Thanks to Stephanie Taylor’s Dec. 6, 2016 posting on the Science Borealis blog for an update on Canada’s Chief Science Advisor situation. Ta da: The Government of Canada has announced an official job opportunity in a Dec. 5, 2016 Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada news release,
More than 35,000 people in the federal government are involved in science and technology activities. Also, nearly 50,000 researchers and trainees across the country are supported by the federally funded research councils. From clean air and water to food security and technological advancements, science plays a crucial role in providing the evidence the Government of Canada needs to make decisions that improve the lives of Canadians.
Today, the search begins for the person who will be instrumental in furthering the Government’s commitment to science-based decision making. The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, is delivering on her key mandate commitment by launching the search for a Chief Science Advisor for Canada. The announcement took place at the historic Library of the National Research Council in Ottawa.
The Chief Science Advisor will be responsible for providing scientific advice to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Science and members of Cabinet. This individual will also advise on how to ensure that government science is open to the public, that federal scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that science is effectively communicated across government. The office will be supported by a team of scientists and policy experts.
The position is now open to all Canadians. The full job description and information on applying can be found on the Governor in Council website. The application process is expected to close [emphasis mine] on January 27, 2017.
I gather they’re keeping their options open with that “expected to close” phrase leaving them room to weasel out of the Jan. 27, 2016 deadline. In any event, here’s the job description (or as it’s being called “appointment opportunity”, from the Governor in Council Appointments nomination webspace,
Chief Science Advisor,
We know that our country is stronger — and our government more effective — when decision-makers reflect Canada’s diversity. Moving forward, the Government of Canada will use an appointment process that is transparent and merit-based, strives for gender parity, and ensures that Indigenous Canadians and minority groups are properly represented in positions of leadership. We will continue to search for Canadians who reflect the values that we all embrace: inclusion, honesty, fiscal prudence, and generosity of spirit. Together, we will build a government as diverse as Canada.
The overarching goal of the Minister of Science is to support scientific research and the integration of scientific considerations in our investment and policy choices.
The Government of Canada is currently seeking applications from diverse and talented Canadians from across the country who are interested in the following position:
Chief Science Advisor (full-time position)
The Government of Canada is establishing the position of Chief Science Advisor, which will report to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Science. Transparent communication of science and evidence-based policy-making are among the federal government’s top priorities. The new Chief Science Advisor will play a key role in fulfilling that commitment.
The Chief Science Advisor’s main function will be to advise the government on how to ensure that government science is fully available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that scientific analyses are considered when the government makes decisions. The Chief Science Advisor will focus on how scientific information is disseminated and used by the federal government, and how evidence is incorporated into government-wide decision-making. This will include a particular emphasis on federal scientific research and activities. Looking to broader scientific issues, as an adviser and coordinator of advice, the Chief Science Advisor will aim to provide impartial scientific advice on key issues with science or research components of relevance to Canada.
Candidates must apply online by January 27, 2017, via the Governor in Council website. Your cover letter should be addressed to the Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Senior Personnel), Privy Council Office, and should be sent only through the on-line application.
Salary Range: Under review
Position Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Official Languages and Diversity
The Government of Canada will consider bilingual proficiency and diversity in assessing candidates for this position. You are therefore encouraged to include in your online profile your ability to speak and understand your second official language. Preference may be given to candidates who are members of one or more of the following groups: women, Indigenous Canadians, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities.
To be considered for this position, please provide examples from your career that clearly demonstrate how you meet the following requirements in your application. Please note that the maximum size of each document uploaded as part of your application is 3 MB. A maximum of five (5) documents may be uploaded in respect of any application, including the cover letter and curriculum vitae.
Education and Experience
- A doctoral degree in natural sciences, mathematics, engineering sciences, health sciences or social sciences;
- Significant experience as a scientific research practitioner and peer reviewer, with a strong record of peer-reviewed publications in a relevant field of specialization;
- Demonstrated leadership and management experience within public or private research organizations;
- Experience participating in scientific advisory bodies established by government (e.g., expert panels, task forces, committees) would be an asset; and
- Experience in one or more of the following areas would be an asset:
- involvement in scientific reviews within legislative or regulatory processes;
- public scientific communication;
- promoting transparency and integrity in scientific research; and
- evaluation of scientific or research programs or projects.
