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Conservative Government Shutting Down World-Class Freshwater Research Facility In Northern Ontario

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Tories shut down ‘groundbreaking’ freshwater research station


OTTAWA— Globe and Mail Update

Posted on

Thursday, May 17, 2012 3:34PM EDT

The federal government is closing a research station scientists have used for decades to study how pollutants like acid rain and phosphates affect lakes.

The Experimental Lakes Area is in Northwestern Ontario, about 250 kilometres east of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since 1968, government and university scientists have used its 58 small lakes to test hypotheses about freshwater ecosystems. One experiment has been running for 40 years.

Employees were told Thursday, said Roberto Quinlan, a biologist at York University, but he noted they were also informed the government would not make an official announcement.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said in a statement later Thursday it would no longer conduct research that requires “whole lakes or whole lake ecosystem manipulation,” but that “every attempt will be made to transfer the ownership of the facility to universities or provinces.”

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada is criticizing the fisheries for withdrawing funding from the Experimental Lake Areas program.

“A region of remote lakes has been dedicated, since the late 1960s, to whole-lake ecosystem research. It has been the site of groundbreaking studies into the effects of pollutants, acid rain, freshwater aquaculture, and hydroelectric dams on freshwater ecosystems,” the union said in a news release.

John Smol, a professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, said closing the facility is a “travesty, not just for Canada but for the rest of the world.”

He said data from experiments carried out at the lakes “ were critical in showing we can’t have phosphates in detergents and that acid rain causes marked ecosystem changes.”

David Schindler, a professor at the University of Alberta, said employees were told that the facility will be closed as of March, 2013, and that universities, not governments, should be doing this kind of science. But he argued this type of large-scale, long-term research requires government support.

“I think we have a government that considers science an inconvenience.”

Conservative government shutting down world-class freshwater research facility in northern Ontario

Published On Thu May 17 2012

Allan Woods

Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA—The Conservative government is shuttering a scientific “jewel” in northern Ontario that has put Canada at the forefront of global freshwater lake research.

The federal fisheries department announced Thursday that it intends to close down theExperimental Lakes Area, a collection of 58 lakes near Kenora.

Unions said this was a fragment of the more than 1,000 notices sent Thursday to Fisheries and Canadian Coast Guard employees about imminent layoffs. Separately, a spokesperson for the department said more than $79 million is expected to be saved through cuts to internal operations and administration.

The open-air research facility nestled in the Precambrian Shield is but the highest profile of those cuts. From acid rain to mercury levels to climate change and the effects of household phosphates on freshwater ecosystems, the chain of lakes has seen them all, and often been the site of world-leading breakthroughs in science.

“In our scientific community it’s an international jewel,” said Yves Prairie, a professor in the biology department at L’Université du Québec à Montréal. “This is where some of the most significant advances in our science have occurred in the last 40 years.

“For us, it’s completely incredible that the government would shut it down given the international stature that it has and the importance for the field.”

The word comes as federal lawmakers debate a controversial budget billthat eases rules onenvironmental assessments, removes protection for fish and wildlife and scraps agencies like the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, an independent panel struck to help Ottawa balance environmental protection with economic growth.

Before the Experimental Lakes Area was created, biologists studying freshwater lakes and ecosystems were forced to collect water in containers and truck it back to the lab for tests and experiments with less than reliable results.

After the Ontario government deeded the area to the federal government in the late 1960s, scientists were able to manipulate whole lakes to study some of the most pressing water issues of the day.

Since then, it has drawn some of the top scientists into freshwater ecosystems from Canada, the United States and around the world.

In announcing the closure, the government said such work is now better carried out by universities and non-governmental organizations.

Fisheries spokesperson Mélanie Carkner said: “Every attempt will be made to transfer the ownership of the facility to universities or provinces.”

David Schindler, a University of Alberta ecology professor who helped to set up the Experimental Lakes Area, said: “Their assertion that universities can do this sort of stuff is just absurd. They simply do not give, via any of their mechanisms, the kind of money needed to run a facility like that.”

Schindler said he was saddened but not surprised to hear of the decision.

“It’s not a surprise given the total lack of appreciation for science in this government,” he said. “It’s pretty tragic and it’s indicative of what we face for the next four years with this bunch of glib soothsayers for politicians.”

A 2004 audit of the Experimental Lakes Area by the federal fisheries department found some management problems, including an annual deficit of $77,000, a poorly documented cost recovery system, an informal and inefficient system of charging and collecting per diems from visiting scientists, and research that was inconsistent with departmental activities and priorities.

A follow-up audit in 2008 found that “the most critical” shortcomings had been addressed.

But scientists say that the work completed at the chain of lakes in northern Ontario has always been timely and critical to the issues of the day.

Prairie, who is vice-president of the Society of Canadian Limnologists, recalled that freshwater scientists were studying the effects of acid rain in the 1980s — the same time that Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was negotiating his famous Acid Rain Treaty with U.S. Presidents Ronald Regan and his successor, George W. Bush.

