Canada to stop funding foreign-affiliated research that threatens national security News
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Canada to stop funding foreign-affiliated research that threatens national security

Canada announced on Tuesday its plan to protect Canada’s research over national security considerations. The government intends to stop funding research in the sensitive technology research area that involve institutions connected to foreign military, national defence or state security entities that could pose a risk to Canada’s national security.

In implementing the policy, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Health Mark Holland and Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc published a joint statement. In it, they claimed that the openness of Canadian-led research attracts foreign influence that is detrimental to national security.

In implementing the protection plan, the Canadian government published a list of Sensitive Technology Research Areas that the Canadian government claims involve advanced and emerging technologies that foreign actors could misappropriate the country’s technological advantages. The areas span across digital infrastructure, energy, sensing and surveillance, weapons, artificial intelligence, big data, quantum science and materials and manufacturing technologies.

Research in the listed areas that involve the participation of a foreign research institution that is in the Named Research Organizations will no longer receive financial support from the Canadian government. The list is composed of Chinese, Russian and Iranian institutions that the Canadian authorities deem pose the highest risk to Canada’s national security due to their connections with military, national defence and state security entities. While the government stated that it will regularly review the list based on a risk-based approach, a government spokesperson said the Canadian government does not have a complete picture of the extent of the problem.

The Chinese embassy responded by saying that the policy politicizes normal technological exchange and destroys the trust between Chinese and Canadian academics. They also called for the Canadian government to stop abusing the policy to suppress Chinese research institutions.

Noting the criticism of racial profiling and stigmatization, the Canadian government reiterated that the list is based upon evidence of national security risks. It is not intended to target certain groups of people or countries. Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service David Vigneault also cautioned the government about the labelling effect the policy might have in the Five Eyes Alliance conference held in October 2023.

Since February 2023, Canada has required research councils to to reject grant applications that involve sensitive research affiliated with foreign state-connected entities, citing national security as the reason. The government also required Canadian universities and the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities to adopt similar guidelines for their research partnerships.