May 26, 2015

LIB

Marc Garneau

Liberal

Mr. Marc Garneau (Westmount—Ville-Marie, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood.

Let me start by summarizing very simply what our motion is today: one, we must stop muzzling our federal scientists; two, with few exceptions, we must make publicly funded government research readily available to the public, after all, they pay for it; and, three, we must create the position of chief science officer to ensure that the results of publicly funded research are made available to Canadians through some kind of central portal.

I have to say today that there is an element of the absurd in the very fact that we should have to present this motion to the Parliament of Canada. Who would have thought that in a country like Canada, muzzling scientists would be an issue?

Today, we are talking about science. For those who like definitions, the Canadian Oxford defines science as:

1. The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. 2. Systematic and formulated knowledge, esp. of a specified type or on a specified subject.

I dare say that I know enough about science to know what it is. I conducted research during my career. As president of the Canadian Space Agency, I was in charge of federal scientists and their research.

First and foremost, science is neutral. It is simply looking for answers. The results of good scientific research are just that: results. It is up to us to characterize those results as good or bad. Science naturally leads to discovery. That discovery informs us and sometimes allows us to find solutions to our problems. For instance, it can help us find a life-saving drug.

However, science plays another role and that is to inform us. Sometimes science gives us good news and sometimes it gives us bad news. If the news is bad, then we have to do something about it.

For example, we may learn that certain fish stocks are at risk of being completely depleted and that we must impose a moratorium on fishing certain species, or that smoking causes cancer and that we need to educate the public on the hazards of smoking, or that global warming is occurring due to the increase in the human production of greenhouse gases.

All of this comes out of scientific research. The examples I have given you are examples of bad news. However, I believe we would all agree that it is just as important to hear the bad news as it is the good news. That is why scientific research is so important. That is why scientific results must absolutely guide our deliberations as lawmakers, and why we must legislate based on the best possible scientific evidence available to us. We owe that to Canadians. That is not what is happening with the current government.

This government denied global warming for a long time and some Conservatives still deny it, although they do not dare to say so publicly. Some have called it a “social conspiracy”. Those very words escaped the lips of the Prime Minister. Apparently, this conspiracy is driven by a Canadian anti-oil cabal.

We certainly know that federal scientists at Environment Canada cannot discuss or publish their research without the minister's consent. It is also quite clear to us that the government did not react to the scientific results that clearly indicate that we must take action to deal with greenhouse gases.

If my colleagues do not believe that Canadian scientists are being muzzled, then they should consult the most prestigious scientific journal in the world, Nature. They will find two editorials that openly criticize the Canadian government for muzzling our federal scientists.

As we all know, this government got rid of the mandatory long form census. We are all well aware of the results. I was at the committee hearings when the government decided to eliminate this form. Hundreds of groups told us the same thing: it made no sense to get rid of the most important database used to formulate our social policies in Canada.

As members know, the response rate, which used to be 93%, has fallen to 68%. The 32% who do not fill out the form are the people we should be following because they are the ones most in need of social measures.

This is the government that stopped funding the Experimental Lakes Area. This was an internationally recognized scientific laboratory that allowed Canada initially to study the effects of acid rain and later on to look at such things as the effect of phosphates flowing into our water systems, these kinds of things. Everybody agreed that this was very important for Canada. However, the government did not share that feeling and decided it would stop financing it. Fortunately the Government of Ontario was able to use its funding, demonstrated the necessary understanding of the importance of the Experimental Lakes Area and we still have it today.

This is the government that got rid of the national science advisor. The previous Prime Minister of this country, Mr. Martin had put in place a scientific advisor to advise Canadians and in particular to have the Prime Minister's ear about the importance of science in this country. Obviously the current Prime Minister did not share that opinion, and first of all demoted him to report to the Minister of Industry. Then the Minister of Industry got rid of him.

This is the government that initially decided to stop funding Arctic research on ozone depletion, something that very much affects Canadians living in the far north of this country.

This is the government that refuses to recognize that scientific research related to crime and detention is important. This is a government that prefers to just lock up everyone and throw away the key.

This is a government that does not recognize the importance of social sciences and the value that they bring to us in terms of formulating policy in the government.

This is a government that devalues the importance of basic or fundamental research. This government focuses on applied research whenever it sees a commercial return, but it does not feel that basic or fundamental research is important.

This is a short-sighted view of the importance of science. This is playing God with the decisions about what science is important. It has proven time and again to be wrong.