If you are selected for an interview, the following criteria will be assessed:
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
- Knowledge of the machinery of the federal government and its decision-making process, as well as knowledge of Canadian federal science and technology policy;
- Knowledge of scientific and non-scientific issues relevant to the federal government;
- Knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing evidence-based policy-making within government;
- Knowledge of the state of current scientific evidence – including accepted theories, established findings and existing uncertainties – outside the candidate’s field of specialization;
- Ability to provide scientific advice in support of policy decisions in an authoritative and independent manner, combining knowledge and experience and effectively addressing the limits of science, the insufficiency of evidence, and appropriately framing uncertainties;
- Ability to provide constructive scientific advice on contentious issues where considerations include, but are not limited to, science, and recognizing her or his advisory role in the context of decision-making;
- Ability to provide sound advice while demonstrating integrity and independence through non-partisanship;
- Ability to think creatively, with a strategic vision for science that extends to the longer term;
- Ability to work effectively within a committee or working group framework with various governmental actors; and
- Superior communication skills, both written and oral, including the ability to develop and maintain effective relationships and networks with officials and stakeholders in the scientific community.
Proficiency in both official languages would be preferred.
If you move on to the next stage of the selection process, we will contact your references to verify how you have demonstrated the Experience requirements and the following Personal Attributes in your current and recently held positions:
- Strategic and innovative thinker
- Superior interpersonal skills
- Strong analytical skills
- Sound judgment
- High ethical standards and integrity
- Tact and diplomacy
Eligibility Factors and Conditions of Employment
In your application, it will be important that you confirm you meet the following requirements:
- You reside in or are willing to relocate to the National Capital Region or to a location within reasonable commuting distance; and
- You are willing to travel across Canada and internationally.
If you are appointed to this position:
You must comply with the Ethical and Political Activity Guidelines for Public Office Holders throughout your appointment, as a term and condition of employment. The guidelines are available on the Governor in Council Appointments website, under “Forms and Reference Material“.
You will be subject to the Conflict of Interest Act. Public office holders appointed on a full-time basis must submit to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, within 60 days of appointment, a confidential report in which they disclose all of their assets, liabilities and outside activities. For more information, please visit the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner’s website.
A link to this notice will be placed in the Canada Gazette to assist the Governor in Council in identifying qualified candidates for this position. It is not, however, intended to be the sole means of recruitment.
A roster of qualified candidates may be established and may be used for similar opportunities.
The applicant login can be found here and, if this is your first time, you will need to register first.
Interestingly, I don’t think you need to be a Canadian citizen or even to have worked in Canada before applying for this appointment. Of course, it’s highly unlikely you’d understand government processes without some Canadian experience.
I have one other comment, innovative thinkers (the top of the list for personal attributes) tend to be disruptive. In fact, I’ve just found a new term for them, “angelic troublemakers,” in a Sept. 22, 2016 article by *Shane Snow* for Fast Company,
We all know the story of the 1963 March on Washington because it culminated in one of the most iconic moments of the Civil Rights Movement, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., declaring, “I have a dream.” What many of us don’t know, though, is that the march might not have happened—and the fight for civil rights might have been a lot bloodier—if not for a rather troublesome character named Bayard Rustin.
Rustin was trouble for several reasons. He was a contrarian and outspoken. He was a radical follower of Gandhi, and what Fox News today might call “extremely liberal.” He was also openly gay, which made him a political lightning rod in those days. And yet King fought to keep Rustin around at every turn. That’s because Rustin was a master agitator, exactly what the movement needed.
At Rustin’s urging, the fledgling Civil Rights Movement eschewed direct conflict in favor of being really annoying to the powers that were. He understood that in order to make progress, he and his fellow activists didn’t need to talk and fight the way persecuted people always had. They needed to show—kindly—how it was flawed.
As Rustin famously put it, they needed to be “a group of angelic troublemakers.”
Instead of throwing rocks, Rustin encouraged civil rights protesters to sit down in the streets. Instead of tipping over buses, he encouraged supporters to boycott them. Instead of taking up arms, he encouraged people to link arms and get in the way.
Angelic troublemaking—or going against the grain in a benevolent fashion—is a powerful philosophy for business as well as social movements. It’s not just about being difficult; it’s about forcing people to see situations differently. It’s about making a mess, with good intentions, so things can change.
I suspect what the Canadian government is actually looking for is someone who is open to and champions innovative thinking.
At any rate, it’s good to see that we’re on our way to getting a Chief Science Advisor and it seems we might hear an announcement sometime in Spring 2017.
*Corrected Dec.7, 2016 at 1430 PST: I erroneously identified Walton Isaacson as the author of the Fast Company article. It is an advertising agency which uses Bayard Rustin and ‘angelic troublemaking’ as inspirational principles.