Earlier this week, I had the honour of watching Dr. Art McDonald and his SNOLAB collaborators, seated in the Gallery, rise to be recognized in the House of Commons. It was another remarkable moment for Queen’s University and Canadian science, as it was when Dr. McDonald accepted his Nobel Prize in Stockholm this past December.
Their recognition was made, shortly after Question Period, by the Member of Parliament for Sudbury, Paul Lefebvre. His address to parliament follows:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise to salute the fantastic achievements of Dr. Arthur McDonald, the co-winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics. Dr. McDonald, a professor at Queen’s University, led a global team of over 270 researchers from 13 international institutions to the discovery that neutrinos can change identities, thereby confirming that particles have mass. This discovery upset the standard model of physics and changed our understanding of how the universe works.
The team conducted these experiments at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, or SNOLAB, in the Creighton mine, located two kilometres underground in my riding of Sudbury. The lab is the deepest clean room facility in the world, allowing scientists to study the particles free from cosmic radiation constantly bombarding the earth’s surface.
Residents of Sudbury and all Canadians have reason to be proud of Dr. McDonald’s scientific achievements.
I invite all members to join me in conveying our deepest congratulations to the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics winner, Dr. McDonald, and his team of collaborators.”
Just before Question Period, Dr. McDonald had the opportunity to have a meeting with the Minister of Science, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, where she presented him with a certificate of recognition signed by Prime Minister Trudeau. We were then fortunate to be invited to meet briefly with the Prime Minister himself just before entering the House of Commons.
The formal recognition in the House was followed by a lovely reception hosted by the Speaker of the House, the Honourable Geoff Regan, and the Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable George Furey. The reception provided us with an opportunity to meet with a number of Ministers and Members of Parliament, as well as members of Canada’s wider research community who attended, including the current President of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Maryse Lassonde and University of Waterloo President (and current chair of the U15), Dr. Feridun Hamdullahpur. It was a great reminder of the importance of Dr. McDonald and his team’s discovery to Canadian science, and another sign of the new government’s interest in university-based research.
That same evening, we were thrilled to see nearly 200 alumni join us for a special event celebrating the events of the day. The Queen’s spirit was indeed alive and well that night at what was probably the biggest gathering of the Ottawa Alumni Branch in my memory.
The next day, Universities Canada hosted an event featuring Dr. McDonald as the keynote speaker, providing us with yet another opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of higher education, research and innovation. Several senior-level bureaucrats were in attendance, including Gilles Patry, the President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation; Lois Claxton, the Senior Advisor to the Governor General; and Lawrence Hanson, Assistant Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
Overall, the trip to Ottawa was an exciting one for all of us, and it added yet another highlight to the phenomenal year we have had at Queen’s. Let’s do our very best to build upon this momentum as we head into our university’s 175th anniversary.