Kirsty Duncan, MP: A key figure in the design and installation of the EDI system in Canadian universities. An abridged chronology of her role (and EDI).

A doc.x copy of this post is available for download (an easier format for researchers):

Kirsty Duncan is the current (Aug.12, 2022) elected Liberal MP for the Etobicoke North, Ontario, riding. She is also currently the Deputy House Leader of the Government. 1

Duncan was first elected to parliament On October 14, 2008. She’s been re-elected every election since, her latest win occurring on September 20, 2021. Duncan was assigned: Minister of Science, November 4, 2015 – July 18, 2018; Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, January 29, 2018 – July 18, 2018; and, Minister of Science and Sport, July 18, 2018 – November 20, 2019.2

AN ABRIDGED CHRONOLOGICAL OVERVIEW OF KIRSTY DUNCAN’S ROLE IN THE DESIGN AND INSTALLATION OF THE EDI SYSTEM IN CANADIAN UNIVERSITIES:

2015

  • In a November 4, 2015 photo op of who’s who in Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet, Kirsty Duncan is introduced as the Minister of Science3:

Duncan is a medical geographer who taught meteorology, climatology and climate change from 1993 to 2000. She later changed course, looking into the probability of a global flu crisis, and wrote about her experience in Hunting the 1918 Flu: One Scientist’s Search for a Killer Virus.

  • A National Post article by Tom Blackwell, November 11, 2015, makes apparent that not everyone is happy with Duncan’s assignment4:

Tim Caulfield, a health-policy professor at the University of Alberta, praised Trudeau for giving science a distinct place in cabinet when the Harper government seemed to diminish its role.

But he’s concerned the job is being filled by an MP with no qualms about exerting “top down” political pressure on the scientific community. Duncan’s refrain about close-minded researchers spurning cutting-edge work from “outsiders” also are worrisome, said Caulfield.

Blackwell’s article includes an excerpt from Duncan’s book, Hunting the 1918 Flu: One Scientist’s Search for a Killer Virus, which provides a clue to Duncan’s commitment to EDI:

“Young academics and especially female academics often receive little respect and are, more often than not, used and abused by the system.”

2016

  • On October 12, 2016, Duncan announces5 the launch of a new competition for 11 Canada Research Excellence Chairs:

To further this inclusive approach to science, the  Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, announced the launch of a new  competition for 11 Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERCs) today at the  University of Calgary.

Established in 2008, the CERC program awards  universities up to $10 million over seven years to support world‑class researchers so  they can establish dynamic research programs. However, only one of the 27 CERCs  is a woman. To address this imbalance, the Minister announced the new  competition will require institutions to include detailed equity plans and  recruitment strategies that promote the participation of women and other  underrepresented groups in the CERC program.    

In addition to equity requirements, new chairs will also be awarded in  priority areas; at least two chairs will be in fields related to clean and  sustainable technologies, at least one chair will be designated for business  sector innovation, and up to three chairs will be marked for open areas of inquiry  that will benefit  Canadians.

2017

  • Registration 2107-02-22, Order Designating the Honourable Kirsty Duncan as the Minister for the purposes of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Act and Designating the Minister of Science as the appropriate Minister for the purposes of the Financial Administration Act, SI/2017-9, Past version: in force between Feb 22, 2017 and Jul 17, 2018, This regulation is repealed or spent since 2018-07-18., https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/regu/si-2017-9/latest/si-2017-9.html, accessed August 13, 2022.6

  • November 2, 2017, Duncan announces a series of changes to the Canadian Research Chairs Program (CRCP) which bolster EDI policies.7 Universities are also required to submit EDI Action Plans by December 2107 or risk having their CRCP funding withdrawn:

Science is strongest when all people—regardless of their gender, race or heritage—are encouraged to ask questions, share their ideas and shape how we understand the world around us. The Government of Canada understands this and is committed to fostering greater equity, diversity and inclusion in the sciences so that all Canadians have the chance to discover and innovate in ways that lead to news skills and jobs, a cleaner environment and a stronger economy. 

To deliver on this commitment, Kirsty Duncan, the Minister of Science, today announced a series of changes to the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP). The changes are informed by recommendations made in the Fundamental Science Review and include: 

  • Limiting Tier 1 Chairs to a single renewal, allowing chairholders to hold a maximum of two, seven-year terms;
  • Allowing universities additional flexibility to convert chairs between Tier 1 and Tier 2 and across disciplines until December 2019, to promote greater uptake of diverse researchers into these prestigious positions; and 
  • Revising the distribution of regular chair allocations across the federal research granting councils to promote research excellence in the natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities. 

    By announcing these changes, Minister Duncan continues to implement policies that address the chronic underrepresentation of women, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities and persons with disabilities in the CRCP. 

