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It could be a combination of push and pull factors.

If researchers had internalized the previous low funding rate, they could have inflated their grant proposals. The idea would be "okay, I might only get 60% of what I ask for, but that 60% will be the part I really want."

The other, enabling half might be a change of research direction. As I understand things, the Harper government was often more interested in "high impact" grants, where fewer researchers would get higher-value grants. This kind of thinking was the genesis of the Canada Research Chair program.

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