Toronto, ON – The Council of Ontario Universities has presented the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien with the David C Smith Award for Significant Contribution to Scholarship and Policy in recognition of his vision, leadership and lifelong commitment to the advancement of research and higher education in Canada.
“Mr Chrétien made a tenacious commitment to research that transformed Canada’s brain drain into a brain gain,” said Dr Peter George, chair of the Council of Ontario Universities and president and vice-chancellor of McMaster University in Hamilton. “His support for research and higher education was unprecedented and many thousands of students and researchers are indebted to his leadership in providing a foundation for the innovation that is increasingly important in our knowledge economy.”
Under Mr Chrétien’s 10-year watch, funding for research quadrupled – from approximately $500 million in 1994 to over $2.2 billion in 2003, and continues to grow.
Mr Chrétien created the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) in 1997 to provide funds to cover the costs of research infrastructure at universities, hospitals, research institutes and colleges. Today, CFI has committed a total of close to $4 billion to fund research infrastructure across Canada, over $1.6 billion to Ontario universities. One year later, Mr Chrétien created the Canadian Millennium Scholarships Foundation to provide bursaries, awards and scholarships to increase access to a postsecondary education.
He followed that up with the establishment of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research that today supports over 10,000 researchers and staff each year; the Canada Research Chairs program, which invests $300 million a year to establish research chairs throughout Canada; and Genome Canada, a national organization with centres across the country to leverage public and private funding for genomics and proteomics research.
“With energy, determination and purpose, Mr Chrétien provided leadership to higher education and research at a time our best minds were leaving for opportunities abroad,” said Dr Paul C Genest, president of the Council of Ontario Universities. “His vision has transformed our laboratories, created a robust culture of university research and inspired a generation of highly qualified personnel.”
The David C Smith Award, which was awarded to Mr Chrétien at a dinner last week with over 140 university, government and business people, was established to celebrate the extraordinary contributions of Dr David Smith, who was a tireless advocate of higher education and research, while serving as principal of Queen’s University for 10 years, chair of the Advisory Panel on Future Directions for Postsecondary Education, interim president of Trent University and advisor to provincial and federal governments.