Here’s Stephen Harper doing his best to stay out of the Enbridge pipeline debate – the biggest (non-soccer) controversy in Canada these days:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is defending the independence of the environmental review process underway for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, telling reporters in Vancouver the project will be evaluated scientifically and a green light to proceed would not be based on politics.
“Decisions on these kinds of projects are made through an independent evaluation conducted by scientists into the economic costs and risks that are associated with the project. And that’s how we conduct our business,” Harper said.
“The only way that governments can handle controversial projects of this manner is to ensure that things are evaluated on an independent basis scientifically and not simply on political criteria,” the prime minister added.
While this is a perfectly reasonable position for Harper to take, it’s also unexpected. After all, the Stephen Harper Amish Drinking Game has “science” in the centre square – it’s simply not a word that ever crosses his lips.
Of course, Harper’s conversion to science does seem to have more to do with convenience than faith when you consider his government came to power thanks to a GST cut economists everywhere hated. It’s the same government that killed the long-form Census over howls of protests from every single expert (other than noted censologist Lorne Gunter) – then cut Statistics Canada’s budget to rub salt in the wound. His Minister of Science doesn’t believe in evolution. Don’t even bother bringing up safe injection sites, the fisheries act, or climate change. It’s no wonder one of the world’s leading scientific journals has demanded that Harper “set scientists free“.
So while I welcome Harper’s newfound love of science, I’ll remain a skeptic until I see more supporting evidence he has changed his ways.