Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate that members on the other side would be somewhat sensitive, even surprised in terms of the length of the list. Given that I have a limited amount of time, I appreciate the advice and maybe I should move on. However, members should keep in mind that this is all about the muzzling that takes place within the current government.
It is a long list, and somewhat of a dated list, but I applaud the member for standing up to point out that it is indeed a very long list. He should share with his caucus colleagues the profound impact that the Conservative government has had, in a negative way, on Canada's civil service and non-profit organizations in every region of our country by the message that it continues to send out. That message is primarily that if a person is not onside with the Government of Canada, the Conservatives do not want them to say anything and they should keep their mouth shut. That is the gag order, and we see that extensively.
My colleague, the mover of the motion, the member for Kingston and the Islands, put forward a wonderful question today in question period to the minister responsible for the Treasury Board. It was a straight-up question, and one would think he would have had a fairly simple answer, but he did not. It is amazing.
Here is the question that was posed by my colleague: “Mr. Speaker, PIPSC, the union representing government scientists, is asking for an unprecedented scientific integrity package in its collective bargaining agreement. Rather than asking for a raise, they are asking the government to unmuzzle science. They are explicitly seeking protection from “coercion to alter their data”.
It has to be a first in Canada. We have scientists coming together, who are so concerned that this has to be a part of the negotiations. It has to be a first.
My hon. colleague for Kingston and the Islands then said: “Canadians need to trust that government policies to keep us safe and healthy are based on objective evidence that has not been altered for partisan ends. Will the President of the Treasury Board agree to this no-cost ask in upcoming contract negotiations?”
I underline “no-cost” because I know Conservatives like to hear that. As some have implied through their heckles, one would think it would be a no-brainer and it would be a simple yes, but I invite members of the Conservative caucus to read Hansard. They might be a little disappointed in regard to the government's continual refusal to recognize the important role that Canada's scientists play, in many different ways.
I would like to give a very specific example that has had a profound impact, not only on my province but I would argue beyond Manitoba, in fact on all of Canada. If we listen to what some of the international scientists were saying, the impact has been felt around the world.
Canada has a great deal of fresh water. We are one of the countries that has been truly blessed with the amount of fresh water we have as a natural resource. When we think of the future and future generations, we in the Liberal Party do not believe that our grandchildren should have to deal with the problems. Where we can deal with the problems today, we should do that and show leadership.
The example I will give is the Experimental Lakes Area project. At a relatively small cost, into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, we had a wonderful facility. We still do, but not because of the Conservative government. This wonderful facility was providing world-class research on fresh waters and so much more.
The Government of Canada in its wisdom, or lack thereof, made the decision that it is no longer going to fund the Environmental Lakes Area. It was prepared to ultimately see it completely disappear. Quite frankly, if it were not for the Wynne government in Ontario, I suspect that it might not be there. It took another provincial government to come in and support this project.
I had the opportunity to talk with many people in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and other places, with respect to this issue. I brought forward petitions to the government.
The government will spend $750 million on government advertising. I do not recall one ad from that $750 million worth of advertising saying that the government is going to stop the funding of a few hundred thousand dollars to the environmental lakes in Manitoba and Ontario. That is very important research that was being done there. There was not a word.
It became the role of the scientists to raise the concerns and the protests to ensure that everyone was aware of what the Government of Canada was doing.
One would think that when Canadians started to react, the government would have at least been more sympathetic to the needs of the research facility and how the world benefited by the research taking place there. One would think that would have been an absolute given. It was not with this government, and not under this current leadership. That is unfortunate.
I think if we were to canvass the Liberal caucus member by member, they would be able to come up with examples in virtually every region of our country where the government has not been proactive in promoting and encouraging research. It is research and development and science that has so much potential in terms of creating jobs, improving our environment, health care. There is so much that can be done, yet we have a government that has turned a deaf ear to the situation and the needs of that particular community. It has happened at a very significant cost.
One of the earlier speakers talked about Canada's GDP and the impact it has on GDP. That is true. Compare the amount of research that we do today to what we have done on a per capita basis in other countries around the world. We often make reference to the OECD. At one time, and we have to go back to the Chrétien era, we would have been virtually the first of the OECD. Today we do not even rank within the OECD. We have dropped that far behind. One would think that the government would recognize that it has dropped the ball.
It is more than just economics, even though the economics would be nice. These are all good quality jobs, and the potential spinoffs are phenomenal.
If the government only recognized that there is a moral responsibility to encourage that research, to financially support it, what would actually happen?
I made a quick note of a number of points. I suspect we could use even more scientists at work in terms of developing research papers. Think of the issue of climate change. When we think of climate change, one of the things that comes to mind for many Manitobans is the issue of flooding. Flooding is a very serious issue in Manitoba, and it always has been, especially in the last decade.
I was a member of the Manitoba legislature when we had the big flood of 1997. Over five decades ago, it was the Progressive Conservatives who brought in what we called Duff's Ditch, which circles half of Winnipeg, to divert water. Flooding is a very serious issue, but it is not only in Manitoba. We have seen flooding occur in all provinces in one form or another. Natural disasters have occurred.
Only the government believes that there is no such thing as climate change. Climate change is real. It is there. Scientists will tell us that. The government does not like scientists telling us that. It does not want to know the facts on the issue, and one has to wonder why.
We talk about the issue of overfishing. Whether it is in the Atlantic, the Pacific, Churchill, and even our inland freshwater deposits in Canada, we all have a vested interest in ensuring that fish are going to be there for future generations. I will sidestep a swipe at the Minister of Finance's comment in regard to letting grandchildren deal with it.
We can deal with those issues. How do we deal with those issues? We rely on our scientists. Canada has some of the best, I would argue. I am a little biased, but we have the best scientists in the world. We should be very proud of the work they are doing. Not only should we be encouraging it, I would suggest we should be allowing them to talk about it. They should be able to talk with the media. They should be able to share among their peers. That is how they develop their ideas and bring it to the next level.
There is so much we could talk about in regard to the motion. Think of prescription drugs, health care, many different issues that are vitally important to our social fabric and lifestyle. Think of the economics and the leadership that Canada could play if it had a government that understood the benefits of taking off the muzzle and allowing our scientists to speak the truth on facts. What is there to hide?
Take the leader of the Liberal Party's ideas, as I pointed out with Bill C-613, and make it the default. Allow scientists in Canada to be heard, and maybe we will get more of our scientists wanting to stay in Canada. We know they have a passion for Canada and they want to be here, but they want their ideas to be heard and expanded upon.