Last week's throne speech made mention of "polluter pays" legislation. It appears that the Harperites will offer Barack Obama a carrot, if he approves the Keystone XL Pipeline. Unfortunately, the pending legislation is a little late and, simply put, only a little.
Two weeks ago Michael Harris wrote a column questioning the competence of Mr. Harper's new Minister of State for Science, Greg Rickford. Rickford responded to the column, claiming that he wanted to "set the record straight."
Harris sets out that record, and it illustrates just how fraudulent the Harper government is when it makes promises. Harper once declared that "the fundamental challenge of our time is to make real progress on environmental protection while preserving jobs and standards of living." It's interesting to compare that statement to Harper's record on science and environmental protection. Harris directed Mr. Rickford to very recent history:
Consider that atmospheric and climate research in Canada is now funded at 70 per cent of the level it was when you came to power in 2006.
- Your government walked away from Kyoto and still hasn’t bothered to come up with a plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector.
- Your boss dumped the Office of National Science Advisor in 2008 — but we did get an Office of Religious Freedom.
- Your government cut the foundation that funded Canada’s Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) in 2011. Peter Kent came up with a great defence: The Harper government hadn’t shut down PEARL, just the funding programs that paid for it.
- Point by point, Kent’s public statements about PEARL were called “factually incorrect” by one of the co-founders of the research facility. Or when a minister says it, does it become a fact?
- Your government made the decision to close the Mersey Biodiversity Centre in Nova Scotia as of 2014.
- Your government axed the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.
- Your government closed seven of nine marine science libraries in Canada.
- Your government closed the Ocean Contaminants Program, lock, stock, and barrel and fired Dr. Peter Ross, a leading world expert on the effect of pollution on marine mammals.
- Your government close the Habitat Management Program at Fisheries and Oceans Canada — but why not, since under the new gutted Fisheries Act there was no habitat to protect anyway?
- Your government fired 136 scientists from Environment Canada and cut its budget by $200 million in 2011 and $53 million more in 2012.
- Your government fired 436 scientists and professional staff at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
- Your government would rather appoint David Suzuki to the Senate than bring in a carbon tax.
The record shows that the Harperites are masters of misrepresentation. But you already knew that, didn't you?