In conclusion, science is an extremely important tool that guides us in our decision-making as legislators. We must share research results, whether they are good or bad. We must take action especially when the results are bad. We must definitely allow our scientists to speak freely about their research and publish it. They should not have to ask for permission to do so, except in some very exceptional cases. Finally, federal research should be shared with as many Canadians as possible. After all, they are the ones paying for it. To that end, we propose to create the position of chief science officer to ensure that government science is available to all Canadians through a central portal.

I hope that the government listened carefully to us today and that it will accept this motion, which is very important not just to the future of the country and our scientists, but also to policy-making.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
CPC

Dave Van Kesteren

Conservative

Mr. Dave Van Kesteren (Chatham-Kent—Essex, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' 2002 communications policy says the following about policy advisors, program managers, and other functional specialists, including researchers:

Their supervisors must ensure that the head of communications, or his or her designate, is consulted on all activities and initiatives involving communication with the public or which have implications for an institution's internal communications.

Further, it states that “Ministers are the principal spokespersons of the Government of Canada”.

Does the member agree with the policy put forth by the Liberals?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
LIB

Marc Garneau

Liberal

Mr. Marc Garneau

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about apples and oranges here. I can tell the member that as president of the Canadian Space Agency, I would never have dared to question the scientific results and publications that my scientists wanted to put forward. They had the intellectual freedom to do so.

That does not mean that we do not check to make sure there is not proprietary information, privacy information, that there are not certain security implications. We would not have a problem with that.

However, when somebody wants to publish research that may be critical of the government, which has definitely been the case with the Conservative government, it is going against what should be allowed in this country, which is the freedom to publish scientific research for better or for worse.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
NDP

Craig Scott

New Democratic Party

Mr. Craig Scott (Toronto—Danforth, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my question relates to the subclause and reference to creating a chief science officer. I wonder if my colleague could let us know whether this is intended to be the same as the parliamentary science officer that my colleague from Burnaby—Douglas proposed in Bill C-558.

Is there a distinction between the chief science officer and the parliamentary science officer? Is it the intention that the chief science officer would be within government, or would that position be an officer of parliament?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
LIB

Marc Garneau

Liberal

Mr. Marc Garneau

Mr. Speaker, I cannot answer the question directly, in the sense that we have not fleshed out a definition or mandate for this chief scientific officer other than the principal mandate we describe in the motion. That is to make sure that federally funded scientific research would be effectively and efficiently made available to Canadians through a central portal so that they have access to it.

Whether or not we add other duties, and whether those duties are similar to the ones presented by the member's colleague from the NDP or they go in the direction of the national science advisor, which we created back in 2004 under the previous prime minister, is subject to discussion. Certainly it is something that could possibly be done.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have a question regarding the government's attitude, and particularly the Prime Minister's attitude, toward organizations with staff who have been fired, forced out, and publicly maligned, and those who have resigned in protest.

To give a list, there is the Canadian firearms program director general, Marty Cheliak; Adrian Measner from the Canadian Wheat Board; Linda Keen from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission; Richard Colvin from foreign affairs ; Peter Tinsley, who was the head of the Military Police Complaints Commission; Yves Côté, who was the ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces; former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page; and Paul Kennedy, who was the chair of the commission for public complaints regarding the RCMP.

We all know that the member is a scientist himself and Canada's first astronaut. There is a sense with the Government of Canada that one is either onside and does not talk about science in Canada, or one is quiet and muzzled and not allowed to share concerns with members of the media or Canadians as a whole.

Could the member provide some comment on that?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
LIB

Marc Garneau

Liberal

Mr. Marc Garneau

Mr. Speaker, I remember when I was a young parliamentarian—yes, I was young at one time—about six and a half years ago, that Linda Keen, who was the nuclear safety commissioner, was chased out of her job because she dared to make certain recommendations as part of her mandate which the government did not agree with.

He certainly outlined a very long list of people who were basically chased out of office during the past six or seven years. It is almost a routine occurrence. It speaks volumes about the government. There is the example of science which may be critical of the government. In the case of the environment, because the government is not doing its job, when it does not like the news that those who speak to power are giving, it chases them out. It demonizes them. It gets rid of them. Unfortunately, that is what is going to happen and has happened with some of our scientists.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton)

Before we get to resuming debate and the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood, I will let him know that there are about four minutes remaining in the time before we have to start statements by members. We will get started just the same, and I will have to interrupt him part way through. However, he will have the remaining time when the House next resumes debate, presumably later this day.

The hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
LIB

John McKay

Liberal

Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I doubt that if you sought it you would have unanimous consent to make me go for the 10 minutes.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
LIB

John McKay

Liberal

Hon. John McKay

I have some consent here, but there does not seem to be much consent elsewhere.

There are some resplendent ironies in discussing this motion on a day where The Globe and Mail carried the obituary of Dr. David Sackett. He is known as the father of evidence-based medicine at McMaster University. He was Canada's guru on evidence-based medicine.

If one does not function on evidence-based medicine, one sometimes does exactly the opposite of what one needs to do. The classic example in the medical field is the death of George Washington. The death of George Washington, a relatively healthy man, happened in the course of about 16 to 24 hours. In the course of those hours, he was attended upon by the best physicians that country had to offer, all of whom made their decisions based on practice, what they had done in the past. They were not based on evidence but on what they had done in the past.

One of the practices was bloodletting. Over the course of 16 hours, they drained five pints of blood from the first president of the United States. If he was not sick before, he certainly would have been sick afterwards. He died. This was a practice that was not based on evidence. If we continue to make practices and decisions based upon something other than evidence, for example, ideology, we will actually kill the patient, as in the case of medicine.

That is my view of what is happening here. We have instances where environmental scientists are told to toe the line. Therefore, just as we have one department, one website, we should have one department and one voice. That was the edict that was published by the Department of the Environment in 2007, so that all inquiries of scientists would be funnelled through the political department of the minister at that time.

Environment Canada scientists, many of them world leaders in their fields, have long been encouraged to discuss their work with the media and the public, on everything from migratory birds to melting Arctic ice. Several of them were co-authors of the United Nations report on climate change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Until now, Environment Canada has been one of the most open and accessible departments. As a consequence, because decisions are not shared widely, because there is not an opportunity for the scientists to discuss them, the decisions made at Environment Canada, and elsewhere in the government, are not optimum. After question period, I would like to give some classic examples of these decisions.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton)

The hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood will have six minutes remaining for his comments when the House next returns to the debate on the question, and of course the usual five minutes for questions and comments.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Federal Science Research
Permalink
BQ

Louis Plamondon

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, last week, the National Assembly of Quebec adopted a unanimous motion refusing to accept any further federal interference in areas under municipal jurisdiction, which is what the NDP has committed to doing.

Whether we are talking about a department or a minister of municipal or urban affairs, it is the same thing. It all falls under Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction.

In the 1970s, the Liberals created a similar department of urban affairs. Quebec and the other provinces fought tooth and nail to defend their exclusive jurisdiction in that area, and the department was dismantled a few years later.

Quebec has always strongly defended its areas of jurisdiction. It will not let the federal government infringe on its jurisdiction, regardless of which party is in power.

The NDP wants to interfere and bypass the Parliament of Quebec in order to implement a pan-Canadian strategy in areas under Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction and centralize everything in Ottawa.

Working for Quebec means accepting the fact that Quebec is a nation.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Intergovernmental Relations
Permalink
CPC

Mike Wallace

Conservative

Mr. Mike Wallace (Burlington, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, today is Diabetes Day on the Hill. I have type 2 diabetes. Representatives from the Canadian Diabetes Association are on the Hill meeting with various members of Parliament to bring awareness and to discuss how diabetes affects their lives and families.

Here are a few statistics. There are 3.4 million Canadians who have diabetes and 5.7 million Canadians who are pre-diabetic. The estimated cost of diabetes in Canada is $14 billion. I am proud to say that our government has invested approximately $334 million toward diabetes research. We also support the prevention of diabetes by investing close to $20 million a year in partnerships that promote healthy living and prevent chronic diseases like diabetes.

Please join us at 4:00 in room 216N for the Sir Frederick Banting presentation. He was a great Canadian who discovered insulin. I invite all members to sign the Diabetes Charter of Canada to support Canadians in achieving their full health potential.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Diabetes Day on the Hill
Permalink
NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough—Rouge River, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, summer is coming and too many people across Canada, especially our young people, are looking for jobs and not finding them.

I fought for the youth in my community and was able to get additional funding for the Canada summer jobs program in Scarborough—Rouge River. Though this is a small victory for our young people, we need to do more for all who are suffering from the low level of good jobs in Scarborough. Our community has been robbed by cuts in the manufacturing industry, cuts that have replaced secure, good jobs with jobs that are temporary, part-time, and low-paying. Next weekend I am hosting a discussion and job fair with local stakeholders and employers who are creating job opportunities in the Scarborough community.

The current Conservative government has made empty promises about support programs and job creation, promises that have not delivered in our communities. Instead the promises reflect an irresponsible system, incompetence, and failure in addressing the important issue of unemployment.

