This morning, the Conservative government announced that it would spend $5 million to upgrade the Great Lakes Forestry Centre as part of their larger commitment of $380 million investment into laboratories and research centres across Canada.
“While we are pleased to see that the government has finally taken interest and made an investment in science and research, this commitment comes after a decade of inaction on the environment and attacks on science,” said Terry Sheehan, Federal Liberal Candidate for the riding of Sault Ste. Marie.
The Conservative plan for infrastructure spending, which was released in this year’s budget, was created with more of an interest in election season optics than in actual economic benefit. Their plan will take years to implement; with very little spending and investment occurring in the present in order to make way for a generous surplus in an election year. The massive bulk of this infrastructure spending would actually occur towards the end of their plan. A government with serious intentions of infrastructure investment would not have massively cut the Building Canada Fund for infrastructure in 2014 by a whopping 87%. This announcement is a demonstration of electioneering at its finest.
“Furthermore, the Conservative funding announcement demonstrates nothing more than a gesture of goodwill that is too little too late given their extremely poor rapport with the science and environment communities. They would like the Canadian public to forget about their ongoing campaign to silence government scientists, their poor environmental record, and consistent and careless inaction towards climate change,” said Terry.
This funding is coming from the same government that has cut some 2000 government scientist positions, drastically decreased science budgets and funding, and launched a campaign to muzzle government scientists so that they are unable to share their research. Of course, let us also not forget the Conservative government’s plan to shut down the Experimental Lakes Area, a body of freshwater research stations in Northwestern Ontario.
Infrastructure spending is as much about economic benefit as it is meeting the needs and challenges associated with a changing climate and environment. The current government is providing a portion of this funding to improve energy efficiency, which is no doubt important in the face of climate change. However, the Harper Conservatives have failed to take meaningful action to address climate change for nearly a decade. Again, providing infrastructure funding for a sector that is constantly attacked by this Conservative government is nothing more than an election stunt.
Liberals have a real plan to address environmental concerns. Last month, Justin Trudeau unveiled an extensive area of our platform dedicated to REAL action when it comes to our science and environment sectors. We have vowed to revoke the rules and regulations enacted by the Conservative government to effectively muzzle our government scientists and the important work they are doing. In revoking those rules and regulations, we hope that Canadian scientists will once again be able to freely share the important research they are carrying out. We would invest in clean technology by providing $200 million annually for sector specific strategies that support innovation and clean technologies in the forestry, fisheries, mining, agriculture, and energy sectors. In addition, a Liberal government would restore the $1.5 million in federal funding for freshwater research that was cut by the Conservatives, as well as renew our commitment to protecting the Great Lakes and major bodies of water that require our attention.
“A Liberal government would also show its support for our National Parks and the scientists that conduct important research to monitor and protect them. We will increase science spending in our National Parks by $25 million per year to allow for early identification of ecological stresses and prevent permanent degradation,” says Sheehan.
Our proposed environment and science platform has been created with real change and our country’s natural beauty in mind. Our Canadian landscape and the scientists that work hard to protect it are important and we cannot envision a successful future for Canada without them. Our plan supports their work and aims to address our country’s deepest environmental concerns.