relatively energy intensive, certainly when measured in terms of energy input per unit of GDP.
For all of the above reasons, Canada has engaged in a more active debate on issues pertaining to sustainability than many other OECD countries. In the area of general economic policy, the relationship between federal government and provinces is more balanced and an economy that depends on commodity production is more likely to benefit from more sustainable economic systems. The Canadian debate is characterized by heavy reliance on consultative procedures. The country pioneered the use of Roundtables to bring together government, industry, and environmental interests in the search for consensual approaches to the broader issues of environmental policy.
The Canadian research community is spread widely across the country, with extremely long distances creating major burdens for the exchange of information. Canada embraced the information highway with more enthusiasm than most other countries outside the United States. The distribution of research centers has implications beyond geographic spread as funding decisions at the national level are inevitably influenced by considerations relating to geographic distribution (particularly insofar as French speaking Quebec is concerned), which overlays more traditional scientific considerations.
Because of its dependence on commodity production, and forest products in particular, and because of its location as the largest Arctic country after Russia, Canada has developed particular strengths with regard to forestry research and research on extreme climates.
Canada has recently created a new Department of Industry, which encompasses several previously dispersed science and technology functions, in particular of the precursor Department of Industry, Science and Technology.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Medical Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council support university research and training. Their combined budgets totaled C$806 million ($520 million). Government R&D spending represents about 2.6 percent of the federal budget, the lowest figure for any of the G7 countries. However, provincial budgets include significant additional resources for science and technology. The Council of Science and Technology Ministers involves cabinet level representatives from the federal and provincial governments and is designed to provide a forum for addressing policy issues of common interest.
A significant proportion of the government's research funds is channeled to