Academics in the Service of War: Military Research and Funding at Canadian Universities

By Hamel, Paul A. | Canadian Dimension, September-October 2005 | Go to article overview

Academics in the Service of War: Military Research and Funding at Canadian Universities


Hamel, Paul A., Canadian Dimension


In Canada, we have guidelines that strictly regulate the use of human stem cells and assisted human reproduction. Both Bill C-6 and the Guidelines on Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research came about through public consultations with scientists, faith groups, the Canadian public and scholars in bioethics, sociology and law, among others. These instruments established guidelines for ethical research into and use of technologies with potentially profound life-saving medical benefits. Furthermore, the Guiding Principles include the notion that "Research undertaken should have potential health benefits for Canadians" and that the research should "Respect individual and community notions of human dignity and physical, spiritual and cultural integrity."

As these instruments came into effect and the establishment of the first human stem cell lines in Canada was about to be announced, representatives of the U.S. Army were touring southern Ontario universities. The purpose of this tour was to make known to researchers at Canada's premier research institutions the various funding opportunities available to them through the U.S. military. For example, through the Pentagon's International Technology Center-Canada, Canadian scientists were asked for contributions in the development of systems enhancing the survivability, maneuverability or lethality of U.S. forces including "[technologies] to provide the warfighter the ability to autonomously deliver payloads (up to 30,000 lbs.) accurately from high altitudes (25,000 ft) and offset distances (20-30 km)" and "A fire control system that can perform tactical and technical fire control for both missiles and guns" able to "assign targets to the optimum weapon and fire multiple weapons at multiple targets."

The products of this research are intended specifically to contribute to the violent increase of global morbidity and mortality. Yet, the administration at the leading research-based university in Canada declared that "it would be at odds with the university's research-intensive mandate and commitment to academic freedom to prohibit legitimate academic research" (Provost Vivek Goel, quoted at www.news.utoronto.ca/bin6/050503-1320.asp).

How, then, does it arise that scientific research and academic freedom at Canadian universities is subject to public scrutiny, ethical guidelines and federal legislation in the context of investigations aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality while remaining outside of ethical considerations when it is specifically intended to facilitate the waging of war and the killing of civilians on a global scale?

University-based military research is only one aspect of a symbiotic relationship, an "axis of evil," between academics working at Canada's public universities, private military industries and state military establishments. Development of this relationship is recognized as a military asset by the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND). A 1998 DND report states, "This report argues the case for improving research partnerships between DND and Canadian universities as a means of maximizing the return that could accrue from a pooling of scarce resources." Combined with the hidden information through commercial secrecy and "national security" issues, Canadians unknowingly find themselves financing, developing, participating in and benefiting from wars around the world.

Direct Funding By War Criminals

According to the Association of American Universities, the U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) contributed $2,153 billion in academic research grants that resulted in an estimated 67,927 direct and indirect jobs in 2001. Clearly, waging war keeps academics at U.S. universities busy. Likewise, funding for academic programs at universities in Canada comes from organizations known to be involved in a number of violent, illegal activities. Specifically, listed among the "friends" at the University of Toronto supporting research activities in 2002 were the U.

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