Loch stocks in peril

A few of the Experimental Lakes Area’s now-woebegone lakes

Lakes are a big deal in Canada. We’re home to freshwater lakes, saltwater lakes, the Great (some would say greatest) Lakes, hip indie bands with names like the Besnard Lakes and Great Lake Swimmers, and even former L.A. Lakers star Rick Fox. We play hockey on them in the winter, chill six-packs in them in the summer, aspire to someday owning waterfront cottages beside them and even enjoy pretending there are giant monsters living in several of the bigger ones.

Great Big Sea would likely be even more popular  if they’d called themselves Great Big Lake.

Canada has nearly 10 per cent of the planet’s renewable freshwater supply, a resource often called “the oil of the 21st Century,” and so we were shocked by the Harper government’s May 17 announcement that it’s pulling the plug on the renowned Experimental Lakes Area program.

This long-running field station, made up of 58 different lakes in northwestern Ontario, is internationally famous for its research into everything from acid rain, fish farming and climate change and helped form global public policy on watershed protection. Basically if there was any reesarch to do with the planet’s freshwater supply and how humanity is fucking it up, they were on it.

According to an official statement, this DFO project (which employed 40 people through its $2 million annual budget) is no longer “aligned with the department’s mandate and is not responding to our research priorities.

What the Conservatives’ actual scientific research priorities are remain unclear. The very same day, for example, parliamentary secretary Dean Del Mastro argued human sexuality is “not biology” while expressing his disgust for a teen sex ed exhibit at an Ottawa museum, so it could be anything really. But if some scientists wanted to look into finding out how the Alberta tar sands actually benefit the environment, we suspect some funding could probably be found. (This is, after all, a government who thinks forgetting to count an extra 10 billion dollars for fighter jets is no biggie.)

For now, at least, the need to protect our H2O appears to be dead in the water.

(This post was first published in Kudos & Kvetches  © Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier)

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