Friday, July 19, 2013

Greg Rickford, Minister of Science and Technology

2011 : MP Greg Rickford - centre - proudly announces funding for fish lab at Experimental Lakes Area, calling it “Canada’s most innovative freshwater research centre.” The 58-lake globally renowned research facility in his Kenora riding was responsible for the research behind the Canada-US acid rain treaty, 
May 2012 : The DFO announces it is dumping ELA to save $2M per year, even though it will cost $50M to shut it down.
After months of hiding from his constituents and outraged scientists, Rickford emerged to explain: 
"Our mandate has moved to a smaller-scale research that reflects what priorities are today."
Exactly how small those Con priorities are Rickford doesn't say, but on March 20 this year, he voted along with all the other Cons against the following motion in the House of Commons :
That, in the opinion of the House:
(a) public science, basic research and the free and open exchange of scientific information are essential to evidence-based policy-making;
(b) federal government scientists must be enabled to discuss openly their findings with their colleagues and the public; and
(c) the federal government should maintain support for its basic scientific capacity across Canada, including immediately extending funding, until a new operator is found, to the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility to pursue its unique research program

How'd he do in his previous stint as ParlSec on Aboriginal Affairs?
Two months before 16-year-old Chelsea Edwards of Attawapiskat First Nation traveled to Geneva Switzerland in Feb 2012 to speak to the UN on behalf of students in her community whose school had closed 12 years earlier due to toxic contamination, Greg Rickford, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Development, stood in the House of Commons in Dec. 2011 and said : 
Mr. Speaker, the government works with First Nations to deliver real results for their priorities. We have invested heavily in First Nation schools, including in Attawapiskat, and in water and waste water infrastructure, health and housing, and we have done this all in full partnership with First Nations.
Sunday update : unmuzzledscience  : Greg Rickford? Really?

July 24 update : G&M : Time running out for ELA transfer deal

#3 in a series on Steve's recent cabinet shuffle appointments. See also : 
Pierre Poilievre, Minister for Democratic Reform and
Dr. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour


double nickel said...

This guy is the ultimate lying liar. His spinning on As It Happens regarding the ELA was mind boggling.He's the penultimate Harper sock puppet.

double nickel said...

Link here:

Anonymous said...

And he called Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike an "exercise in limited caloric intake."

Alison said...

Anon : I read that excellent VO article on Rickford when I was writing the post but unless there is another instance of it I didn't find, what Rickford actually said at the 22-minute mark of his interview on CBC's The House was "exercise in limited caloric intake or hunger strike".

So yeah, he tried to soften it but as he did actually also include the words "hunger strike", I cut him some slack for it.
Still a very good VO article.

thwap said...

Guy sounds like a festering sore on a dirty anus.

Why the fuck did this guy get into politics anyway? Did some dominatrix force him to humiliate himself in public?

Where do we dig up these idiots from anyway? What rock are they all living under?

Alison said...

double nickel : Yeah, quite the interview.
Rickford claims they were always working to save the ELA program by transferring it to a more appropriate venue and does not want to discuss criticisms against how it was handled because "he has always been known to take the high road."

Well that's handy - the high road trumps basic accountability apparently.

Carol Off : "There have been scientists from around the world and throughout Canada who have criticized you and it's fed into the perception that the Harper government has a bias against science and evidence. ... The question being asked is why did you initiate the shutdown, why start shutting down the buildings ... Why didn't you make the transition to ISD before you shut everything down?"

Rickford answers it was a liability issue and the five cabins were removed as part of the negotiations.

This might be remotely believable if we did not have to view it against the backdrop of all the other Harper gov attacks on science and evidence, and their muzzling of scientists.

Alison said...

Thwap, you do have quite a way with images.
You can listen to Rickford's answer to your question yourself here, taped 8 months ago - but you aren't going to like it.
Shorter : He comes from a big family that discussed politics a lot - wanted to be a politician since he was 10. Was a practicing nurse all his life up till a couple of years ago; also has an MBA and law degree. Worked in FN communities in the North, an outdoors sports guy.
The reason you won't like it, Thwap, is because he comes across as a pretty conservative straight-up good guy - someone dedicated to public service who, like many others, somehow wound up swimming with Cons.

thwap said...


Something about believing in the stupid things that "conservatives" believe in (FN are lazy and need to be taught self-reliance [it worked so well with the residential schools!], workers have to get less so that they can buy all the increased output the capitalists make, nature is both a toilet and a great backdrop for photographs, etc.,) helped this doofus to choose wrongly whenever the opportunity arose and now look at him.

double nickel said...

So, much like Ralph Klein, he simply looked to see which way the parade was going, then got out in front of it. Classy.

Boris said...

Alison and thwap: Spending time in healthcare in Aboriginal communities in the North could actually turn someone Conservative. The persistant dysfunction, cycles of abuse, illness, and an inability for communities and politicians to name things that go on up there, and disrupt well entrenched power structures could frustrate someone to tears. There's a lot that doesn't make the press. And some people reach a point, and I've seen it among Indigenous people themselves and in other contexts where conservative arguments that start a individual responsibility begin to make sense. It's the intellectually lazy way out, but people will fall into it.

Alison said...

Boris : Conservative arguments that start at individual responsibility make sense to me too and when the current crop of neoliberal Con revolutionaries collapse under the weight of their lack of responsibility for their own actions, I'll be happy to espouse it - just not as a zero sum game.

Alison said...

P.S. Chat about the North to wait for beers one day I think.

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