"The Liberal government of Canada has formulated a new program to which all universities are expected to commit. It is called “Dimensions: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” A “Charter” for “Dimensions” has been distributed to all university presidents, who are urged to sign, endorsing the program for their universities.
Minister for Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan launched this program, using the “independent” funding councils—The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), The National Science and Engineering Council (NSERC), and The Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)—as the conduit for “Dimensions” grants. This is not the first time that Minister Duncan has imposed “equity, diversity, and inclusion” conditions for grants; in 2017, new diversity criteria were enunciated for the Canada Research Chair grants.
The pressure continues through subsequent grant years. Minister Duncan says, “Our government is committed to promoting equity and diversity within research and to supporting the next generation of research leaders.” Ted Hewitt, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and chair of the Canada Research Chairs Program Steering Committee assures us that they have “A strong action plan to address equity, diversity and inclusion.”
What is this “equity, diversity, and inclusion” in aid of? According to the Charter of the Dimensions program, the objective is “to foster increased research excellence, innovation and creativity within the post-secondary sector across all disciplines.” Who could object to “increased research excellence, innovation, and creativity,” which is the conventional and legitimate objective of research administrators? What is new here is the means by which these results would be allegedly brought about: “through increased equity, diversity and inclusion.”
According to the Charter, “The post-secondary research community has the greatest potential to thrive when members experience equitable, inclusive and unbiased systems and practices.” The NSERC press release announcing the Dimensions program claims that “Evidence clearly shows that increasing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in research environments enhances excellence, innovation and creativity.” In fact, no such evidence is adduced or cited, and readers should be skeptical of unsubstantiated claims. Without evidence, it would be prudent to assume that the asserted relationship is fabricated and imaginary.
What does “equity, diversity, and inclusion” mean in practice? It means that certain categories of people must favoured in academic competitions, while unfavoured categories of people must be excluded. The favoured must be put up for grants, or else the grants would not be forthcoming; conversely, unfavoured categories of people must be excluded from the competition, or else the grants would not be forthcoming.
How are favoured and unfavoured categories of people decided? According to the Charter:
To advance institutional equity, diversity and inclusion, specific, measurable and sustainable actions are needed to counter systemic barriers, explicit and unconscious biases, and inequities. This includes addressing obstacles faced by, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority or racialized groups, and members of LGBTQ2+ communities.
The theory of “systemic barriers,” much loved by sociologists, attributes the different distributions of categories of people in society to prejudice and discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and ethnicity. A “social justice,” equitable, diverse, and inclusive distribution would be for each gender, race, and ethnic group to be represented in every department, faculty, and university, in every list of competition winners, in every new hire, according to its exact percentage in the general population."
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