Opinion Column

Payette dividing in position of unity

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

The thing about science is it acknowledges humans don’t know everything.


It evolves. It grows. It becomes increasingly more complex and proves theories we’ve known to be true for years, decades, and centuries, perhaps, to be wrong.

In fact, many of the scientists and science-minded people I know believe that little can be proven to be right, and everything has the potential to be proven wrong.

Research and the information available to us now won’t necessarily hold true for the rest of time. It’s only “right” for right now, until science evolves and we find a way to disprove it, or discover a variable we hadn’t considered before.

One would think, therefore, that a woman of science like Governor General Julie Payette would be a little more open to the beliefs and ideas of others, but that’s one theory she’s proven wrong just a little over a month into her new role.

In fact, not only was she less open to those with opposing views, she openly mocked and criticized them at a science conference in Ottawa.

“Can you believe that still today in learned society, in houses of government, unfortunately, we’re still debating and still questioning whether humans have a role in the Earth warming up or whether even the Earth is warming up, period,” Payette said.

“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.”

Her tone was one of awe and disbelief that anyone could disagree with her personal views on not only climate change, but astrology and how life was brought to Earth. How could anyone be so ignorant as to believe in something bigger than themselves, she seemed to ask.

The irony is that if someone is ignorant here, it just might be her.

Her position is a ceremonial one. She’s meant to not only be the Queen’s representative, but an envoy of all Canadians - be they believers, non-believers or otherwise. She is supposed to stand for unity of the nation.

Instead, she chose to divide those who believe in science and those who believe in a higher power. Prime Minister Justrin Trudeau backed her by saying his government is grounded in science and applauding her for standing by her convictions.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, careful not to criticize Payette, said it was “extremely disappointing that the Prime Minister will not support Indigenous peoples, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Christians and other faith groups who believe there is truth in their religion. Respect for diversity includes respect for the diversity of religious beliefs, and Justin Trudeau has offended millions of Canadians with his comments.”

He isn’t wrong. Diversity and inclusion should involve all religious beliefs - and according to Angus Reid, in 2015, two thirds of all Canadians believe in God and more than half believe He is active on Earth.

Who does Payette think she is to tell the majority of Canadians that their beliefs are bogus because science hasn’t proven them to be true in her eyes?

Who does she think she is to place more merit on science than the beliefs of the majority of Canadians? How is that representing all Canadians?

When she was picked by Trudeau, I had to admit that I had suspicions this sort of incident would occur. Something told me there would be a time when Trudeau would use the Governor General to further the idea that Conservatives are against science - something that was rolled out in his campaign in 2015 - and Liberals stand firmly behind it. If it wasn’t that, it would be to push his pseudo-feminist image.

Honestly, I don’t even blame Trudeau for that. Politically, I suppose it could be seen as a smart move to gain support from the supposedly impartial Governor General and he’s entitled to do as such.

The issue, however, is that Payette so far isn’t doing much to support the idea that she is impartial and not on the side of one of the federal political parties.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t have complete faith in her right now to make an impartial decision should a difficult situation arise in Parliament.

But there’s still time to prove me wrong. 

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