Canadians have long held that Church and State are separate entities. Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney -- both Catholics -- were instrumental in legalizing abortion. Perhaps they felt, like many Catholics, that they were not bound by each and every papal pronouncement. Or perhaps they personally held to the tenets of their faith, but felt it was not their job to legislate church doctrine.
When it comes to Stephen Harper -- particularly when it comes to environmental policy and science in general -- one has to wonder. Ray Grigg cites a previous piece by the Alberta journalist Andrew Nikiforuk:
Because the Prime Minister will not publicly discuss his religious views, Nikiforuk's conclusions are conjectural. But the Prime Minister is known to belong to an Alberta fundamentalist Protestant church that espouses "evangelical climate skepticism". Nikiforuk contends that this church holds seven tenets which "not only explain startling developments in Canada but should raise the hair on the neck of every thinking citizen regardless of their faith: 1. Disdain for the environmental movement, 2. Distrust of mainstream science in general, 3. Distrust of the mainstream media, 4. Loyalty to the party, 5. Libertarian economics as God's will (God is opposed to government regulation or taxation), 6. Misunderstanding of divine sovereignty (God won't allow us to ruin creation), 7. Unreconstructed Dominion theology (God calls on humans to subdue and rule creation)."
Given the changes in the Omnibus Budget Bill, one has to wonder if Harper labours under the misplaced faith that God will not let us befoul creation:
A mere sample is staggering: no funding for the Polar Environment Arctic Research Laboratory, the definitive and authoritative monitor of northern climate change; withdrawal of financial support for the Kluane Research Station, a 50-year project studying high-latitude ecological changes; the slashing of almost all marine pollution monitoring; and dissolution of the National Round Table on Environment and Economy, the only institution that attempts to find sustainable business options that are satisfactory to both industry and environmentalists. Despite arguing austerity, the government found an additional $8 million of scarce money for Revenue Canada to more closely monitor environmental charities to be certain excessive funds are not being used for "political" advocacy. "Nearly half of the budget implementation bill," writes [Elizabeth] May, "is directed at re-writing Canada's foundational environmental laws." This includes the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Decisions once based on public processes guided by science now move to ministerial discretion.
President Kennedy, in his inaugural address, famously alluded to Isaiah when he declared, "God's work on earth must truly be our own." The problem is that history is full of religious zealots who claimed that God sanctioned ignorance and stupidity. It has never been God's work to burn witches or declare war on heathens. In fact, it has never been God's work to declare war of any kind -- on heathens, on science or the environment.
But, then, history was never Stephen Harper's strong suit. For him, perhaps faith trumps history. Perhaps he really believes that God is on his side.
This entry is cross posted at Eradicating Ecocide.