1st Session, 41st Parliament – October 24, 2012

Senator Munson:

“I thank the leader for her first two answers.

As to the second answer, she keeps referring back to the government I served in, but we are talking about today. We are talking about fiscal restraint today and living within our budgets. We all have to do that, both here in the Senate and in the House of Commons. The question has to do with overspending and living within available means.

The leader’s government has been cutting thousands of civil service jobs and preaching fiscal restraint to Canadians. I am sure Canadians like to see the public service taking the brunt of the restraint program.

However, the government launched a $16 million advertising blitz to promote the economic action plan. That amount was for the first quarter of this year. That initiative is long over and done with. Her government has other recent advertisement spending, including $5 million to promote better jobs, $4.5 million to recognize the bicentennial of the War of 1812, $8 million to spruce up the cuts to Old Age Security, and $5 million to paint her government as responsible environmental stewards. Ironically, this last one comes at a time when the Experimental Lakes Area is being cut to save $2 million annually and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy was dissolved for a savings of $5.5 million. At a time when global economic circumstances demand fiscal prudence, why is the government spending this way?”

Senator LeBreton:

“I think I responded to that in my first answer, honourable senators. It is the responsibility of the government to inform Canadians of available programs they can access, such as enrolling in skills training. The advertisement has a website, which has been extremely well used by the citizenry of this country, as people access the various government programs that are available. The advertising we do is focused primarily on the objectives of this government, which are jobs, the economy and prosperity.”

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Hon. Maria Chaput:

“Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. A few weeks ago, I asked the minister a question about the Experimental Lakes Area program. This research project, led by a team of scientists, was the responsibility of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

As the minister knows, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will no longer be responsible for this project and thus will no longer manage it.

This project is one of a kind. Sixty-three per cent of Canadians support it, more than 25,000 Canadians have signed a petition to save it, and a considerable number of municipalities have passed resolutions and sent letters to that effect to Prime Minister Harper.

Once again, I would like to know why the leader’s government is abandoning this research project and the team of scientists. Why will she not transfer it instead to another department?

If Fisheries and Oceans will not or cannot manage this project, why not transfer it to the Department of the Environment, for example?”

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):

“Honourable senators, my answer is the same as it has been to several questions regarding the Experimental Lakes Area facility. The decision has been made to end this program as a federal facility.

We have also made other decisions, such as unprecedented new investments in science and technology since 2006. I will give a few examples.

Since 2006, we have invested millions in science to update and refit over a dozen laboratories and by constructing three new science vessels. We have invested in complete ocean mapping for Canada’s Law of the Sea submission and in science funding to support emerging commercial fishing in the Arctic. We have also made additional scientific investments to counter threats from aquatic invasive species, as the honourable senator knows.

Honourable senators, the government is ending the federal funding of this particular program, but there are many more programs in the area of scientific research that we have invested in and will continue to invest in to ensure that we have the very best scientific research available.”

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