in the prairie provinces which are so dependent upon the well-being of the agricultural industry.
While governments, both provincial and federal, are making their contribution together with industry to the field of original research, I believe fundamental research is essentially a function of the universities. From time immemorial, even before the advent of the application of the scientific method to the field of creative thought, our universities have been the custodians of new ideas and creative thought and activity. Our universities, along with the other agencies responsible for carrying on research, have devoted much of their attention to physical research. Indeed, there is an excellent plan of research assistance under federal government sponsorship by means of which the various university faculties are tied into research projects. That applies particularly in the fields of physics, chemistry, electronics and so on, areas which again are essential to the defence of Canada.
I do not have the details on the matter, but I wonder whether the same amount of assistance is being given to university faculties, which are so well equipped to carry on research, as is being given to research projects operating directly under government sponsorship. For example, how would the grant per researcher to one of our Canadian universities compare with the grant per researcher to some scientist directly engaged in the atomic energy project at Chalk River? I would venture to say that the grant to a university scientist would be somewhat smaller than that to the scientist operating at the Chalk River project. I wonder also just how the grant per university for research work compares on a proportionate basis to the funds that are being supplied to carry on the project at Chalk River?
The universities with their highly qualified staff, most of whom have become experts in their respective fields as a result of long years of study in Canada and abroad, are merely waiting for the opportunity to expand their activities in the field of creative research. Not only are there members of the faculty who are qualified, but also the universities are responsible for the experts who, in turn, will carry on creative research activity of the future in the research projects
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that are being undertaken under government sponsorship. We find that the faculty members depend substantially for assistance on their graduate students, particularly those proceeding to the Ph.D. level. Because of the fact they have these graduate students available to participate in research projects, these projects can be carried on with a minimum of expense. The greater the support, the better prepared these graduate students are to carry on further work when they pass beyond the confines of the university and go out to carve out their own careers in their chosen field of activity.
This, of course, applies to the realm of the physical sciences especially in Canada. Perhaps even more so than in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, we have restricted our research activities largely to the realm of the physical sciences. There is, for example, no body operating in the social science field that compares to the national research council of Canada. There is a voluntary organization that calls itself the social science research council, but it is not incorporated directly into the activities of the national research council.
I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that if there is room for further development in the physical sciences to deal with the urgent problems that face us, there is definitely a more challenging area of activity open to study and investigation in the field of the social sciences. It is true that the social sciences are comparatively new. Various social sciences, so far as universities are concerned, are relatively new scientific disciplines. Some of them, such as sociology, have not as yet established themselves as a scientific discipline. Even economics, which is often referred to as the dismal science, has its severe critics when it is viewed from the standpoint of a scientific discipline. Notwithstanding all this, Mr. Speaker, I feel that this government, as well as the other agencies who have the necessary skills and resources to promote research activity, would be well advised to give closer attention to the necessity of carrying on their research in the social science field.
Actually the political scientist comes under the classification of a social scientist. We who participate in the activities of the house are well aware that there is a wide area of investigation that we have not even touched so far as endeavouring to rationalize what takes place here, and in the whole democratic processes for that matter. Certainly if we cannot meet the challenge in the field of human relationships, which is the area of interest that the social science concerns itself with, there is not much hope that all the
research we are doing in the physical sciences, particularly in the arts of war, will be of any value to Canada or to any other nation.
In speaking to this very important topic, Mr. Speaker, I would definitely support the hon. member for Lambton West who has made such a comprehensive statement on the board aspects of the subject, particularly in reference to the need for further development in the physical sciences. At the same time, I should like also to suggest in the strongest terms possible that the time has come when this government, through its various departments and agencies, might consider the possibility of giving closer support to the various social science faculties operating in our universities in Canada. This would enable them to pursue with greater enthusiasm the work to be undertaken in this field, and also be in a position to expand. As we view the situation, I believe we are forced to the conclusion that Canadian universities are merely on the fringe of the research that is necessary if we are going to solve the very pressing human problems that confront us in this twentieth century.
Mr. Speaker, I should like to call it ten o'clock.