Offshore drilling will begin shortly in Cacouna, home of the endangered beluga whale, and New Democrats are wondering what Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are hiding? NDP requests for scientific documents concerning the drilling have been delegated to the Minister of Natural Resources — not the Minister of the Environment.
“It’s the Environment Minister’s job to protect endangered species,” said François Choquette, the Official Opposition’s deputy critic for Environment. “The fact that the Minister for Natural Resources is replying to our request, and not Leona Aglukkaq, says a lot about the way this Conservative government handles environmental issues.”
New Democrats have called on the Conservative government to publicly disclose the scientific advice on which it based its authorization of work in the port of Cacouna. Until this is done, the Official Opposition in Ottawa has called for a moratorium on all activities in the area.
“It’s a really simple request — it’s a question of transparency that the government can quickly act upon,” said MP François Lapointe (Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup). “It was right there in black in white in the Minister’s response: ‘Canadians expect their government to make decisions based on independent scientific studies and not on irresponsible ideologies.’ Well, we completely agree, that’s exactly why we want to see these scientific analyses.”
The NDP is reiterating its request and hopes that this time the Environment Minister will actually bother to reply.
“Instead of calling the NDP radical, Conservatives should simply unveil the documents they have in their possession,” added MP Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les-Basques). “If the advice says that drilling activities won’t affect the belugas, they can go right ahead. But the more Conservatives stubbornly insist on keeping secrets, the more we get the sense that they’re hiding something.”