    In addition to these changes, universities have been given a deadline of this December to submit Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans that will map out how they will meet the diversity and equity targets. Universities that do not meet their targets risk having new CRCP funding withdrawn. 

    By creating a welcoming culture of science, the Minister is ensuring the future of Canadian research is diverse, inclusive and open to all talented people who are eager to make a difference in the sciences.

2018

  • In February 2108, Duncan announces the appointment of new members to SSHRC’s 18-member governing council8:

“Two years ago [2016] the Government of Canada adopted a new open, transparent and merit-based selection approach to Governor in Council appointments and to focus on gender parity. Kirsty Duncan, the Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, cited that diversity in announcing the appointments. This impressive list of diverse candidates,” she was quoted, “will help the council further its support for the social scientists and scholars who are pushing the boundaries of knowledge and helping us better understand the world around us.”

  • A June 8, 2018 Government of Canada news release outlines Duncan’s expectations for changes in the research community9:

Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, met the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) to outline her expectations for transformative change in the research community. The Minister launched the CRCC in October 2017 with the mission of delivering on priorities that include:

  • Bringing greater harmony and coordination to research-related programs and policies in Canada and addressing common concerns across the three federal granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation;
  • Improving equity, diversity and inclusion across the research spectrum; and
  • Developing, in partnership with Indigenous communities, an interdisciplinary Indigenous research and training model that contributes to reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

During today’s meeting in Ottawa, the Minister outlined her expectations that the committee engage in ongoing consultations with the members and organizations that are part of Canada’s research community.

She then made it clear to the CRCC that she expects them to continue operating in an open, transparent and collaborative manner. Minister Duncan also discussed the vital role the committee plays in helping her achieve her goals of supporting the next generation of researchers and strengthening the culture of science and research in Canada.

  • On June 22, 2018, Duncan announces her plans to implement a Canadian version of the Athena SWAN Charter (a framework for advancing gender equity in higher education and research, UK and Ireland)10:

“Duncan, who’s also Canada’s minister of science, assumed minister of sport and persons with disabilities duties last January. …

The 2018 federal budget also committed $30 million toward gender equality in sport by 2035. With that aim, Duncan established the Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport in April, an illustrious collection of sports minds that includes hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser, soccer coach John Herdman, and Waneek Horn-Miller, an Olympian in water polo and an advocate for Indigenous rights.

“What I said to them when I called them, ‘I’m not looking for another report. We know the issues, we know the problems. What I’m searching for is actions that I can implement,’” Duncan said.”

  • On October 2, 2018, a University Affairs article announces11 that, “Consultations are underway for a ‘made-in-Canada’ Athena SWAN program,”

Over the summer, the federal minister of science and sport, Kirsty Duncan, met with U.K.’s Advance HE, the organization that administers the Athena SWAN accreditation program, and held informal roundtables with Canadian university leaders and researchers on the opportunities and challenges in bringing the program to Canada.

  • September 10, 2018: “An Open letter from the Canada Research Chairs Program management to institutional presidents” gives a one-year update on the program’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan,12

As you know, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, minister of Science and Sport, has been championing strong action to increase equity, diversity and inclusion within the Canadian research ecosystem. Notably, the minister launched the program’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan in May 2017. This has led to the achievement of important milestones in improving the program’s governance, transparency, and monitoring of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

In addition, the Canada 150 Research Chairs Program, which purposefully embedded equity and diversity as a crucial element of the program, demonstrated that strong program design and institutional commitment can achieve significant results.

2019

  • February 20, 2019, a University Affairs article announces the “Canadian government [i.e., Kirsty Duncan] unveils draft Athena SWAN charter.” And, 13

Along with the draft charter, the minister’s office also formally announced a capacity building grant competition for “small institutions and colleges” to develop and implement equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, with an application deadline of March 1. The $10-million fund allows institutions to request up to $200,000 annually for up to two years for a proposed project. “As smaller postsecondary institutions may not have as many resources available to dedicate to support EDI activities in the short term, providing them with an opportunity to access these grants early was a priority,” according to NSERC.

  • On May 15, 2019, Duncan visits Wilfred Laurier University to unveil the new Dimensions charter pilot to promote EDI at Canadian universities, colleges, and polytechnics.14

“I made [equity, diversity and inclusion] a priority since I came in – this is about putting researchers and students first,” Minister Duncan said in an interview. “I want to thank universities and institutions for stepping up,” she said. Describing the new pilot program as “very ambitious,” she added that “we want to be as inclusive as possible.”

