Raymond Blake on Canada 150 Chairs

28 07 2017

I respect the scholarly work of Raymond Blake, but his piece in today’s Montreal Gazette about the Canada 150 Chairs program is misleading. Canadian citizens, dual and otherwise, are most welcome to apply for these chairs– the key requirement is that the academic be both employed and resident outside of Canada. Repatriation of good researchers is the primary aim of this program. What I’ve heard suggests that a secondary aim is to attract British and US academics who have become disillusioned with their countries because of Brexit and Trump, respectively.  (For more on how Canadian universities can exploit the misfortunes that Brexit is creating for their UK counterparts, see here). This program is taking advantage of a rare window of opportunity. For various reasons, I know that Canadian citizens who were educated exclusively in Canadian universities are indeed eligible for the Canada150 chairs, or at least the more junior of these chairs (the $300k pa one as the associate professor level, not the $1m pa one). The key problem with this program is that the budget has not provided for spousal hires, which make it a non-starter for many people in the age of Assortative Mating.

If the Canadian government were truly serious about increasing passport diversity within the Canadian professoriate, they would repeal the requirement that the following xenophobic words appear in all Canadian academic job adverts: “All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority.” You can hug as many Syrian refugees as you want for the TV cameras, but until you get rid of that language in job ads, you will not signal openness and meritocracy to the world’s best academic researchers.