Governor General upsets some with her comments on science and Divine Rights.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 11th, 2017



It’s not a compliment. Calling our federal environment minister ‘climate barbie’ is a sexist trick intended to demean her and distract the public from the serious work she is doing. But The Rebel, Canada’s alt-right publication, is using this ad hominem because they don’t have a single shred of evidence to disprove the climate science she supports.

Rebel_LogoWhy is it that The Rebel and its co-conspirators on this topic, the shrinking but determined pool of climate deniers, see this the earth’s climate as a partisan issue? And how can survival of life as we know it on this planet be even an ideological issue? This is a good question to ask as we learn that CO2 levels are now the highest they have been in a million years.

Of course climate change is happening and of course we humans are almost entirely responsible. Denying reality won’t make the problem go away or allow us to hide in an alternate universe, in the right wing. And calling an environment minister names will not change public policy in this country. At the end of the day even Mr. Harper realized that he had to take global warming seriously.

Perhaps in time his replacement, Mr. Scheer, will as well.


Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Opposition, House of Commons

Andrew Scheer has some history with The Rebel, at least through his campaign manager from the Tory leadership race. So when somebody in Catherine McKenna’s office sent a congratulatory note to two of the remaining nations to sign on to the Paris Climate Agreement, Scheer, he couldn’t help himself and fired a volley at the minister. But rather than get embroiled in squabbling over this nonsense McKenna elected to apologize and let the matter die.

It wasn’t like she was congratulating the despotic Mr. Assad on his human rights record – just that Syria was joining the rest of the world in agreeing to subscribe to global climate change targets. That by the way leaves only one significant polluter and rogue nation out of the global movement to combat this serious problem. And given what we understand about the changing climate, that is more scary for us than what’s happening in Syria.

The Rebel represents the worst in right wing extremist journalism. Their correspondents have even been banned by the Alberta government for their obnoxious behaviour. Not just a sexist rag, it has also cast itself as racist, given its response to the Quebec mosque shooting last year and its reporting of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville Virginia. Its coverage of that white supremacist event, which culminated in street violence earlier this year, led to mass resignations among the less extreme supporters of this particular medium.

But The Rebel and its publisher are not relenting, even as Post Media, the other Canadian right wing standard, is trying its best to steal some of the almost million Rebel followers to boost its own ratings. So this week veteran Post journalist, Rex Murphy, tore into Canada’s new governor general (GG) for stating the obvious, telling us what we already know about science and the challenges scientists faces in an ever skeptical world of alternate facts and social media.

Astronaut Julie Payette speaks as she presents the Quebec government the Quebec flag she brought with her in mission on Space Shuttle Mission STS-127, in Quebec City Thursday November 26, 2009. Payette says the controversial one-way mission to send people to live on Mars is going nowhere. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Clement Allard

Governor General Julie Payette

Her Excellency Julie Payette, Canada’s former astronaut has exceptional qualifications in science and was addressing a science policy conference. Along with puzzling at the wherefore of climate change denying, she moved on to question people’s faith in horoscopes before shifting to that other faith – the wording Moses supposedly wrote into the book of Genesis – the one about creation. And seriously, nearly two centuries after Darwin there are still folks out there who deny that humans are an evolved species.

And this is important since while Ontario’s separate (Catholic) schools are required to teach evolution, that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to teach human evolution. But it wasn’t just Rex ranting. Andrew Sheer also leveled both barrels at the new GG.

Then outgoing Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall jumped in, actually sending the GG a personal letter scolding her and lecturing her to better behave if she ever plans to visit his province.

But earth to Brad, the GG is head of state (Queens representative) and doesn’t need your invitation to visit Canadians anywhere. Given that the the province’s police force, the RCMP is also Canada’s national police force, it’s not clear how he would stop her anyway. And she can speak on almost any topic she chooses, after all her position is non-partisan though hardly non-political.

Human evolution is a touchy subject since it does touch on the Bible and some other belief systems, such as those held by our indigenous folk. But Scheer and Wall are likely more bothered by her comments on climate science than her observations on our acceptance, or not, of evolution. Perhaps it is the other faith – faith in the future of fossil fuels – which is most threatening them. That would account for their over-reaction to a scientist speaking science at a science conference.

Many years ago, then newly appointed governor general (GG) Ed Schreyer was guest speaker at the University of Ottawa where I received my Masters degree. A former MP and Manitoba Premier, an environmental leader and a social progressive, there was just so many topics he could have explored before the crowd of eager young graduates. Instead he plunged right into discussing the eternal struggle between the arts and the sciences.

Give me Julie Payette any day.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers




Background links:

Payette Speech –     Ed Schreyer –     Divine Intervention –     Payette Climate Change

Rex’s Attack –    More Post Attack –     Julie Payette –     Payette Defence

CO2 Highest in a Million Years –    McKenna Syria –    Climate Barbie

Separate Schools Evolution –    The Rebel and Scheer –    Scheer and Climate Change

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

10 comments to Governor General upsets some with her comments on science and Divine Rights.

  • Ray Rivers

    Thanks for your comments all. I am encouraged by your comments on climate change eryone – and Mike “On Nov. 27, (2015) Mr. Trudeau promised to put $2.65-billion into emissions-reduction projects for developing countries.

    As for the GG this is her statement – “We are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, a random process,” …..

  • D.Duck

    I don’t think I have ever read anything from you that did not ennoble the Liberal party while lambasting the PC party. It is your transparent signature and thus everyone who reads your articles, does it with dollop of scepticism.

    Your title is captures while the body of the article deviates from the continuity of the presumed message.

