Madam Speaker, we will try to stop using bad words, even though we are being told that we are getting caught up in a web of our own lies. That is quite something to say as well. I have to wonder if the word “lies” is unparliamentary language. Regardless, I will share my time with my colleague from Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
Once again, we are gathered here to talk about the blind cuts being made by this government. Unfortunately, some competent people who actually know about these subjects are currently leaving the room, which is too bad because I would have re-read today's motion to them:
That, in the opinion of the House, Canadian scientific and social science expertise is of great value and, therefore, the House calls on the Government to end its muzzling of scientists; to reverse the cuts to research programs at Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Library and Archives Canada, National Research Council Canada, Statistics Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; and to cancel the closures of the National Council of Welfare and the First Nations Statistical Institute.
The purpose of today's debate is to protect those people in the public service who aim to fuel the debate with objective facts and observations. It is something scientific. Several people said earlier that some people on the other side were having difficulty accepting scientific facts. I would not say that it is because a portion of them are creationists, but there are some people across the way who think that the world is flat or who thought that for some time, anyway.
Today, we wonder if some are denying certain facts deliberately. Why? Is it because of their religious views or because they have strong ties to large companies that, of course, would themselves prefer to choose environmental data analyses with results that suit them better? What is their motivation?
I do not know, but there is a reason why this is the theme of our opposition day: science generally does seem to be losing more and more ground. My colleague who is a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage was just called to order on that very issue. I do not believe that this is a topic that he tries to avoid at all costs, but he certainly has his hands full.
This man constantly has to defend the positions of the Conservatives on heritage, archives, libraries and culture, so many issues that they obviously do not care about, with the exception of an editorial line of narrow thinking and a precise reading of history, which they try to shove down our throats with a vengeance. With the exception of those two specific themes, they do not care about those issues.
But when one is the representative in the House of the people at the Department of Canadian Heritage who are responsible for those areas, when one is responsible for constantly defending those issues on behalf of a team that does not care, one is constantly busy. The Minister of Canadian Heritage said himself on TV that his team was constantly backstabbing him because he stood up for the CBC and other noble cultural issues associated with fine arts and Latin literature, in their view.
I even heard him say just now that he was very proud of cutting the ribbon at an institution. I would rather hear him talk fondly about organizations he has a connection with than talk about the cuts that the Conservatives are currently making.
But what I am really interested in, for example, is the doublespeak on Library and Archives Canada. Earlier I heard the hon. member opposite praise the merits of digitization. Of course, that probably has to do with a date in history that adds up to 21 exactly—yes, I am talking about 1812. I have no doubt that he is really interested in that because he likes numbers a lot.
All that aside, they talk about public servants who are digitizing information so that it can be shared. However, the current bill will mean that 50% of the archivists will be laid off, something that seems to me in fact to be completely illogical.
There will always be a need for archivists. Right now, the Conservatives are saying quite enthusiastically that it is marvellous to have access to information. They are patting themselves on the back and saying it is extraordinary that today culture is available on the Web, but on the other hand, they are making cuts. It seems they are taking credit for properly managing the troops, they are congratulating the archivists for their good work, but then they are telling them to get lost. That is what they are saying.
I myself went to meet with the archivists, when they were in town 10 days ago. They were completely shattered. Honestly, no one is more passionate about knowledge than the people at Library and Archives Canada. These people are only interested in the truth, in history and in facts.
No one is in a better position than they are to assess the thoughtlessness with which these cuts are being made, under a gun. Because cuts had to be made, the Conservatives just found a place where cuts could be made and they cut. What happened at that point? The cuts were not made in any visible areas, but rather in an obscure area. What happens when they do not know what it is they are cutting?
Is it not true that the most important thing in a home, or in a society is its foundation, its culture, its history? It is crucial. As we speak, we may well be in a period of restraint. We will have to find out whether things are going well in Canada, or not. We no longer know for sure, because it changes from day to day, according to our colleagues opposite.
The NDP believes that work must be done in broad daylight and that the best antiseptic is sunlight, that the best way of knowing we are doing the right thing is to do it in the open. This is something that I criticize constantly. Watching the Conservatives, we see that they work in the shadows. They decided to make cuts in places where it would not be too obvious.
It is clear that if 100 archivists showed up in a park in Ottawa, it would be a rather low-key affair. In their heart of hearts, they would rather not breathe fire, wave placards or set fire to mailboxes. They are intellectuals, they are pragmatists, and they are rational people. Of course, they will be against these cuts. There is no better target for cuts than people like them, people who usually work behind the scenes. If the government decided to cut back on snow removal because of a shortage of money, that would really be obvious. But cuts to archiving will go through like a letter in the mail—assuming there is no lockout.
I would also like to mention another very sad program. Actually, the program is not sad at all; on the contrary, it is a wonderful program. But it too was arbitrarily cut. It is called the national archival development program. What is deplorable about it is that we constantly hear from the people opposite about the value of a penny here and a penny there. But we all know the value of a dollar.
It is all a question of choice and of management. You have to know how to manage wealth creation and sharing. This is a very strange example. The national archival development program is being cut, though its main feature was getting communities involved. With each dollar invested by the federal government, people managed to interest private partners in the community so that they could organize local exhibitions and enhance local archives. But the choice was made to cut it. Once again, it was an arbitrary cut.
What is sad in all this is the short-term, panicked vision. That kind of behaviour is what scares me most at the moment. We can feel that everyone associated with the Conservative government is afraid; they are afraid of being cut and they are afraid to speak out loud and clear.
I have seen constant examples of that fear from people who have come to testify about the cuts. It can even be seen in the Prime Minister's staff.