Preston Manning Interview (part 1 of 2) and PEN’s nanotechnology product inventory

After my informal series on innovation in Canada (July 13 – 15, 2009), I contacted Mr. Preston Manning as I mentioned his speech at Science Day in Canada (Ottawa) on May 27, 2009  in the context of the series and asked him some questions which he has kindly answered. For the introduction, I have taken the liberty of copying some biographical information about Mr. Manning from his website, the Manning Centre for Building Democracy,

Mr. Manning served as a Member of the Canadian Parliament from 1993 to 2001. He founded two new political parties – the Reform Party of Canada and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance – both of which became the official Opposition in the Canadian Parliament. Mr. Manning served as Leader of the Opposition from 1997 to 2000 and was also his party’s critic for Science and Technology. In 2007 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Since retirement from Parliament in 2002, Mr. Manning has released a book entitled Think Big (published by McClelland & Stewart) describing his use of the tools and institutions of democracy to change Canada’s national agenda. He has also served as a Senior Fellow of the Canada West Foundation and as a Distinguished Visitor at the University of Calgary and University of Toronto. He is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and is an Institute Certified Corporate Director.

He is also according to the National Institute of Nanotechnology (NINT) a member of their board.

  1. In your May 27, 2009 speech you mentioned that Canada’s beginnings are based in science and technology as per the establishment of the Geological Survey of Canada. This contrasts with the line of thought which suggests that Canadians have always been “drawers of water and hewers of wood” as per Harold Adams Innis’ staples theory. Can you reconcile these two views or do you consider them to be competing views? And why do you hold this opinion?

It’s true that Canada, particularly in the beginning, had a resource-based economy (Innis’ theory). But it is also true that Canada made a very early commitment to science and technology through establishing the Geological Survey of Canada. The Survey identified the water, wood, and other natural resources that Innis’ theory focuses on.

There are two more questions and answers from this interview which will be posted tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’ve been getting information from the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) about various upcoming events (more about those tomorrow) and about their product inventory. From the news release about the product inventory,

Over 1,000 nanotechnology-enabled products have been made available to consumers around the world, according to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN). The most recent update to the group’s three-and-a-half-year-old inventory reflects the increasing use of the tiny particles in everything from conventional products like non-stick cookware and lighter, stronger tennis racquets, to more unique items such as wearable sensors that monitor posture.
“The use of nanotechnology in consumer products continues to grow rapidly,” says PEN Director David Rejeski. “When we launched the inventory in March 2006 we only had 212 products. If the introduction of new products continues at the present rate, the number of products listed in the inventory will reach close to 1,600 within the next two years. This will provide significant oversight challenges for agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Product Safety Commission, which often lack any mechanisms to identify nanotech products before they enter the marketplace.”
Health and fitness items continue to dominate the PEN inventory, representing 60 percent of products listed. More products are based on nanoscale silver—used for its antimicrobial properties—than any other nanomaterial; 259 products (26 percent of the inventory) use silver nanoparticles. The updated inventory represents products from over 24 countries, including the US, China, Canada, and Germany. This update also identifies products that were previously available, but for which there is no current information.

You can view the rest of the news release here and you can view the inventory here. It’s interesting to see that so many(60%)  products have silver nanoparticles which have been a matter of great concern regarding their impact on humans and other species as they enter the water supply. One note, the inventory includes products that may no longer be on the market.

One last bit before I sign off for today, I went to a luncheon welcoming a new dean (Dr. Cheryl Geisler) for a new faculty, the Faculty of Communication, Art, and Technology, at Simon Fraser University (SFU in Vancouver, Canada). They’ve taken a disparate group of departments and schools housed in different faculties to create this new faculty and Geisler is the founding or inaugural dean.

The audience was a mix of SFU brass (academic, administrative, and board of governors types) with business interests (Boeing, IBM, and the local business media guy, Peter Ladner) and the arts community (Max Wyman, Christopher Gaze, Terry Hunter, and Dalannah Gail Bowen) along with many others whom I did not recognize.

In her speech, Geisler did a good job of bringing together the disparate pieces of her portfolio and emphasizing her interest and belief in community both internally and externally to the university. She lost focus a few times, notably towards the end of the speech portion and  during the ‘town hall’ portion of her presentation. I think maintaining focus is going to be one her biggest challenges since in addition to the disparate groups being united in the new faculty (being called FCAT for short) her portfolio is spread on multiple campuses (Burnaby mountain, Harbour Centre, Surrey, and the new Woodward’s building in the downtown eastside). I hope to have more from Geisler soon as she has indicated she’ll give me an interview for this blog.

6 thoughts on “Preston Manning Interview (part 1 of 2) and PEN’s nanotechnology product inventory

  1. BaxDoc

    hi Frogheart – seems a tad tautological to me, what Mr. Manning says about the Geological Society of Canada – how does ‘identifying’ the wood and water to be, er, hewed and drawn constitute innovation? Identification of what is surely is not something new? Perhaps tomorrow in the rest of the interview he will elaborate …
    good to have you back and congrats on your presentation at the ISEA (I hope I got the acronym right)

  2. admin

    Hi BaxDoc! Yes, it is tautological and unfortunately he does not expand on it later.Yes you got it right , it is ISEA and thank you for the congratulations. I was pleased as punch that there were several people in the room for the presentations as opposed to the usual crowd of 1 or 2. :)

  3. BaxDoc

    sounds like more than several people my modest friend. sounds like it was a seriously large crowd! and given how few people are actually thinking and writing about the various implications (and overview) of nanotechnology, you are to be more than congratulated. I’m sure a lot of people already knew of you ..

  4. admin

    Hi BaxDoc! thank you for the kind words … our (there were four of us presenting) afternoon session probably had between 30 and 40 people … it’s hard to tell since people session hop so there was coming and going the whole time …

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