Mr. Speaker, prior to question period I was talking about bloodletting. It appears that bloodletting is not just limited to out-of-date medical procedures but is still living in on Environment Canada. The title of the document that I was reading from is called, “Environment Canada scientists told to toe the line”. Until now, Environment Canada was one of the most open and accessible departments. One of the researchers was quoted as saying “They’ve been muzzled,” says Weaver of the federal researchers. “The concept of free speech is non-existent at Environment Canada. They are manufacturing the message of science.”
This is serious stuff. I am pleased that the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands has brought forward this motion because the scientists who work for not only Environment Canada but also the rest of the federal government are under siege.
Fifty per cent of them believe that there are cases where the health and safety of Canadians or environmental sustainability has been compromised because of political interference with scientific work. There appears to be no end to which the government will go in order to muzzle scientists, even to the point of compromising the health and security of Canadians.
Seventy-one per cent of them agree that our ability to develop policy laws and programs are based on scientific evidence and that facts have been compromised by political interference, much like my bloodletting example where the ideology gets ahead of the evidence. In fact, the evidence is that when it is, it is inconveniently ignored.
Forty-eight per cent of them are aware of cases where the department or agency has suppressed or declined to release information, which has led to incomplete, inaccurate and misleading impressions.
Seventy-four per cent of them think the sharing of government science findings with the Canadian public has become too restrictive. This is serious stuff.
Finally, 60% of the scientists of Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans believe that the government is not incorporating the best climate change science into its policies.
This is not just some sort of little academic excise. Last week, after Parliament rose, the Minister of the Environment told reporters, and in effect the world, that Canada was going to reach a target in 2030 of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. That sounds like a good target. This morning she came before the committee on estimates and I asked her a very simple question. Could she state that 30% target in actual megatonnes? It was quite interesting. The deputy minister immediately took over the question, did not let the minister speak, and went into this rather complicated story of how this was a bit of a moving target. I agree with him that it is a moving target. This simple little lawyer asked himself: how can we actually state a 30% reduced target if we do not know what the number of the megatonnes to be achieved is? It is hard to say. It may be 20%, it may 40%, or it may be no per cent at all.
It is quite strange. We are starting with a target of 749 megatonnes as of 2005. Simple math would take that down by 30%, which is somewhere between 150 megatonnes and 200 megatonnes. One would think it would be easy to say that we expect to have a target somewhere in the order of 550 megatonnes by 2030. However, the environment minister is not even able to say that. Nor is the the deputy minister.
This is either the result of the inability of Environment Canada to actually calculate the number or it is a result of the inability of Environment Canada to communicate the number. If in fact the number were stated in public as to what our megatonne target was in terms of greenhouse gas emissions reduction, then Canadians from all provinces, all stripes, would know whether this was a realistic target and would know how the government planned to get to this target.
This exercise in talking about how scientists are muzzled is very serious. It is very serious because policy is being made, being announced, and what is it based upon? The government chooses, for whatever reason, to not put forward evidence on which to base its decision-making process. The consequence is that we have fantasy targets. The government's credibility is completely shot on this file and many others, and the consequence of the consequence, if you will, Mr. Speaker, is that ideology prevails, communication and speaking points prevail over all matters, and with respect to evidence, who cares? That is simply inconvenient.
I thank the House for the time and attention. I appreciate the opportunity to speak. I look forward to questions from members.