On the "Rick Mercer Report," the CBC comedian attacked Harper and the Tories for shutting down the Experimental Lakes research station (ELA) in Ontario and for the party's attitude towardsscience and scientists.
"It has been suggested that the Harper government, previously known as the Government of Canada, dislikes science," Mercer said. "Now I never really bought into this, but I’m starting to come around. Although I figure they can't be against all scientists, just scientists that study things that don’t matter — like water."
Mercer then laid out some of details behind the government's decision to shut down the ELA in March of 2013.
"Now to be fair to the Prime Minister, as far as scientists go they’re probably the very worst. I mean think about it. They’re up there living in tents and shacks, with their big bushy beards, eating mung beans out of Mason jars trying to figure out what different chemicals will do to our drinking water," Mercer joked. "You know, they're the people who figured out the acid rain problem. And now the Harper government is closing them down to save money. How much money? Two million dollars a year. But here’s the kicker — It will cost $50 million to shut them down. Wow! Someone really doesn't like fresh water."
Mercer is far from the first to criticize the Conservatives for shutting down the ELA. In a blog post for HuffPost in July, David Suzuki cited the move as proof Harper prefers fake lakes to real ones, referencing the infamous fake lake pavilion for the Muskoka G8 meeting in 2010.
The NDP also roundly denounced the closure when it was announced. Fisheries critic Robert Chisholm said the "decision represents death by a thousand cuts to our scientific community."
The Tories have also been taking fire of late on another water issue, this one related to the government's second piece of omnibus budget implementation legislation, Bill C-45.
The Navigable Waters Protection Act is being changed in the bill so it will apply to fewer bodies of water, in what the Tories say is a bid to make the system more efficient. The NDP have relentlessly attacked the Conservatives on the issue in question period since the bill was introduced.
The NDP was also quick to criticize alterations made to the government's own "Frequently Asked Questions" regarding the changes to the Act. The website FAQs originally stated the changes reflect the government's "ongoing concern towards maintaining the safety of public navigation and the environment," but the word environment was subsequently removed, something NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair called "Orwellian."
The Tories have maintained the Act has nothing to do with the environment and that the word was mistakenly included on the website.
The conclusion of Mercer's rant leaves little to mistake regarding his stance on protecting Canada's water.
"When I think about what makes Canada great, fresh water is right at the top of the list. We have over two million lakes in this country and more than enough people who are willing to mess with them," Mercer said. "My Canada includes weird scientists who are devoted to keeping our water clean. When we stand up and we sing O Canada, we pledge to stand on guard for thee. If that doesn't include our water, we might as well sit down and give up."
With files from The Canadian Press
Related on HuffPost:
Drink First Thing
"Place a glass of water by your bed and drink it first thing when you get up," suggests Keri Gans, M.S., R.D., a nutrition spokesperson and author of "The Small Changes Diet," in an email to The Huffington Post. Try drinking it <a href="http://www.health.com/health/library/topic/0,,abk5466_abk5467,00.html" target="_hplink">before your usual coffee or tea</a>. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jkonig/2168435597/" target="_hplink">JKÃ¶nig</a></em>
Sip At Your Desk
Keep a reusable cup or bottle at your desk. When it's empty, go refill it. It's a great way to fit in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/sitting_n_1202800.html" target="_hplink">more steps during the day</a>, too! <br><br> Neglecting the bottle? "Put a sticky note on your computer to remind you to drink up," says Gans. If that <em>still</em> doesn't work, try setting a reminder alarm on your phone or calendar. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcestnik/3889059326/" target="_hplink">jennypdx</a></em>
Bring Water To Go
If you don't have a desk job, or even if you do, toss a water bottle in your bag to sip while you're out and about, says Gans. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/4105822390/" target="_hplink">Ed Yourdon</a></em>
Drink Before You Eat
When you sit down to a meal, have a glass or two of water before you start to eat. Not only can it serve as a reminder to drink more, but a 2010 study found that drinking <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100823142929.htm" target="_hplink">two glasses before meals</a> helped people lose five pounds more over 12 weeks than people who did not increase their water intake. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/earlg/237204111/" target="_hplink">Earl</a></em>
Dilute Your Juice
If you're the type of person who'd rather reach for a sweet sip than plain ol' water, you don't have to cut out juice cold turkey. Instead, Gans recommends filling 1/4 of your glass with 100 percent fruit juice, then topping it off with water or seltzer. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/73981677@N00/5401688691/" target="_hplink">badoir</a></em>
Skip The Soda
If you find yourself reaching for a soda or other sweet drink that isn't 100 percent fruit juice, use that craving as a reminder instead to grab a glass of H2O. And if you can't quit those bubbles? "Seltzer counts as water," says Gans. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/spencereholtaway/1412762050/" target="_hplink">Spencer E Holtaway</a></em>
Give Your Water Some Flavor
Still can't get over the bland taste? "Use fresh fruit or veggies to flavor your water," says Gans. Cucumber, lemon, lime and watermelon are tasty options, she says, and high in water themselves. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/riekhavoc/4665442112/" target="_hplink">Kaytee Riek</a></em>
Track Your Intake
Just as <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708080738.htm" target="_hplink">keeping a food diary</a> can help you key into what and when you're eating, tracking your water intake can similarly shine a light on where you could fit in more fluids. There's even <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/waterlogged-drink-more-water/id352199775?mt=8" target="_hplink">an app for that</a>! <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/765880039/" target="_hplink">Steve Rhodes</a></em>
10. Wearing Your Jeans
<strong>The issue:</strong> Who would have thought that being a fashionista could take such a toll on the environment? Unfortunately, according to the <em>Indian Textile Journal</em>, <a href="http://www.indiantextilejournal.com/articles/FAdetails.asp?id=2420 " target="_hplink">the textile industry is one of the biggest creators of wastewater</a> worldwide. The EPA claims that it takes 2,900 gallons of water to <a href="ehttp://blog.epa.gov/blog/2010/06/14/my-jeans-are-very-thirsty/" target="_hplink">produce one pair of jeans</a>. Most of the water is used in the "<a href="http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/publications/assistance/sectors/notebooks/textilsn.pdf" target="_hplink">wet processing</a>" and dyeing of materials. <strong>The fix: </strong>The industry itself is making strides in cutting down their waste. <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/cutting-water-use-in-the-textile-industry/ " target="_hplink">According to the <em>New York Times</em></a>, companies are using innovative measures to combat wastewater, such as <a href="http://www.airdye.com/" target="_hplink">AirDye</a> technology and counter-current rinsing. Still, there is a long way to go. One way that you can cut down on textile waste is to reuse and recycle. Need a pair of jeans? Check out Goodwill, or a nearby consignment shop. Want a bright red shirt? Buy a <a href="http://www.cottonique.com/pages/dye-free-resin-free " target="_hplink">dye-free light material,</a> and color the shirt yourself.
9. Taking A Dip In Your Pool
<strong>The issue:</strong> For those who live through tortuous summer heat, nothing can beat a refreshing, chlorinated backyard pool. But sadly, this high-temp weather respite can be a source of major water loss. Besides the amount of water initially needed to fill a pool, cement cracks and evaporation can lead to almost double the original amount of water being used. According to the National Leak Foundation of Mesa, <a href="http://www.mesaaz.gov/conservation/pdf/pool_info_2010.pdf ," target="_hplink">30% of pools have leaks in them</a>, many of which go unnoticed due to an automatic refilling mechanism. In addition, evaporation is a major problem in arid environments (like the Southwest). During the hottest summer days in the driest climates, a 400 square foot surface area pool can lose over 2,500 gallons of water in one month! <strong>The fix:</strong> The best plan is to forgo the private pool in favor of a public one at a park or private club. If you do want to keep your backyard pool, make sure to check carefully for leaks in your liner and cracks underwater. In addition, always put a cover on when it's not being used, even (especially!) in the summer.
8. Living In "Sin City"
<strong>The issue:</strong> Although Las Vegas may be known as a hub of vice, water waste is a lesser known evil. In fact, just living in the Nevada city means you are using way more water than the average consumer. This isn't personal: due to the hot and arid climate, evaporation is a major concern in Southwestern cities. Vegas in particular is home to a number of golf courses and luxury resorts, where a large quantity of water is needed to keep the grounds green and tidy. According to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, <a href="http://www.snwa.com/consv/restrictions_landscape.html" target="_hplink">water laws in Nevada</a> include a restriction in lawn size, and assigned-day watering. <strong>The fix: </strong>Embrace the desert flora. Instead of working tirelessly for thirsty-looking front yard grass, Nevadans can landscape around their homes with cacti and other desert shrubbery. If giving up green is not the way you want to go, astro-turf or other grass substitutes are easy, affordable, and low maintenance options. According to the EPA, <a href="http://www.epa.gov/greenhomes/ConserveWater.htm#landscaping" target="_hplink">replacing grass with artificial turf</a> will save you 2/3 of regular lawn water use. In addition, indoor potted plants and herbs can add to kitchen ambiance. <em>Flickr image courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/6022907226/" target="_hplink">stevendepolo</a></em>
7. Chomping Down On A Cheeseburger
<strong>The issue: </strong>Meat production is a controversial industry, and not only because of its animal treatment record. According to a <a href="http://www.waterfootprint.org/Reports/Report-48-WaterFootprint-AnimalProducts-Vol1.pdf" target="_hplink">UNESCO Institute for Water Education Study</a> conducted between 1996-2005, "29% of the total water footprint of the agricultural sector in the world is related to the production of animal products." One third of that is related to cattle production, according to the study. "The water footprint of any animal product is larger than the water footprint of a wisely chosen crop product with equivalent nutritional value," the study states. <strong>The fix: </strong>Consider cutting down on your meat consumption (check out our <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/meatless-monday" target="_hplink">"Meatless Monday" page</a>!). According to the aforementioned UNESCO study, "managing the demand for animal products by promoting a dietary shift away from a meat-rich diet will be an inevitable component in the environmental policy of government."
6. Going Too Green On Gas
<strong>The issue:</strong> In an effort to go as enviro-friendly as possible, you have made the switch in your refueling routine to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E85" target="_hplink">a corn ethanol blend called E85</a> instead of pure gasoline in your car. Sure, it has some drawbacks (as you can <a href=" a href="http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Transportation/Ethanol-Pros-And-Cons.aspx" target="_hplink"" target="_hplink">see here</a>) but it's better in many ways than regular gas... <em>right</em>? Unfortunately, corn ethanol's high water consumption makes it a controversial energy alternative. According to the National Academies Press,<a href="http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12039&page=46 " target="_hplink"> one gallon of corn ethanol</a> requires four to seven gallons of water for production, while petroleum refinement requires about only 1.5 gallons of water for one gallon of gasoline. E85 also provides "about 30 percent less fuel economy" than ordinary gasoline, according to Mother Earth News. <strong>The fix:</strong> If you can afford it, invest in a hybrid. According to <a href="http://doc.utwente.nl/77191/1/Report44-BurningWater.pdf" target="_hplink">this UNESCO study</a>, bio-electricity is the most water-efficient form of transport. But is the <a href="http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car/" target="_hplink">Chevy Volt</a> not exactly in your price range? Many people still think that the pros of biofuels outweigh the cons, especially if you use your car in moderation. Try to limit your driving time by walking, carpooling, or taking public transportation.
