Last Summer, we wrote about the tragic decision by Canada's federal government to shut down the ground-breaking Experimental Lake Area (ELA) freshwater research project. At the time, the decision seemed purely based on politics and ideology rather than anything having to do with the actual work being done there since the ELA was a successful, low-cost project that had been doing quality science for 40 years. What's the point of closing one of the best freshwater research centers in the world that only costs $2 million a year (basically statistical noise in a multi-billion budget), especially when the cost of closing it down would be around $50 million (for remediation and such), enough to keep it going for a quarter of a century.
Well, politics almost caused the death of the ELA, and politics is now resurrecting it. Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of the province of Ontario, has vowed to fix the federal government's mistake. It's not yet entirely clear how exactly the ELA will be kept open, but I'm pretty sure that $2 million can be found somewhere in the province's bloated budget.
Provincial officials insist Ontario is serving as a facilitator, having reached out to both the federal and Manitoba governments to get the ball rolling to transfer the ELA to the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development. But Ms. Wynne seemed unable to resist a veiled shot at Stephen Harper’s Conservatives when she made her announcement, describing hers as a government that “believes in science, believes in evidence.” (source)
Whatever the motivations behind this, I'll take it. We need more programs like the ELA, not fewer.