A Proposal for

The Canadian Academies

Consultation Document

July 25, 2001

1 This document defines "the sciences" as the full spectrum of sciences, including natural sciences,engineering, health sciences, social sciences and the humanities.

2 Assessment involves understanding what we know about the sciences underlying an issue and moreimportantly, what we do not know; it defines what questions remain unanswered; it establishes a holistic view ofcomplex issues and clarifies areas of concurrence, divergence and uncertainty (where they exist); and, it examinesthe validity of the sciences informing the issue.


A Proposal for the Creation of The Canadian Academies


In response to repeated calls for the creation of an independent national science organization, Dr.

Gilbert Normand, Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development, hosted a nationalround table in Aylmer, Quebec in October 2000. The purpose of the round table was to considerwhether Canada requires credible and independent assessments of the sciences 1 that underliepressing issues of the day. In February 2001, Dr. Gilbert Normand established a small workinggroup to develop a proposal for a new Canadian national science organization. The workinggroup, which was drawn from a cross-section of the participants in the October round table, wasasked to develop a workable proposal that reflects the areas of consensus and issues of concernraised during the October 2000 round table. A list of Working Group members is attached asAppendix 1.

The following is a proposal to create a new national science organization, herein referred to asThe Canadian Academies, to ensure that Canada can conduct the assessments 2 and maintain theinternational linkages critical to capturing the opportunities and meeting the challenges resultingfrom advances in the sciences.


Scientific advances and new technologies surround us at work, at home and inour schools. They pervade and increasingly define our health, privacy andleisure. New technologies are becoming embedded in our households andindustrial products. They underpin our jobs, our standards of living, ourproductivity, our competitiveness, and our ability to protect our environment.

They connect us in ever changing ways and underlie important social,community, family and economic change that we all must evaluate and adjust to.

New science is advancing and pushing the frontiers of knowledge, itsapplications and its impacts in ways that cannot be clearly anticipated. Theseimpacts need to be better understood.

John de la Mothe, Working Group MemberUsing Knowledge to Advantage (October 2000)

Given the pervasiveness and impact of science and technology (S&T) on all aspects of our lives,we need to better understand their intended and unintended consequences. Citizens want tounderstand how important advances in science and technology will affect and enrich their lives.

Industry relies on S&T to make important decisions with respect to new investments and productand service development. They also need to understand, to the extent possible, how their productsand services will interact with people and the environment. The government has similar interests;it needs to make sound decisions for the well-being of Canada and Canadians.

As the sciences move to the centre of decision-making in all walks of life, consideration must begiven to how Canada, as a society, keeps abreast of the impacts and implications of advances inthe sciences. Informed decisions rest on a foundation of independent, multi-disciplinaryassessments of the sciences. At a minimum, assessment establishes an extensive picture ofcomplex issues and clarifies the lines of debate. At its best, the assessment process builds acommon base of understanding and establishes a consensus on the questions that remains to beanswered. Canada requires a national science organization to build this base of understanding.

Science and technology are also at the centre of accelerating changes in the global economy.

Globalization has resulted in increasing market integration, greater harmonization of governmentstandards, regulations and policies, and enhanced international collaboration in all fields ofscience. The challenges and opportunities that arise from advances in the sciences areincreasingly international in scope. Effective responses often require a collaborative approachthat draws on the scientific and technological expertise resident in a number of countries.

Establishing a recognized voice for Canadian science, through the creation of a national scienceorganization, will provide an important contribution to Canada’s international S&T relations andsecure the benefits associated with international collaboration.

Within Canada, a number of science organizations are involved in science promotion and literacyand often represent their own organization internationally. However, Canada does not have asingle organization that is recognized internationally as representing Canada on the full spectrum ofthe sciences. Furthermore, Canada does not have a mechanism or an organization that is mandatedto carry out assessments on a regular basis. The Royal Society of Canada has, on an ad-hoc basis,conducted a number of assessments of science issues of public concern.

Clearly, given the ascendency of issues involving the sciences, Canada faces an imperative toestablish a national science organization. As proposed, The Canadian Academies will notduplicate the work of existing organizations but rather, will harness and complement the importantcontribution of these organizations.


The Canadian Academies, an arms-length, not-for-profit, charitable organization, will provide apublic service by ensuring independent, unbiased assessments of the sciences and by representingthe sciences both within Canada and internationally. The "sciences" are defined as the fullspectrum of sciences, including natural sciences, engineering, health sciences, social sciences andthe humanities. This organization will build on and complement the mandate of existing Canadianscience organizations. Its mission is twofold:1. To provide a source of credible, independent, expert assessments on the sciencesunderlying pressing issues and matters of public interest; and2. To provide a strong Canadian voice for the sciences both nationally and internationally.


• Involve a diversity of stakeholders (scientists and non-scientists) to independently identifyand formulate the questions requiring expert assessment.

• Ensure credible, independent expert assessments of important issues to support informeddecision-making by the public, government and other stakeholders; assessments willconsider the impact of expanding knowledge on society.

• Widely disseminate the results of assessments, as well as the scientific base for theassessments, in a form that can be understood by the public.

