Mr. Speaker, there is growing concern about the government's lack of interest in protecting the environment. Bold claims should be matched by bold actions. Instead, we are seeing cuts that will cripple important environmental monitoring capabilities.
On September 15, I first implored the environment minister to reconsider planned cuts to ozone research. Since then, opposition members have repeatedly asked questions during question period, to which the environment minister and his parliamentary secretary have often responded by changing the subject. On Friday, questions about greenhouse gas emissions were met with a diatribe about shipbuilding, Supreme Court justices and the Wheat Board.
We can and should be doing better in addressing the legitimate concerns of Canadians regarding environmental monitoring programs needed to protect health and safety.
The known facts are that the scientists responsible for the ozonesonde network and the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre have received letters saying their jobs are in danger. Even the assistant deputy minister has told reporters that budget cuts being implemented will mean that the ozone monitoring network will be reduced.
Claims in the House that there will be no cuts to ozone monitoring do not stand up to these truths.
When will the government rescind the letters to these scientists so that they can continue work we all agree is valuable and necessary?
My party has now undertaken an online petition to stop the cuts to ozone research. It has over 3,000 signatures from concerned citizens across Canada and is growing in number by the day.
I must now ask again, on behalf of those thousands of Canadians: when will the government rescind the letters to these scientists?
In a week, I will be hosting leading experts in atmospheric research here on Parliament Hill to talk to members of Parliament and senators about ozone depletion and Canada's leadership role in ozone research. I implore members of the government to attend, listen, and ask questions. Sound policy on the environment is informed by science.
After word leaked of the cuts to ozone research, Conservatives started a campaign to track down the source of the leak and muzzle scientists. Since October 3, I have been asking that the government unmuzzle Dr. Tarasick, a senior scientist at Environment Canada, and allow him to speak of the discovery of the 2,000,000-square-kilometre ozone hole published in the prestigious journal Nature.
For 19 days, the government prevented Dr. Tarasick from talking about his own work to the media. We can and should be doing better at giving Canadians timely access to the science they have paid for.
Dr. Tarasick was finally allowed to speak on October 21. However, before the interview started, Environment Canada tried to limit the interview topics, telling Postmedia News that Dr. Tarasick would not answer questions about the impact of potential cuts to the ozone monitoring network. Although Dr. Tarasick was allowed to speak, it was clear he was not doing so freely. The public has a right to know the impact of cuts on the ozone monitoring program. There is no need to hide from the truth.