2022

Upcoming Event: NEW DATE: SEPTEMBER 1ST – VIRTUAL CONFERENCE ON EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION (EDI) WITH THE HONOURABLE KIRSTY DUNCAN15

On September 1st, 2022  (9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.) the Honourable Kirsty Duncan will join us virtually to present her thoughts on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the Canadian research ecosystem and how to promote positive changes. This will be followed by a Q&A session. This virtual meeting originally scheduled for July 8 had to be postponed for technical reasons.

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan is the Member of Parliament for Etobicoke North, and has been serving the community since 2008. She is currently the Chair of the Science and Research Standing Committee, and she previously served as Minister of Science, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities and Deputy House Leader to the Government.

References

[1] Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Member of Parliament for Etobicoke North, @2020, Kirsty Duncan (libparl.ca), accessed August 12, 2022.

[2] Roles – Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Current and Past, Members of Parliament, House of Commons, Parliament of Canada, https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en/kirsty-duncan(58877)/roles, accessed August 13, 2022.

[3] “Meet Justin Trudeau’s new Liberal cabinet,” Politics, Photos, CBC News, Nov, 4, 2105, https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudea-cabinet-ministers-profile-1.3304176, accessed August 12, 2022.

[4]Tom Blackwell, “Trudeau’s new science minister Kirsty Duncan was advocate of controversial and largely disproven MS treatment,” National Post, Nov. 11, 2015, nationalpost.com/news/politics/trudeaus-new-science-minister-kirsty-duncan-was-advocate-of-controversial-and-largely-disproven-ms-treatment, accessed August 12, 2022.

[5]”Government of Canada announces new competition for 11 Canada Excellence Research Chairs,” News Release, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Government of Canada, 2016-10-12, https://www.canada.ca/en/social-sciences-humanities-research/news/2016/10/government-canada-announces-new-competition-11-canada-excellence-research-chairs.html, accessed August 13, 2022.

[6]Order Designating the Honourable Kirsty Duncan as the Minister for the purposes of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Act and Designating the Minister of Science as the appropriate Minister for the purposes of the Financial Administration Act, SI/2017-9, <https://canlii.ca/t/52whp> retrieved on 2022-08-13

[7]Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, “Changes to the Canada Research Chairs Program will lead to greater diversity among Canada’s leading scientists,” Canada Takes Action to Increase Equity, Diversity in Research, November 2, 2017, https://www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/media-medias/releases-communiques/2017/tier_1-niveau_1-eng.aspx, accessed August 13, 2022.

[8]”New Members Appointed to Canada’s SSHRC,” Social Science Space, 02/16/2018, socialsciencespace.com/2018/02/new-members-appointed-canadas-sshrc/, accessed August 12, 2022.

[9]”Minister of Science met with the Canada Research Coordinating Committee to outline expectations,” News Release, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Government of Canada, https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2018/06/minister-of-science-met-with-the-canada-research-coordinating-committee-to-outline-expectations.html, accessed August 13, 2022.

[10]”Minister of Science launches consultations for a “made-in-Canada” Athena SWAN initiative,” News Release, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Government of Canada, https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2018/06/minister-of-science-launches-consultations-for-a-made-in-canada-athena-swan-initiative.html, accessed August 13, 2022.

[11] Anqi Shen, “Consultations are underway for a ‘made-in-Canada’ Athena SWAN program,” University Affairs, October 2, 2018, https://www.universityaffairs.ca/news/news-article/consultations-are-underway-for-a-made-in-canada-athena-swan-program/, accessed August 13, 2022.

[12]”Open letter from the Canada Research Chairs Program management to institutional presidents,” Program Details>Program Updates, Canada Research Chairs, Government of Canada, September 10, 2018, Date modified:2018-09-12, https://www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/whats_new-quoi_de_neuf/2018/letter_to_presidents-lettre_aux_presidents-eng.aspx, accessed August 13, 2022.

[13]Anqi Shen, “Canadian government unveils draft Athena SWAN charter,” University Affairs, February 20, 2019, https://www.universityaffairs.ca/news/news-article/canadian-government-unveils-draft-athena-swan-charter/, accessed August 13, 2022.

[14]Anqi Shen, “Canada launches its own version of the Athena Swan charter,” News, University Affairs, May 15, 2019, https://www.universityaffairs.ca/news/news-article/canada-launches-its-own-version-of-the-athena-swan-charter/, accessed August 12, 2022.

[15]NEW DATE: SEPTEMBER 1ST – VIRTUAL CONFERENCE ON EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION (EDI) WITH THE HONOURABLE KIRSTY DUNCAN, CHUM, Montreal, August 5, 2022, https://www.chumontreal.qc.ca/en/crchum/nouvelles/virtual-conference-equity-diversity-and-inclusion-edi-honourable-kirsty-duncan, accessed August 13, 2022.

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