Andrew Coyne has an interesting take on the National Research Council's new mandate. The NRC was originally established to do the kind of research which business could not and should not do:
Hence it is well-established economic principle that basic research is the sort of thing governments should fund. By the same token, however, government should not be in the business of funding applied research, that is research directed to commercial uses. Not only is this unnecessary — business can perfectly well fund this sort of thing on its own — but it inevitably tilts the pitch in favour of certain activities over others: some technologies, innovations, products, firms and industries will be funded, at the expense of the rest.
The Harper government likes to claim that it is devoted to "free markets." But, Coyne writes, that claim is patently false:
After so many previous episodes — the auto industry bailouts; the proliferation of subsidies and tax breaks to other favoured industries, even including the venture capital industry; the extension of regional development subsidies to every part of the country; to say nothing of its highly discretionary foreign investment policy, jawboning of banks, etc. etc. etc. — it should by now be clear to everyone: This can no longer be described as mere political posturing. It accurately reflects the government’s current thinking on the economy. We have to stop talking about the Harper government having “abandoned its principles”. Whatever might once have been the case, these are its principles.
This is a government which believes in market intervention -- not in favour of ordinary citizens, but in favour of business:
It is simply wrong to refer to the Harper government as “free market” in orientation. Its economic policy is, and has been for some time, heavily interventionist — perhaps the most interventionist of any government since Trudeau’s.
Stephen Harper claimed he was in favour of accountability -- then shut down all avenues to it. He claimed he was fiscally responsible then ran up the biggest deficit in Canadian history. He claims that markets should be allowed to function freely, but insists that they function according to his rules.
Coyne's point is simple: You can't believe a word he tells you. He's a fraud.