In another landmark experiment in the 1970s, researchers divided up a lake into two parts to study the effects of phosphates on the water, assuming that they were behind the phenomenon of oxygen-depriving blue-green algae.

Companies who made and sold household detergents and shampoos rigorously denied that phosphates were the reason that lakes were becoming green and murky rather than remaining crystal clear.

The experiment involved adding carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus into one half of the lake and leaving the phosphorous out of the other half.

“There are classic pictures you can see where one side is completely green and the other side is clear as it was before,” Prairie said. “It proved beyond any reasonable doubt that phosphorous was the culprit. This is part of what made the legislation about how much phosphate can go in the system began.”

Seems like every day there's a reason to long for an election.

If anyone's compelled, here's a

summary of major research projects going on there.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ottawa sinks pollution checks

Cuts at Institute for Ocean Sciences; some work will go to private sector

By Cindy E. Harnett, Times Colonist May 20, 2012

Marine mammal toxicologist Peter Ross, right, and technician Neil Dangerfield weigh a seal pup in August 2003. Ross, Dangerfield and seven others are losing their jobs at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in North Saanich.

Photograph by: Debra Brash , timescolonist.com (May 2012)

Nine marine scientists and staff in North Saanich Friday will lose their jobs as the federal government cuts almost all the employees who monitor ocean pollution across Canada.

The entire DFO contaminants program nationally and regionally — including two research scientists, a chemist and four technicians at the Institute for Ocean Sciences in North Saanich — is being shut down effective April 1, 2013.

Across Canada, the government is slashing up to 75 jobs in the national contaminants program — that involves any one who works mostly in marine pollution. For about a decade Fisheries and Oceans has been trying to offload the program to Environment Canada. Instead, this week, it axed it.

“The entire pollution file for the government of Canada, and marine environment in Canada’s three oceans, will be overseen by five junior biologists scattered across the country — one of which will be stationed in B.C.,” said environmental toxicologist Peter Ross., a expert on marine mammals, notably killer whales.

“I cannot think of another industrialized nation that has completely excised marine pollution from its radar,” Ross said. Hired as a research scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada in 1999, Ross was one of the nine employees who received a letter Thursday informing him his position will be “affected as your services may no longer be required due to a lack of work or discontinuance of a function.”

“It is with apprehension that I ponder a Canada without any research or monitoring capacity for pollution in our three oceans, or any ability to manage its impacts on commercial fish stocks, traditional foods to over 300,000 aboriginal people, and marine wildlife,” Ross said.

There are 25,000 chemicals in the Canadian market place, hundreds of which can be detected in Canada’s killer whales. There are also over 350 pesticides registered for use in B.C. Ross deals with a wide range of pollution files from municipal sewage and pesticide impacts on salmon to the effect of PCBs on killer whales and contaminated sites throughout B.C.

The federal government says 19,200 jobs will be eliminated in the next three years as it cuts $5.2 billion in spending. As part of those cutbacks, 13,000 union jobs across Canada have already been affected — including 898 in B.C., according to the Public Service Alliance Canada union.

“Between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, we have found $79.3 million of savings for Canadians primarily by adjusting our internal operations and administration,” said Melanie Carkner, a spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in an e-mail, Friday.

“To put the impact on employees in perspective, we will be removing about 400 positions from DFO’s 11,000-strong workforce. This works out to less than 2 per cent a year over three years.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is re-focusing its research on priority areas that directly support conservation and fisheries management: “In lieu of in-house research on the biological effects of contaminants and pesticides, the department will establish an advisory group and research fund of $1.4 million a year to work with academia and other independent facilities to get advice on priority issues and ensure departmental priorities are met,” Carkner said.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who represents Saanich-Gulf Island said to lose all the toxics-related research going on at IOS is shocking. The cuts are no longer about “streamlining but instead steamrollering,” she said. “I will do everything I can to stop this government’s budget bill” — the Budget Implementation Act C-38, May said.

The area of environmental science is being targeted and decimated, she said.

“We’re talking about putting oil tankers on our coastline so they close the Emergency Response office for oil spills in B.C., and move nine toxicologists?,” May said

Deficit reduction is important “but to take out an entire group that’s not prudent fiscal management, that’s driven by ideology that doesn’t want to know what toxin chemicals are doing in the ocean and freshwater,” she said.

Bob Jackson, PSAC regional executive vice-president, said the cuts by the federal Conservatives are reckless in that there has been “virtually zero consultation” with stakeholders.

“It’s quite clear that those making the decisions don’t know the work they are making serious serious decisions about,” Jackson said, Friday.

Workers in the contaminants program in North Saanich were reeling in disbelief, disappointment and shock Friday, Ross said.

“I will say to their credit, of the nine people axed in our program, I would say every single one was less concerned with is or her personal career loss than they were concerned about what this means to Canada as a country,” Ross said.

Read more: http://www.timescolo...l#ixzz1w5GjwKnx

Just what we need here in BC, eh? That, and oil tankers.


“We don’t govern on the basis of statistics.”

Cons are really driving that point home.

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So when can we expect the next election?

It's too bad that newish Canadians were afraid of minority governments. Some of the best things that happened to us as a country happened during when governments were a minority. I don't think people realize that. All parties should have checks to each other.

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Typical conservative BS. Traditionally Conservative type of governments, put more money towards helping big business's and to the military. Harper has shown this to be true. Canada has dropped 2 spots in the World Health Organization's ranking of health care (world wide) since Harper was first elected. Yet in military rankings, we have gone up.

Screw our health and well being, as long as we have a good military for all those wars we should not be involved with, we'll be fine.

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Here's a question for everyone - what's the alternative?

Government(s) are spending more money than they take in.

Tax payers and voters want government(s) to be accountable and to not run a deficit plus pay down any debt.

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Not enacting policies that drive down wages, and therefore tax revenues, would be a good start. Not cutting taxes on corporations that stand to benefit from the wage cuts would be a good start. You know, raising the amount taken in? What a radical concept for a Conservative. :lol:

Canadians open to tax hikes to create more equal society, poll finds


Globe and Mail Update


Tuesday, Apr. 10, 2012 9:33AM EDT

Last updated

Sunday, Apr. 15, 2012 2:13PM EDT

Canadians are concerned about what they see as a growing gap between the rich and the poor and are willing to consider tax increases to create a more equal society, according to a new poll conducted for a think-tank founded by former NDP leader Ed Broadbent.

The Environics Research survey looked at attitudes toward income disparities in the months after the Occupy movement took over public spaces around the world and as some politicians, including U.S. President Barack Obama, propose taxes on the wealthiest members of society to fight burgeoning deficits.

Here in Canada, talk of raising taxes has been considered political suicide for more than a decade. But the survey commissioned by the Broadbent Institute suggests that most Canadians would not be opposed to paying a little more to preserve social programs and prevent the poor from falling even further behind.

“Individuals from all walks of life indicate they are willing to do their part through fair and equitable taxation to protect our public programs, but they want corporations to do their part too,” said the report of the Institute released Tuesday to accompany the poll.

It concludes that “any government or political party that prioritizes the tackling of income inequality will not only reflect current public opinion, they will garner Canadians’ support because they will finally be addressing an issue that represents a fundamental Canadian value: equality.”

The telephone survey of 2,000 Canadians is considered to accurately reflect the broad opinions of the Canadian public within plus or minus 2.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

More than three-quarters of the respondents (77 per cent) said they viewed the gap between the very rich and the rest of Canadians to be a serious problem with long-term negative consequences for society. While NDP respondents almost unanimously agreed that the widening disparity was an issue of concern, a clear majority of Conservative voters (59 per cent) also felt that way.

Only 20 per cent of those polled said they agreed with the statement: “There’s nothing wrong with a widening income gap, it just means people have to work harder at being rich themselves.”

When respondents were asked if they thought growing income inequality would cause problems for Canada, 79 per cent said it will eventually lead to declining living standards, 75 per cent said it will create increased crime, 72 per cent said it will lead to the erosion of public health care, 71 per cent said it will mean fewer opportunities for young Canadians to do as well or better than their parents, and 67 per cent said it could reduce the quality of democracy.

A majority of those surveyed said the growing disparity undermines Canadian values – something expressed even by most of those living in households making more than $100,000 a year. And 42 per cent said the problem should be a “top priority” for governments. The older the respondents, the more likely they were to say the issue needs to be addressed.

Nearly two-thirds of the people polled responded yes when asked: “Would you personally be very, somewhat, not very or not at all willing to pay slightly higher taxes if that’s what it would take to protect our social programs like health care, pensions and access to post-secondary education?”

Even a majority of the respondents who voted Conservative (58 per cent) said they were at least somewhat willing to pay higher taxes to protect social programs.

And 83 per cent of all poll participants said they were in favour of increasing income taxes on the wealthiest Canadians. (Some respondents were asked if people making more than $250,000 should pay more taxes and some were asked if those making more than $500,000 should pay more.) The survey suggested that 69 per cent of Canadians would support the introduction of a new 35 per cent inheritance tax on any estate valued above $5-million. An inheritance tax proposal hurt the New Democrats in the 2004 election but that would have meant a 17 per cent tax on estates over $1-million.

Meanwhile, 73 per cent would agree to gradually increasing corporate tax rates back to what they were in 2008 when the federal rate stood at 21 per cent. It has since been reduced to 15 per cent.


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I agree - however - that poll is flawed - why?

Consider this.

There are more poor and middle class people.

It seems obvious that the result of a poll suggesting the rich be taxed more would be high.

It's like polling 100 hungry people with the question: Are you hungry?


Economics, though is interesting..

But is is cyclic - that is, A depends on B which depends on C.

So, if you increase corporate taxes, those businesses in turn increase whatever rates they charge for their services which means the poor/middle class pay more out of their pockets anyways. Plus, more people could become poor as higher corporate taxes could mean job losses.

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