• Together with other partners, engage the public in discussions on the reports.

Voice for Sciences• Articulate Canada’s interests on all issues where the collective voice of Canadian scienceneeds to be heard.

• Together with its member organizations, participate in joint activities with nationalacademies around the world.

The Canadian Academies will be a federally-incorporated, arms-length, not-for-profit, charitableorganization registered under the Canada Corporations Act, pursuant to an application to theMinister of Industry for the granting of Letters Patent. This application will be made by a numberof individuals acting on behalf of the founding Member Organizations.

The Board of Governors

• The Canadian Academies will be governed by an inclusive, diversified and balancedboard of 12 to 20 voting members all of whom must be Canadian citizens resident inCanada. Individual members and the chair will serve two year terms. Terms can beextended by one year with Board approval. Initial terms will vary in length from two tofour years in order to support a staggered rotation of members.

• The initial composition of the Board of Governors will be as follows:S A Board member will be elected by the members of the Board to serve as chairS President of the Administration (non-voting member)S 2 members appointed by each of the Member OrganizationsS 6 members appointed from the general public

• The size of the Board will increase by four members each time a new MemberOrganization is added (two from the new Member Organization and two from the generalpublic) to a maximum of 20 Board members in total. In the event that there are more thanfive Member Organizations, each Member Organization will be entitled to appoint onlyone Board member. As such, the number of Member Organizations will be limited to ten.

• Board members appointed by the Member Organizations will always equal the number of Board members drawn from the general public.

• The Member Organizations will make their appointments first. Appointments to the Boardfrom the general public will follow to ensure an inclusive, diverse and balancedrepresentation on the Board. Board members will not be, and should not be thought of as,delegates of an organization or body. Board members will be required to adhere to strictconflict of interest guidelines.

• Based on the recommendation of the Minister of Industry, the Governor in Council willappoint members from the general public based on recognized leadership within theirrespective communities, a demonstrated commitment to Canada and its citizens, and on thebasis of their personal qualifications. Board members cannot be directors of MemberOrganizations. In making the appointments, the Minister of Industry will ensure that the fullBoard of Governors reflects the breadth of sectors, fields of study and social, economicand cultural communities appropriate for effective delivery of The Canadian Academies’mandate. The Minister of Industry will also ensure balance with respect to gender,language, age and geographic representation.

• An arms-length selection committee, appointed jointly by the Member Organizations andthe Minister of Industry, will be established to solicit and review nominations for Boardmembers drawn from the general public. The selection committee will be chaired by amember of the Board of Governors. The selection committee will provide confidentialrecommendations to the Minister of Industry regarding general public candidates for Boardmembership. The selection committee members will serve two year terms that can berenewed for one or more terms. Initial terms will vary in length from two to three years inorder to ensure continuity.

• The Board will approve and direct The Canadian Academies’ programs and administrativeoperations, through the Administration, in support of The Canadian Academies’ missionand mandate. The decision to conduct an assessment panel and the questions to be studiedin the assessment will be the final decision of the Board. In addition, the Board willactively develop and maintain linkages with equivalent international bodies.

• The Board will meet at least three times each fiscal year; at least once with representativesof the Boards of Member Organizations.

• Board members will not receive remuneration, but will be reimbursed for any reasonableout-of-pocket expenses incurred by them in performing their duties or attending meetings ofthe Board of Governors.


• Member Organizations are, in effect, the shareholders of The Canadian Academies.

• Founding Member Organizations will include The Canadian Academy of Sciences andHumanities (a registered trade-mark of The Royal Society of Canada); The CanadianAcademy of Engineering; and The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (to beestablished later this year).

• Following an initial three year waiting period, the Board can appoint additional MemberOrganizations, as appropriate, providing they meet rigorous criteria for membership asjudged by the Board of Governors, and have the consent of the Member Organizations.

Specific criteria include: national standing and recognition; the ability to enhance thecredibility of The Canadian Academies; and, the ability to play a substantive role infulfilling the mission and mandate of The Canadian Academies.

• Member Organizations will retain their existing corporate identities, mission, mandates,national and international affiliations, and organizational structures.

• Close collaboration between the Member Organizations and The Canadian Academies isan important component of The Canadian Academies’ operations. The ability to call uponthe diverse memberships and networks of Member Organizations is key to effectivedelivery of The Canadian Academies’ mandate.


• The Board will appoint the officers of The Canadian Academies, who will in turn appointemployees. Directors will not be eligible to be employed by The Canadian Academies.

• The Administration will include a President and permanent, salaried staff. The Presidentwill be responsible for all aspects of the management of The Canadian Academies and willensure that all recommendations and resolutions of the Board are carried out.

• In addition to the detailed administration of all operations, the Administration’sresponsibilities will include:S coordinating and supporting arms-length selection committees;S identifying potential issues warranting assessment (the Board of Governors willmake final decisions with respect to topics chosen);S identifying and screening potential panel members;S coordinating and supporting assessment panels;S developing dissemination and communications strategies for assessment reports;andS identifying and coordinating international collaboration opportunities inThe Canadian Academies (cont’d) - 7 -3Advisers to the Nation (brochure): National Academy of Sciences, National Academy ofEngineering, Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Councilconsultation with Member Organizations.

