OTTAWA, Ontario – June 12, 2012 --- Independent Thunder Bay, Ontario, MP Bruce Hyer was joined by Liberals, New Democrats, Green Leader Elizabeth May, and fisheries researchers in Ottawa Tuesday, at a press conference calling on the government to reverse its decision to close the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA). The world-renowned research facility is scheduled to close next March 31 if the government’s 452-page omnibus budget implementation bill passes without amendment this week.
“I have just come back from visiting Kenora this weekend,” said Hyer. “I was scheduled to visit the Experimental Lakes, but the Government denied access despite the fact that many researches there were eager to show me their facility: the crown jewel of freshwater research. This is just further evidence that the government is muzzling scientists and preventing them from talking to MPs.”
“Both Kenora MP Greg Rickford and I were invited to a town hall meeting in Kenora to hear from residents about the closing of the ELA,” continued Hyer. “Mr. Rickford declined to attend, but I heard an earful. Like Canadians across the country, people there are expecting their elected MPs to stand up for them. MPs can have the integrity to stand up – inside and outside Parliament – for their constituents and for Canadians, or they can bow to the whip and their party line. I hope David Wilks, Greg Rickford, and 11 other Conservative MPs will respect their constituents’ wishes and oppose this ideological omnibus budget bill in votes tomorrow. We need 13 Conservative MPs with courage to see the bill defeated or split up”
While the annual cost of the Experimental Lakes Area is a modest $2 million, it leverages huge sums of further research dollars, and undertakes priceless research. The facility has been responsible for leading discoveries in wastewater treatment and water pollutants including research on mercury poisoning and the impacts of phosphates and nitrates from detergents and fertilizers. Findings have resulted in policy changes in many countries around the world, including the United States and the European Union.
“The Experimental Lakes Area is really the only facility in the world where whole-ecosystem research can be done to protect our freshwaters and their fisheries,” said Hyer, a biologist and ecologist before being elected MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North. “Closing it would be the very definition of penny wise and pound foolish. It would end up costing us far more in the end.”