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ALBAS: The relationship between the Liberal government and federal scientists

Dan Albas, member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla.
Image Credit: Contributed
August 11, 2016 - 1:59 PM




During the last Federal election I made a point of attending almost every public all candidate forum that my schedule would allow. By the end of the writ period I believe I missed only two forums, one of which was not even located within my riding. At one forum the former Government, of which I was a member, was accused of being at "war” against federal scientists.

When I attempted to explain that I had met with several scientists over the previous term of Government and never had this point communicated directly to me, many in the crowd expressed disbelief. After all it seemed the official narrative was that our Government had waged a war against scientists and the Liberals under Justin Trudeau were promising to do things differently.

I mention this because this week it has been reported in Ottawa just how differently the Liberal Government is treating scientists employed by the Federal Government. In fact it has now been reported that the Liberal Government will preside over, and I quote directly “the biggest ever recorded cut to the number of federal environmental scientists”.

According to forecasts from Statistics Canada there will be a loss of roughly 400 jobs that represents a 10% cut compared to the final year under the former Government. As the Liberal Government is disputing the forecast provided by Statistics Canada I will provide a follow up on this subject as it becomes available.

On the same theme related to scientists many will recall allegations the former Government “muzzled” federal scientists, yet another promise the Liberal Government claimed it would rectify. However recently released data has revealed that in fact federal scientists were not muzzled in the manner as often described in the media.

In fact for the final year of the former government close to 1500 media interviews were provided by federal scientists. Recently the Union representing federal government scientists reported that many federal scientists are currently being prevented from participating in conferences and that science related communications policies are unevenly applied across the federal public service.

Before I go any further I would like to credit Ottawa journalist David Akin who factually documented these details and disclosed them to the public. Not surprisingly news of the Liberal Government “war on science” was not broadcast in most major media networks who seem often more concerned covering our new Prime Minister on vacation, often found in many beautiful locations across Canada (including the Okanagan) and at times shirtless.

You likely also did not hear that Statistics Canada recently reported that over 30,000 jobs were lost across Canada in the latest July release. These job losses are among the worst recorded in roughly five years. The one positive is that here in British Columbia we are currently leading all Canadian provinces with the lowest unemployment rate for July at 5.6%.

As the official opposition it is our role to report on details that are of national concern to Canadians and more so at a time when many media organization favour the Prime Ministers vacation coverage to documenting serious concerns related to jobs and employment. From my perspective the biggest concern I see is the new Government has reduced the sized of TFSA contributions and also has not followed up on promised small business tax cuts. This in addition to increasing delays on major project approvals have all combined and reduced the flow of investment needing to help enhance job creation.

This is a subject I will continue to raise in Ottawa along with the need to eliminate internal trade barriers that could also help jump start our Canadian economy. Yet another measure that Liberal Government opposed in Ottawa despite my putting forward a motion that even the NDP and Green Party were in full support of.  When Canada’s unemployment rate starts to rise as dramatically as it has in July I do not believe we can sit back and be complacent. Action is needed to get the results that keep Canadians working.

As always I welcome your comments, questions and concerns and can be reached at or contact me toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

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