Maryse Lassonde - President (2015-2017)
Several significant events have taken place since my last message to you in February. After discussions that spanned more than a year, the Council of the Royal Society of Canada agreed to renew its partnership agreement with the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) to 2020. Indeed, this past year was marked by increased interactions between the three Canadian academies, namely the RSC, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS), as well as the Chair of the Board of Governors and the President and CEO of the CCA. We sincerely believe that these discussions will lead to, as was originally intended during the creation of the CCA, the improved involvement of Canadian academies in producing and distributing expert reports produced jointly with the CCA.
A number of symposia have been organized in recent months. Thus, I presented on the role of national academies in scientific diplomacy during a symposium organized by the Council of Canadian Academies at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston in February. Jointly with the Academy of Science and Technology of Senegal, we organized a bilateral conference on youth science education during a forum on March 8 in Dakar. In addition, young leaders of the RSC College met with their counterparts from Japan in Toronto on March 21 in order to prepare a Frontiers in Science symposium that will bring together, under the auspices of CIFAR, the RSC and the JSPS, 25 young academics from each country in Japan next December.
The Royal Society of Canada continues to represent Canada in all major national academy meetings. Consequently, during an elaborate ceremony organized by the Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences, I was able to hand-deliver a copy of the scientific document “Improving Global Health: Strategies and Tools to Combat Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases”, which was developed as part of the G20, directly to Ms. Angela Merkel. In addition, representatives of the RSC, namely the Foreign Secretary, the Executive Director and I, contributed to publishing three scientific statements chosen by Italy, this year’s G7 host country. The final version of the documents will be presented to the President of the Republic by the Presidents of the seven academies on May 3. Lastly, the RSC has been invited to participate in the symposium commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Royal Society of New Zealand in early April. One of the themes of the symposium is the role that national academies should play in terms of science advice. Throughout the world, knowledge societies are concerned about the growing dissemination of “alternative facts” and pseudo-science. Now more than ever, it is important that the RSC make itself heard in Canada as much as it does outside the country. An internal committee is currently exploring how the RSC should go about accomplishing this important mandate.
I will end my message by saying that, although I was impressed by the richness of the residences where the G7 and G20 discussions took place, whether in the majestic Leopoldina office in Halle, Germany, or the Villa Farnesina of the Lincei Academy in Rome, I remain sincerely proud of knowing that the Royal Society of Canada, under the initiative of William Leiss, was able to acquire its own residence, Walter House, located in the heart of the city of Ottawa. I would like to earnestly thank all of the individual donors and Institutional Members who made it possible for our great national academy to also claim its own magnificent residence of representation and assembly, one that affirms the pride that we all feel as members of the Royal Society of Canada.