Andrew Scheer says it is "extremely disappointing" that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is lauding the governor general's controversial speech at a science conference.
The Tory leader said the PM "offended millions of Canadians" by saying he was proud of Julie Payette after she appeared to criticize people who question climate change or believe in creationism.
In turn, Scheer's comments Friday drew a return volley from Trudeau's principal secretary, Gerald Butts.
"People of faith know that climate change is real, and the world is not flat," Butts wrote.
The controversy kicked off on Wednesday when Payette spoke at the annual convention of the Canadian Science Policy Centre. The former astronaut and engineer told the audience she found it surprising that some parts of society and "houses of government" still questioned the role of humans in climate change.
"And we are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, a random process," she said.
Asked to respond to Payette's words, Trudeau said his government and Canadians in general understand the importance of science: "I applaud the firmness with which she stands in support of science and the truth."
PM not supporting faith groups: Scheer
On Facebook, Scheer took aim at Trudeau for praising the GG's speech.
"It is extremely disappointing that the Prime Minister will not support Indigenous peoples, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Christians and other faith groups who believe there is truth in their religion," Scheer said on Friday, linking to an article about Trudeau's response.
Payette's speech drew sharp reactions on social media. Some applauded her approach, while others said her comments are not befitting a governor general. Her words also gave columnistsplenty to write about.
One political strategist told The Canadian Press that the governor general's comments were flat-out "mean-spirited."
"I definitely agree science is key but I think there is a better way to do that without making fun of other people," Alise Mills said.
With files from The Canadian Press
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