Pop quiz

The Environment Minister was asked this afternoon to explain the contradiction reported in this story about government cuts to ozone monitoring. Twice, Peter Kent claimed the report had taken comments out of context. And then Justin Trudeau stood and declared that he was ditching his prepared question on the topic to make a more straightforward appeal.

Can the minister explain to the House what “ozone” is and what is the difference between its impact at low altitude and high altitude? I just need to know that he understands the issues.

Mr. Kent responded as follows (with a brief interruption due to heckling from the Liberal side).

Mr. Speaker, if there are any shortcomings in this House it is in the quality of the questions from the Liberal opposition. This government would gladly compare our record on the environment, in all its dimensions to … Mr. Speaker, to complete my question, again the opposition is using a questionable media source quotation of one of my staff that has been taken out of context.

Speaking with reporters after QP, Mr. Trudeau explained himself.

The question of what Canada’s doing around monitoring the ozone layer over the past months and years has come many many times in the House and we’ve got nothing but political obfuscation by the minister of the Environment. This led me to be concerned that perhaps as we had a minister of science who couldn’t define evolution, now perhaps we have a minister of the Environment who does not know what ozone is.

So I decided, and Kristy and I are environment critics, have been talking about this, joking about it almost for a few weeks, that what would it be like to stand up and ask the minister of the Environment if he could define ozone and just give him a total opportunity to make me look like a fool for asking a question that he would obviously know the answer to. The answer by the way is fairly simple. It’s an oxygen molecule with three parts, O3 molecule, it’s bad for us on low levels because it’s a contributor to smog. It’s very good for us at high levels, at altitude because it reflects ultraviolet radiation.  He could have said that. He didn’t say that, he did not, he was not able. I’m sure he’s right now going to Wikipedia, he’s going to have an answer for anyone who asks him, but the fact that this government has ignored the science, that he was unable to make me look like a fool by asking such a simple question means that – when we think of the Bali negotiations going on right now, that he’s not attending or he’s not attended yet on the renewal of the Montreal protocol on the ozone layer which was a signed in 1987 by a Progressive Conservative government of Canada, and it also  makes you wonder the questions, if he understands the climate science that he’s going to be representing us in Durban in a short while.

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