Assessment Panels

• Under the auspices of The Canadian Academies, assessment panels will conductassessments of the sciences underlying pressing issues and matters of public interest.

• Assessments can be prompted internally or though external requests (e.g. federalgovernment departments, provincial and municipal governments, industry,non-governmental organizations, etc.).

• The Board of Governors will decide on the questions to be asked of the expert panels. Inarriving at its decision, the Board will consider questions such as:S Are the issues grounded in science and are the data available to address them?S Are the issues of national or global importance, or if local or regional by nature,will the panel’s findings have broader application?S Will the panel report contribute understanding to a national dialogue?3• To authorize the assessment on an approved topic, the Board must approve the budget andtimetable for the process, as well as the composition of the assessment panel.

• Assessment panels will be made up of experts with knowledge and expertise relevant tothe issue being assessed, and may include international experts as appropriate. Themembership selection process will ensure that assessment panels involve the range ofexpertise required, are well-balanced, and free from conflict of interest.

• Assessment panel members will not receive remuneration, but will be reimbursed for anyreasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred by them in performing their duties or attendingmeetings of the assessment panels.

• The Canadian Academies will also conduct assessments on a collaborative basis withforeign national academies, as appropriate.

• All assessment reports will undergo formal review procedures to assure their quality andobjectivity. Outside reviewers, anonymous to the assessment panel that prepared thereport, must agree that the findings of the report are fully supported by the evidencepresented before a report can be released. Reviewers will be required to adhere to strictconflict of interest guidelines.

• Following a successful review, all assessment reports will be widely disseminated, inboth official languages, to the public and stakeholder groups. A diversity of mechanisms-3Advisers to the Nation (brochure): National Academy of Sciences, National Academy ofEngineering, Institute of Medicine, and the National Research CouncilThe Canadian Academies (cont’d) - 8 -willbe employed to disseminate the reports. Panel chairs and members will be activelyinvolved in communicating the findings of assessments to the public and stakeholders.

• For all assessments, the reports and all supporting documentation remain the property ofThe Canadian Academies.


• The Canadian Academies requires base level, stable funding to operate independently andengender credibility with clients, stakeholders, international science organizations and thepublic. It is estimated that The Canadian Academies will require an annual operatingbudget of approximately $3 million to fulfill its basic obligations.

• One funding model involves an annual allocation of $3 million provided by theGovernment of Canada. This option would tie The Canadian Academies to thegovernment’s established budgetary process, thereby possibly limiting its flexibility tomeet demands for assessments and fulfill international commitments on a timely basis.

• The preferred funding model is the provision of an initial fund of $30 million, by theGovernment of Canada, that would be drawn down over a ten year period. This wouldensure stable and continuous funding for an initial ten year period, and reinforce TheCanadian Academies’ arms-length relationship with government. Further funding would becontingent on the results of an external evaluation of The Canadian Academies’effectiveness in fulfilling its mission and mandate.

• The Canadian Academies will, through its ongoing operations, secure additional financialresources from clients and donors. As a not-for-profit, charitable organization, TheCanadian Academies will encourage charitable donations.

• In recognition of its contribution to The Canadian Academies, the Government of Canada isentitled to request two assessments annually. For these assessments, the requestingdepartment will cover the incremental costs of conducting the assessments (i.e. travelrelated costs for assessment panel members and the production costs for the assessmentreport).

• Resources will be vested in The Canadian Academies. The Board of Governors willauthorize all budget allocations.


National Science Organization Working Group


The Honourable Gilbert Normand

Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development)


William (Bill) Leiss

PresidentThe Royal Society of Canada

Philip Cockshutt

Executive DirectorCanadian Academy of Engineering

Eliot Phillipson

PresidentCanadian Institute of Academic Medicine

David Strangway

President and CEO Canada Foundation for Innovation

John de la Mothe

MemberCouncil of Science and Technology Advisors (CSTA)

Howard Alper

Past Chair, Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE)Vice Rector - Research, University of Ottawa

Monique Frize

NSERC/Nortel Chair Women in Science and Engineering (Ontario)

Germain Godbout

Directeur généralAssociation canadienne-française pour l’avancement des sciences (ACFAS)

Thomas A. BrzustowskiTh

PresidentNatural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Joyce Groote

President and CEO Syndel International Inc.

Patricia Clements

PresidentHumanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada (HSSFC)

Martha Piper

President and Vice-ChancellorThe University of British Columbia

Olga A. Barrat

PresidentCanadian Academy for the Advancement of Science

Michel Chrétien

DirectorRegional Protein Chemistry Centre and Diseases of Ageing UnitOttawa Health Research Institute

Margaret Lefebvre

PresidentCouchiching Institute on Public Affairs


Key Characteristics

The Canadian Academies, through its mission, mandate, structure, and operating processes, will exhibit the following characteristics:

• independent

• inclusive

• impartial

• credible

• objective

• authoritative

• transparent

• self-critical

• accountable