The Harper government does not seem to acknowledge any science that is inconvenient to its industry friendly agenda. At the Conservative Convention in 2013 Steven Harper said, “In this party we will not accept that environmental protection must stop economic development.” The United Nations Climate Change Conference awarded Canada the, ‘Fossil of the Year Award,’ 6 years in a row under Stephen Harper because of his efforts to put industrial interests ahead of concerns over the environment. National policy has to be made based on science, not on an industrial agenda. In 2012 the Conservatives dismantled the Navigable Waters Protection Act. This major policy change was tucked into a 400 page omnibus budget bill, and was based on advice received from the ‘Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.’ It means that more that 2 million rivers and lakes are no longer protected and do not require an environmental assessment if a pipeline is going to go through them.
The conservative government has tried to shut down a number of world class environmental research stations in Canada, including the PEARL Observatory, ‘Polar Environmental Research Laboratory.’ This station located at the 80 parallel in Nunavut, was the most northern research station in the world, recording the extreme effects of arctic climate change. It has gone from year round observations, to having scientists drop in for a week several times a year. The Conservatives also tried to close ELA, the ‘Experimental Lakes Area’ which has been running studies on lakes in North Western Ontario since 1969. This is the only place on the planet which is engaged in such large scale research on how a whole ecosystem is affected by human caused problems such as acid rain, or phosphates, or climate change. World policies on curbing acid rain, and restricting the use of phosphates in detergents have been made directly as a result of studies at ELA. This facility is now open only because of a national and international outcry, and the Ontario provincial government, which stepped in to cover all the cost of running the facilities for the next few years. To say these facilities, and many other environmental research centers around the country are being shut down as a cost saving measure is silly, PEARL cost 1.5 million to run for a year, ELA cost 2 million.
The Harper Conservatives have implemented policies that make it mandatory for federal scientists to have all communication with the main stream media pre-approved by government handlers. This attempt to suppress scientific results on climate change and the environment, is counterbalanced with a $24 million dollar public relations campaign over the next 2 years to promote the oil sands as environmentally responsible. The 24 million dollar white wash campaign says, “Here in Canada we’re pretty good at this.” as it pans across wild grasses planted in topsoil laid over top of a dried up, but still toxic, tailings pond. There has to be more thought for future repercussions when we are planning how to develop our natural resources. The current “I want it all now,” attitude is not rational, and it is not sustainable. If we Canadians do not develop our resources in a responsible way, the environmental costs will not go away, they will be passed down with compound interest to the next generation.