41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION – November 19, 2012

Mr. Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre, CPC):

“Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions.

The first petition has 38 signatures from Montreal, Vancouver and the London-Waterloo region asking the Government of Canada to, among other things, continue to staff and fund the Experimental Lakes Area at current or higher levels of commitment. The second petition is by another 36 people from the Kitchener area to the same effect.”

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Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, Lib.):

“Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a petition from residents of Canada who want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that Canada’s Experimental Lakes area is a unique and world-renowned facility for freshwater research and education. The ELA provides essential scientific knowledge for the development of national and international policies. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to recognize the importance of the ELA to its mandate to study, preserve and protect aquatic ecosystems. They ask the government to reverse its decision to close the ELA research station and to continue to staff and provide financial resources to the ELA at a current or higher level of commitment.”

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Mr. Fin Donnelly (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP):

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from thousands of Canadians to save the ELA, Canada’s leading freshwater research station. The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to recognize the importance of the ELA to its mandate to study, preserve and protect aquatic ecosystems, to reverse the decision to close the ELA research station and to continue to staff and provide financial resources to the ELA at the current or a higher level of commitment.”

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Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC):

“Mr. Speaker, I rise to present petitions from Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph calling upon the government to provide financial resources to the ELA at the current or a higher level of commitment.”

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Mr. Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Ind.):

“Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions today. The first is yet another petition, this time on behalf of residents of Quebec, regarding the government’s closure of the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario. Closing that world renowned freshwater science facility would jeopardize unique research.”

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Mr. Robert Chisholm:

“With regard to research conducted at the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA): (a) why were Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientists recently awarded competitive internal grants on departmental priorities for conducting research at ELA; (b) was any analysis done on the impact on existing programs of cancelling funding on March 31, 2012, for the ELA and, if not, why not; (c) will the government conduct an analysis before cancelling the funding; and (d) what contingency plans are being made for research or projects that will not have been completed by the deadline?”

Hon. Gail Shea (Minister of National Revenue, CPC):

“Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the termination of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s role in the operations at the Experimental Lakes Area is part of the budget 2012, announced on March 29, 2012. While budget 2012 was in development, the department was undergoing its normally established planning process for scientific research, including requesting research proposals from departmental scientists.

In response to (b) and (c), after conducting a full review of its operations leading into budget 2012, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is increasingly focusing its resources on priority areas that directly support conservation and fisheries management. The department is now focusing on work being conducted at other freshwater research facilities across the country, which will more than adequately meet the departmental research needs.

In response to (d), managers are working with researchers on transition plans for projects at the facility. While the department is winding down operations at the Experimental Lakes Area, it is continuing to conduct freshwater research in various other locations across Canada. The department hopes to transfer the Experimental Lakes Area so that the research can continue to be conducted by another party that will benefit from it.”

Mr. Robert Chisholm:

“With regard to decommissioning or transferring operations of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) site: (a) has an economic analysis been done on the cost of remediation of the site upon decommissioning to meet the criteria agreed to in the Canada-Ontario Memorandum of Agreement for the ELA and, if not, why not; (b) what is the projected cost for remediation of the site; (c) what legal advice has the government sought regarding its liability for the site at decommissioning; (d) what legal advice has the government sought regarding its liability if it transfers the operation of the site to a third party; and (e) what discussions has the government had with the Province of Ontario on the options regarding decommissioning or transferring the operation to another operator?”

Hon. Gail Shea (Minister of National Revenue, CPC):

“Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), (b) and (e), discussions are ongoing with the Province of Ontario, which owns the land, about the Canada-Ontario memorandum of agreement and future plans for the Experimental Lakes Area. Fisheries and Oceans Canada strongly favours transferring operations of the facility to an organization that is better positioned to conduct studies based on fundamental ecosystem manipulation. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is currently gathering information and conducting studies to support either transferring the facility to another operator or decommissioning the site. Officials from Fisheries and Oceans Canada have had several productive discussions with representatives of the Province of Ontario regarding future plans for the facility

In response to (c) and (d), Fisheries and Oceans Canada has sought legal advice as appropriate.”

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Question No. 936–

Ms. Megan Leslie:

“With regard to the cancellation of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program and discontinuance of funding: (a) what initiatives or programs are being cut; (b) for each initiative or program, what are the amounts of the planned decreases in human resources and funding; (c) will positions be eliminated and, if so, how many; and (d) which initiatives and/or programs will be eliminated by Budget 2012?”

Question No. 937–

Ms. Megan Leslie:

“With regard to the cancellation of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program and dismantling of the Experimental Lakes Area science team: (a) what assessment led to the termination of the ELA program; (b) what was the review process; (c) which departments led the review; (d) who made the decision to terminate the program and on what date; (e) does the ELA research program align with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ priorities, and if not, how does the ELA research program fail to align with the mandate; and (f) does the ELA research program align with the mandate of Environment Canada?”

Question No. 952–

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay:

“With regard to the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA): (a) has the government had any meetings or discussions with representatives of companies or organizations in the natural resources sector regarding the transfer of the ELA, and, if so, (i) who were the representatives, (ii) where did the meetings take place, (iii) when did the meetings take place; (b) what benefits, if any, does the government see in transferring the ELA to the natural resources sector; (c) how would the Canada-Ontario Memorandum of Agreement be affected in the event of (i) ELA site transfer to the private sector, (ii) site transfer to a university or consortium of universities, (iii) the shuttering or mothballing of the site, (iv) the permanent remediation of the site; (d) has the government’s moratorium on the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Major Resources Support Program affected the ability of the government to transfer the site to a university or consortium of universities; (e) would any potential new operator of the ELA have to assume liability for the remediation of the ELA site, and what is the approximate projected cost of site remediation; and (f) is the research done at the ELA primarily the responsibility of the public sector or the private sector?”

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