July 20, 2017
For Immediate Release

Liberals Bring Confusion to R&D Corporation with Sudden Changes

‎Steve Kent, Innovation Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball Liberals are bringing the arm’s-length Research & Development Corporation under departmental control in a sudden midsummer policy lurch that is raising concerns for the province’s innovation economy and millions in leveraged industry investments.”

“Without being clear about the impact the change will have for the RDC’s current staff of professionals, the Liberals are creating a replacement entity and appointing a replacement board, led by one of their own internal officials who will be dividing his time as a Deputy Minister,” said Kent.

“The RDC was established deliberately as an arm’s-length body under a well-planned, comprehensive innovation strategy with legislation that was carefully considered in the House of Assembly. Contrast that with the Liberal announcement that has come abruptly midsummer with the House closed and the Premier away, months after the agenda-setting 2017 Throne Speech that didn’t even mention this. The Liberals can’t even say what this really means for the operations of the RDC, which will now be trying to fulfill a legislated mandate under a cloud of uncertainty and confusion.”

“The sudden apparent replacement of the world-renowned professionals‎ who sit on the RDC board of directors is a cause for concern, raising questions within the very industry whose investments the province has been working very hard (and for years very successfully) to attract,” said Kent.

“What does this mean for the clients of the programs that RDC has been using its expertise to deliver? How can the clients continue with R&D proposals and projects when the Corporation and possibly even the professionals they are dealing ‎with will soon be eliminated?”

“The RDC doesn’t just oversee provincial investments. It works professionally with partners at the federal level and in the corporate, financial and academic communities, where a cloud of uncertainty is the last thing proponents need when choosing where to invest and with whom to partner,” said Kent.

“Does the line department have the expertise internally to take over the role of the RDC and secure those leveraged investments?”

“An example of an area where the RDC’s independent expertise has proven successful is the oil and gas sector. The RDC has developed considerable expertise in this field over the past decade and driven applied research for the benefit of all players. That could be jeopardized if those professionals are lost and the line department lacks the expertise to do the job. Will the province’s ability to leverage that money be compromised if our expertise is lost and our reputation is affected?” said Kent.

“We already saw the Ball government’s innovation minister stand by silently while Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie took away our hard-won lead in ocean technology. Such losses are consequences of not having a strategic plan – of making sudden, ad-hoc decisions without being able to provide complete answers.”

“If there are consequences of destroying the independent body that was driving our innovation economy so successfully, the Ball Liberals will have undermined one of the remaining strong areas of our economy at a time when other areas of our economy are suffering badly from failed Liberal economic leadership,” said Kent.

-30-

Media Contact:
Heather MacLean
Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca