By Bruce Campion-Smith and Les Whittington, Toronto Star, August 5, 2011
Deep cuts at Environment Canada could put public safety at risk from freak weather events and the impacts of climate change, critics warn.
News that scientists, meteorologists and engineers are among 776 jobs on the chopping block has department officials facing tough questions about how they plan to cope.
“It’s a real shock it’s so many,” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said, calling the cuts “wrong-headed.”
“Show us where these 800 jobs are. Show us how you think the work can still be done. What I’m asking for is some transparency and some answers,” May said in an interview.
“These are deep cuts into programs and services that are indispensable. They need to look at these programs and realize these are public safety questions,” May said, citing water monitoring and changing weather patterns as two examples.
Her complaints were echoed by the Sierra Club, which called the cuts a “blatant attack” on the environment.
“What it will do is give polluters exactly what they want — a toothless, understaffed Environment Canada with weakened scientific capacity and no enforcement capability,” said John Bennett, the organization’s executive director.
For Harper and Clement, there are only two words, "Remember Walkerton!"
The "gift" of slash-and-burn by the previous Harris government in Ontario resulted, in part, in the quality of water inspection falling and leading to the deaths of people living in that town.
One has to wonder just how the Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent, is taking these cuts to his department, and how he will defend the department when agencies like the Sierra Club start mounting their legitimate attacks.
Canadians know that purchases of the beloved "hard power" of ships and planes and prisons will cost the country deeply in "soft power" services such as those provided by the art historians in the National Gallery, and the engineers and scientists in the Ministry of the Environment. This government is little more than a piece of muscle for the advocates of "hard power" and right-wing pandering that the world neither needs nor can justify.
And any attempt to justify, is so brazenly phoney and insincere, that even the youngest school child can see right through it.