5. Not Letting Your Yellow 'Mellow'
<strong>The issue:</strong> Opening up the toilet lid and seeing a tank full of unflushed pee isn't pleasant. <em>Not</em> flushing, however, is a minor offense in contrast to actually doing it. According to Networx, <a href="http://www.networx.com/article/if-its-yellow-let-it-mellow-the-great " target="_hplink">it takes 1.6 gallons of water to flush a mere 10 ounces of urine</a>, rendering perfectly good water undrinkable. Since the average person pees six times per day, you are using about 2,774 gallons of water every year. <strong>The fix:</strong> Unless you poop, don't flush as frequently. <em>Flickr image courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/3110646027/" target="_hplink">Sustainable sanitation</a></em>
4. Buying From Your Barista
<strong>The issue: </strong>In 2008, a scandal erupted around Starbucks' water use. After a customer spotted a running faucet, she asked the barista why it was left on. "That's just what we are supposed to do," she replied. Starbucks' "dipping wells," as these streams of water were called, wasted <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/SmartHome/story?id=5964908&page=1#.T2pAI3JSTDU " target="_hplink">6 million gallons of water per day</a>. While they have since drastically <a href="http://www.chainstoreage.com/article/starbucks-green-energy-cuts-water-use-pilots-new-ems " target="_hplink">decreased their water use by 21.6%</a>, it still means the company uses about 4,704,000 gallons of water per day. <strong>The fix:</strong> The Sierra Club says that <a href="http://www.sierraclubgreenhome.com/videos/green-your-caffeine/" target="_hplink">coffee production has a much lower water-footprint than tea</a>, so no need to forgo your joe altogether. Instead, the Daily Green suggests <a href="http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/community-tips/brew-coffee-460429" target="_hplink">brewing your own java</a>, and of that only the amount you think you'll drink. In addition, <a href="http://www.tapitwater.com/blog/2011/03/how-the-coffee-crazed-conserve.html" target="_hplink">buying local coffee</a> saves on water lost during transport, according to TapIt.com. Extra points for using a filterless (and non-electric) French press, reusable travel mug, and coffee in recyclable containers or jars! <em>Flickr image courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bfishadow/5943677936/" target="_hplink">bfishadow</a></em>
3. Eating Grocery Store Fruits And Vegetables
<strong>The issue:</strong> When shopping for fruits and veggies at the grocery store versus the local farmers market, many people can only see two differences: the price and the convenience of a grocery store. However, farming uses up a significant amount of available fresh water. According to Wired Magazine, <a href="http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2006/03/70445 " target="_hplink">farmers are responsible for 70% of the world's water consumption</a>, and most of it is not going to good use. Wasteful irrigation systems, overly-dry land that needs an abundance of water, and a lack of efficiency are at the root (pun intended) of the problem. <strong>The fix:</strong> Go local or go home. Some smaller farms are trying new, water sustainable methods to grow their crops. Look up your <a href="http://www.localharvest.org/" target="_hplink">local farms here</a>, and contact them to see if they utilize <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/business/energy-environment/29iht-rbogwater.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">these water sustainable technologies for farmers</a> mentioned in the <em>New York Times</em>. And, of course, home-grown produce is not only water-friendly, but can be cheaper and much, much tastier!
2. Being Too Clean In The Kitchen
<strong>The issue:</strong> Contrary to the conservationist's assumption, a dishwasher can actually be more <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/kitchen-design/built-in-dishwashers-vs-hand-washing-which-is-greener.html" target="_hplink">water and energy efficient than washing dishes by hand</a>, says Treehugger.com. However, this is only true when the dishwasher is run once it is full. Many people, especially those who live alone or with one another person, do not think twice about running a half full, or even a quarter full, dishwasher; it is simply one of those daily chores everyone does. But for a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CGUQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.energystar.gov%2Fia%2Fbusiness%2Fbulk_purchasing%2Fbpsavings_calc%2FCalculatorConsumerDishwasher.xls&ei=2EVrT5aMIuSs0AHw9d34Bg&usg=AFQjCNGkhXzN-s4LntGp_ju2mcslEePM0A " target="_hplink">non-Energy Saver dishwasher,</a> which according to the Energy Saver website uses about 6-7 gallons per load, those gallons add up when you are only washing for one. <strong>The fix:</strong> Only run the dishwasher once you have enough dishes to fill it. If leaving dirty dishes unwashed makes you feel icky, use a damp cloth to wipe off plates before leaving them in the washer.
1. Being A Top Loader
<strong>The issue:</strong> Who knew that the structure of your washing machine says so much about your water footprint? According to Networx, <a href="http://www.networx.com/article/choosing-a-washing-machine-top-loading" target="_hplink">front-loading washing machines</a> are often more energy and water efficient than top loading machines. Although the front loading machines still use 20 gallons of water per cycle, <em>National Geographic</em> claims that <a href="http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/water-conservation-tips/ " target="_hplink">top-loaders use twice that amount</a>! <strong>The fix:</strong> Get yourself a front loading washer.
Water is one of the fundamental requirements of life but as the population increases, it is becoming harder to use. This special from Green TV looks at how the sourcing of water is becoming a political problem and how the fight for life is becoming literal.