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Will ELA recover?

Open Letter to
Minster Rickford
Minister Rickford, please do not claim to have saved ELA or say if it is not saved, it is Ontario’s fault. The ELA is far from safe because your government broke ELA’s back, withdrawing money and scientists. You are fully pulling out in September.
Ontario came to the rescue and is now trying to pick up the pieces and repair the damage your government created.
In a July letter and newsletter to constituents, you claim that the federal government would support summer research.
However, despite a federal government grant, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), is keeping the Trent nanosilver scientists (looking at the effect of deodorizing silver particles in clothing) out of ELA. Other science is also stalled. Is that support?
In 2009, you called ELA Canada’s “most innovative freshwater research centre”, announced $850,000 in funding to make Canada a leader in knowledge creation and attract jobs and growth.
You say that ELA research needs to be done closer to resource development out west, meaning the oil sands. However, you have not told us where you will get the money or where you will do the research. You forget that ELA is one of a kind—the world’s only, whole lake, whole ecosystem, freshwater research centre.
You also ignore Minister Clement, who tells us that the Ring of Fire is the next oil sands and David Schindler, a founder of ELA, who has told you that ELA is the perfect place to do research on oil sands toxins. We need ELA to counter threats from both oil and mining.
You do not need to go west; we can do the work here, just down the road from Kenora.
United States scientists, who studied mercury fall out from U.S. coal-fired plants at ELA, did not need to move ELA to Detroit. We did not need to move ELA to Sweden to work on acid rain. Mercury, like acid rain falls across the planet.
If you believe in ELA, want to transfer it and not close it, why are you pulling out in September? Why did you not ensure that the new operator, IISD, could fund and run ELA, without government help, and then, and only then, withdraw? That is the sensible, business-like thing Canadians expected you to do with a world-class piece of Canadian scientific wizardry.
You didn’t do it. You have forced Ontario, backed up by Manitoba, to come to the rescue. Now you claim credit for solving a crisis you created!
You talk about science creating long term growth and prosperity. Clean air and water is ELA’s business and benefits cottagers, fishers, hunters and trappers and tourist outfitters. ELA creates jobs and is a training ground for scientists.
Dryden biologist, Jill Wilkinson’s work at ELA has been published; and her sister, Elissa, is a Master’s student in biology—two of many students who have worked and trained at ELA.
Do not think that your constituents will thank you for moving well-paying, knowledge jobs out of the Riding to western Canada.
You can defend your government’s decision to pull out or you can reverse it, and as the Winnipeg Free Press (August 06, 2013) suggests, join Ontario and Manitoba in a tri-partite agreement to keep ELA alive and healthy.
–Peter Kirby, Jim Johnson, Dave Schwartz, Anne Saltel, Ben Zajarny, Jo-Anne Bridgewater
ELA Support Group