Canadians deserve a government that delivers on promises, makes the economy work for all, and works hard for the well-being of youth. We need good jobs in Scarborough. We need a government that will create good jobs in all of our communities. That government will be the New Democratic government to be formed later this year in October.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Employment
Permalink
CPC

Ted Opitz

Conservative

Mr. Ted Opitz (Etobicoke Centre, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate the Republic of Poland on the recent presidential election. This month's election proves how far Poland has progressed since democracy was restored almost 26 years ago.

This election recalls Poland's strong democratic tradition, which dates back to 1793, when Poland became the first European country to adopt a written constitution.

I would like to congratulate president-elect Andrzej Duda on his electoral victory, and I wish him a successful term as president. I would also like to congratulate outgoing president Bronislaw Komorowski on his successful term as president and for his graciousness in defeat, and I congratulate the people of Poland for exercising their democratic franchise.

Poland is a great historical ally of Canada, and I am proud that our troops are serving side by side today on Operation Reassurance.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Democracy in Poland
Permalink
LIB

Lawrence MacAulay

Liberal

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Mr. Miles Matheson, a lifetime servant of his community, province, and country.

Born in 1927 in Forest Hill, Prince Edward Island, Mr. Matheson served his country overseas, taking part in the liberation of France, Belgium, and Holland. He was awarded many medals and honours for his service, including the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medal for Britain, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and clasp, the War Medal, and, more recently, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Mr. Matheson was recently awarded the highest honour of the country of France, the rank of Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour, for his role in liberating that country.

On behalf of all members of the House of Commons, I offer Miles Matheson our thanks for his many years of service to this great country and I congratulate him on such a distinguished honour.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   World War II Veteran
Permalink
CPC

Joyce Bateman

Conservative

Ms. Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, this weekend I had the distinct pleasure of attending Table for 1201, the second edition of the pop-up dinner that took place at another exquisite setting in our city, beautiful Winnipeg.

This spectacular event, organized by Storefront Manitoba with the help of Deer and Almond and Diversity Food Services, was again a great success and brought people together in the spirit of design.

It was a fabulous opportunity to come together and enjoy great food and friends with 1201 guests gathered to share a meal. We enjoyed a beautiful summer night and spent an evening focusing on the great design culture that is growing in Winnipeg.

Each table's captain played an amazing part in the creative presentation. I thank them for their hard work and I congratulate the competition winners.

Congratulations to all involved and to all who attended an incredible event. I am already looking forward to next year.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Table for 1201 Dinner
Permalink
NDP

Tyrone Benskin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Tyrone Benskin (Jeanne-Le Ber, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, diabetes is an insidious disease. Like cancer, it can eat away at our bodies, but unlike cancer, diabetes is preventable.

The incidences of obesity, inactivity, and unhealthy eating habits are at an all-time high in our communities. We have sacrificed the future health of our children for the sake of convenience and we have clouded the adverse effects of additives, such as salt and sugar, despite the detrimental effects they have on our health.

Today, on Parliament Hill, we are fortunate to welcome representatives from several organizations dedicated to promoting awareness of diabetes. I invite all of my colleagues to take the time to learn about the extraordinary work being done to fight this disease and, especially, to support this work in the future.

We are nothing without our health.

A cure for diabetes is possible, with the right resources and the right attitude.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Diabetes Day on the Hill
Permalink
CPC

Mark Warawa

Conservative

Mr. Mark Warawa (Langley, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, Acts of Kindness is a Langley community-based tradition that was started by the Aldergrove Seventh-day Adventist Church 12 years ago.

Acts of Kindness has been doing extreme home repairs to Aldergrove homes of families in need. The renovations are worth up to $100,000 each. The extreme home repairs are performed by volunteers over the two weeks before the Victoria Day holiday. Then the families are brought home for the big reveal.

The homes selected this year were for the Canessa family and the Shufflebotham family. Water leaks through the stucco exterior of the Canessas' home had caused mould problems inside. This repair also included new paintwork inside and out, electrical upgrades, and a new gas fireplace.

The Shufflebothams' home needed wheelchair access to the entire home, so the repairs included raising a sunken living room. The bedrooms were remodelled, and the home was painted inside and out. Other repairs included electrical upgrades and a new gas fireplace.

Thanks to Aldergrove Seventh-day Adventist Church and all of the wonderful volunteers for their incredible acts of kindness to those in need.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Acts of Kindness in Langley
Permalink

May 26, 2015