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
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