Maybe Trudeau and McKenna thought no one would notice. They thought wrong. Almost as soon as Environment Canada quietly announced it had approved Corexit for use as an oil dispersant word began to get around.
You see, there are people who know the name. They also know the history of this horrific chemical. There's a massive wealth of experience that goes from the Exxon Valdez disaster in Prince William Sound to the Deepwater Horizon fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico. It's literally the equivalent of thalidomide for any marine ecosystem and the people whose livelihoods depend on it. You can watch the videos here - if you've got a strong stomach.
Now Green Party leader Elizabeth May is taking Trudeau - and his laughable promise that his government will follow the science - to task.
"I am deeply disappointed that our current government is continuing the trend of making decisions based on industry recommendations rather than the evidence-based decision making process we so dearly need," said Dr. Lynne Quarmby, Green Party Science Critic, and Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University.
Last month, Environment Canada quietly released regulations that included a list of approved "treating agents" for oil spills. Corexit EC 9500A, which actually sinks oil, was on that list.
"We know from the disastrous cleanup attempts during BP's Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 that solubilizing oil with Corexit allows the toxins in oil to permeate into bodies of humans and marine animals," Dr. Quarmby said. "In one controlled study, toxicity to planktonic organisms was more than 50 times higher when Corexit was added. As we saw in the BP Gulf spill, Corexit causes oil to sink - out of sight, out of mind seems to be the environmentally disastrous plan."
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, added: "Corexit is a highly controversial chemical that doesn't actually disperse ocean oil spills so much as it makes oil sink to the ocean floor, where it is consumed by ocean life," Ms. May said.
"Environment Canada concluded there would be no expected important environmental effects, either positive or negative, by using this toxic chemical, despite growing scientific evidence that Corexit intensifies the toxicity of oil. This government promised to do better by relying on science and evidence-based decision making. This decision falls short and must be reversed," Ms. May said.
There was plenty of reason to suspect that EnviroCan was seriously compromised during the Harper era. Anything affecting pipelines and bitumen export seemed to be whether it was Fisheries & Oceans, the shuttered Coast Guard, Transport Canada and, most of all, the National Energy Board. Harper's National Energy Board was packed with oil industry shills who reached predictable conclusions through a blatantly rigged process. Today, however, it's Trudeau's National Energy Board and it's the same stacked deck only under a Liberal government. That's as inexcusable as it is telling of this prime minister.