    No one, with an ounce of integrity or education, can dispute ‘Climate Change’ and the role that humans plan in this devastating potential environmental catastrophe. The nay-sayers use semantics to diminish humans’ contribution to this ubiquitous global event. Given the fact that the GG Payette was addressing a science policy conference, she had ever right to state the obvious facts. BUT you linking the PC party & Sheer to the repugnant Rebel by ‘six degrees to Kevin Bacon’ is incorrectly painting the PC party as Climate Change deniers. This is just poor journalism and Liberal partisan rhetoric. Your PC bashing, does nothing to unite the Federal/Provincial parties on this serious environmental issue. Try being country inclusive instead of always party exclusive.

    Finally, though GG Payette has exceptional qualifications in science, she not an expert in Theology and should never have raised her personal beliefs about religion in that facetious theatrical tone. Many scientists are religious while being proponents of evolution. One does not exclude the other.

    Finally, let’s not place GG Payette on a pedestal. She is just a human who has travelled to the stars but is still prone to all our innate human follies (Maryland Court charges withdrawn).

  • Stephen White

    Julie Payette may have been an excellent choice to head the Science Council of Canada, but as Governor-General she is way out of her depth and lacks the skills, presence and persona of her predecessor. She is not a politician, but rather, the Queen’s representative in Canada. As such, her role is largely ceremonial. She should absent herself from public discussions, and leave those matters to elected politicians. Get embroiled in a discussion of creationism vs. evolution is neither positive nor helpful.

    The Rebel is gutter journalism at its worst, and no one takes anything it says or publishes seriously. Linking the Rebel to the Conservative Party is not only disingenuous and inaccurate but it creates a connection that doesn’t exist in fact. Yes…I am sure there are some members of the Conservative Party who read it, but I’m sure I could find a few Liberals and New Democrats who do too, even if for nothing more than comic relief.

  • I'm alright now

    Is mocking not a form of bullying nowadays?

    I am guessing perhaps the Queen as “Protector of the Faith” might have some helpful pointers for the rather freshly minted GG who sits in place of the Queen here.

    Lucky Ms Payette didn’t utter such words in the time of Henry VIII. Rather her pretty head would be set atop a pike is my guess.

  • Gary

    Apologies for the typos in my post. I need to a better reading for editing before posting.

  • Gary

    Nice hatchet job on Scheer, connecting the racist, supremacist dots from the Rebel to the leader of the Conservative party. Why, anyone would be a fool to vote for such a party. You would almost think you are a dyed in the wool Liberal party supporter wilding a hatchet. Oh – wait – you are. Well, so much for the principe of balanced journalism.

    My reading of the GG’s complainants was not that she chose science over religion as much as she mocked those who have religious beliefs, which in the year 2017 comprises about 75% of the population of Canada (Rex Murphy’s point). And it is not always true that religion and science are at odds, in any event. I am sure Queen Elizabeth, whom Payette is supposed to represent, probably ground her teeth whens she read news. Good Queen Bess would never mock anyone’s religion.

  • Mike

    Ray, an interesting weaving of topics.

    On the climate change, I wish that all people would get the real discussion into focus. The climate is changing and always has been; That is not the argument. How much modern industrialization is contributing, is the point that needs covering without the all political noise and views from those with entrenched entitlements or interests. There should be no doubt that this is above 0 and less than 100. Knowing the realistic range of this is important as it will inform us as to how much we can impact the change and how soon we need to leave the planet to survive. Effects on a planetary and cosmic scale are way beyond on current capability to manage. We are just tinkerers and it is just a means to buy time.

    This brings me to my second point. No one supporting the Paris Accord seems to want to shed any light on the Green Climate Fund that has been established and will obtain increased funding from the Accord. This will be to a minimum of US$100B per year by 2020 from essentially the “western” countries to others to pay them in some cases to not increase their use of fossil fuels. So why would not every country in the world not want to sign for the new global welfare system. The U.S. will be the single largest contributor as it is to most economic aid or military aid like NATO. It’s no surprise someone like the Donald would pull them out, which surely is his tactic to negotiate a better financial deal for the U.S. Notable is that China is not listed to contribute anything according to the info I saw. Our federal government certainly has kept up their rhetoric on the Accord without telling Canadians how much we will be paying. [Then again those (personally wealthy) Liberals folks have no qualms with committing our country to pay for stuff and just borrow the money, leaving the bills for the rest of us to pay.]

    On the religion point, I think most people appreciate that discussion of this at the political level is what had led to many conflicts in history, so it just needs to be left aside for people in government related roles. Regardless of their motivations, the others were right to remind Ms. Payette of her place in being the GG – she is an important figurehead but that is all. She is smart and will adapt and I expect be a great GG.

  • Excellent. Teaching college Anthropology I always found it so strange that people still believed in Adam and Eve, or some variant thereof. It is absurd on its face. In the 1950’s I was in a Catholic monastic prep school when my biology instructor, a monk, provided a 10th grade biology course which turned out to be the equal of one I later had in college. He and the theology instructor both firmly made the point that the Catholic Church had no argument with Darwin; they required only that Catholics believe “God” infused a soul into Man in the transition from earlier Primate forms to what we know as the Genus Homo. Now, the Church is even re-thinking the exclusivity of the soul, coming into line with “Eastern” religions which have always accepted the life force or soul throughout all sentient beings.

  • Glenda D

    Love Julie Payette – a scientist speaking science at a science conference – some just don’t appreciate her intelligence. Admire this woman……and never mind what I feel about those who criticized her words, not worth the time of day on them.

  • Alide Camilleri

    Hear, hear, Ray.

    Mr. Scheer, frankly scares the heck out of me with every smiling, chubby cheeks that hide a very narrow understanding of life, science, and the limits of what the damage we have done to our little blue globe since the start of the industrial age. Our GG said it all much better than I can. People who support The Rebel are basically scared of the truth. They are scared of ‘the other’, which or whom they cannot understand.