1st Session, 41st Parliament – June 18, 2012

Hon. Grant Mitchell:

“As an aside, the Leader of the Government in the Senate just said the nicest thing I have ever heard her say about me. In fact, it may be the only nice thing she has ever said about me, that I actually have technical expertise. I thank her very much for that. I appreciate it. We clearly had a weekend off. Everyone is relaxed and having a good time.

I do not mean to break the mood, honourable senators, but back to the question of priorities and the fact is that the government is putting $30 million into glorifying war through its War of 1812 project. However, it is getting $2 million of that money by closing down the Experimental Lakes Area program, a unique internationally renowned outdoor laboratory for ecosystem research. Scientist John Smol from Queen’s University said:

Some countries have large particle accelerators. We have the Experimental Lakes Area.

For $2 million of the $30 million that is going into the War of 1812 project, we are losing this remarkable resource. Has anyone in this government done a cost-benefit analysis to see if forfeiting $2 million in favour of $30 million for the War of 1812 project will pay off? Will we make up the high-level intellectual jobs, the internationally renowned contribution we can make to eco-study, or will we just throw the money away on the glorification of a war that is 200 years old?”

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):

“Honourable senators, I take issue with Senator Mitchell calling it the glorification of war. One of the criticisms about Canadians is that we do not know enough about our history. The War of 1812 is a very important part of our history and the formation of our country.

As I indicated to Senator Dallaire, each department is advanced money for the implementation of its programs. One of the responsibilities of Heritage Canada is educating Canadians about our history.

With regard to the Experimental Lakes Area, the science remains essential. Through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada will continue to conduct important research on Canada’s fish and their habitat. Research in fresh water will continue at various locations across Canada in response to departmental needs. We are continuing our work to transfer this facility to a university or another non-governmental research group.

The work will continue. Many universities and research groups are moving into these areas. In the past, the government had to go it alone, but now we have scientific research facilities and other people who contribute to this.”

Senator Mitchell:

“Honourable senators, it is estimated that it will cost about $25 million to do the site remediation that will be necessary for this lake system when this facility is shut down and vacated. Has anybody given any thought to the fact that saving $2 million now will end up costing $25 million tomorrow? Would that money not have been better spent sustaining this project and its important scientific research into the importance of the ecosystem, or is it simply: “No data, no science, no problem”? Is that the new motto of this government?”

Senator LeBreton:

“The honourable senator is incorrect. Since 2006 we have invested in science to update and refit laboratories, to construct three new science vessels and to complete ocean mapping for Canada’s Law of the Sea submission, as well as funded science to support emerging commercial fishing in the Arctic. Budget 2012 announced further investments to support fisheries science, to improve mapping of key coastal ecosystems and to do research on marine pollution.

The honourable senator is incorrect to claim that we are not doing a considerable amount of work in this area.”