Since they came to power, the Harperites have insisted that there are all kinds of things we can't afford. Their latest claim is that six Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries no longer serve a purpose. In the digital age, they argue, the libraries simply take up space. But Andrew Nikiforuk writes that a secret government memo reveals that the government's claim has nothing to do with digitizing books:
In fact, the document, a compendium of cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that can be read in its entirety at the bottom of this story, mentions only the "culling of materials" as the "main activities" involved as the science libraries are reduced from nine to two. Specifically, it details "culling materials in the closed libraries or shipping them to the two locations and culling materials in the two locations to make room for collections from closed libraries."
Scientists have warned for a long time that this government is at war with knowledge:
As reported by The Tyee earlier this month and again here, scientists are sounding alarms about libraries dismantled by the government, including the historic St. Andrews Biological Station (SABS) in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, where famed environmental scientist Rachel Carson did some of her research for her groundbreaking book on toxins, Silent Spring. Also shut down are the famous Freshwater Institute library in Winnipeg and one of the world's finest ocean collections at the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Scientists who use the libraries say priceless information -- essential for the legal and political security of Canada's waterways as well as the defence of the longest coastline in the world -- was thrown into dustbins, burned or scavenged by private consultants. In Winnipeg, a consultant's group operating for Manitoba Hydro backed up a truck to collect materials from the dismantled library.
Like any well run criminal enterprize, the Harper government is focused on destroying evidence. And just how much money is being saved?
In fact the closure of libraries containing vital material nearly 100 years old on the state of Canada's fisheries, freshwater ecosystems and oceans will save taxpayers just $443,000 a year, according to the document.
In one case the government closed the climate-controlled library at the St. Andrews Biological Station in New Brunswick just after the government spent millions modernizing the famous facility.
They continue to claim that they specialize in financial management. But, like the prime minister's claim that Nigel Wright acted alone, that is a lie.
On an entirely different note, Happy New Year to all.