OTTAWA - Environmental guru David Suzuki is convinced the Harper government is secretly building prisons for people guilty of criminal charges related to eco-activism - charges he believes the government is clandestinely devising at this very moment.
Speaking on Australia's ABC TV network Monday, Suzuki assured host Tony Jones and his studio audience that he's no conspiracy theorist, it's just that, "In Canada, we now have a government that is increasing the number of prisons at a time when the rate of crime has been dropping steadily over the last 10 years."
"So I'm wondering, I'm not a guy that thinks about conspiracies, but I'm wondering whether our Prime Minister thinks he's going to be creating new categories of crime, like eco-terrorism."
Jones replied: "With all due respect, that does sound like a conspiracy theory."
The feds' take on Suzuki's claim was similar to Jones'.
"David Suzuki is showing once again how completely out of step he is with average Canadians," Jean-Christophe De Le Rue, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, told QMI Agency. "(Our 2012 budget) was clear: we have not built any new prisons and we have no plans to do so. David Suzuki is wrong once again: we only lock up criminals and terrorists."
That Suzuki was in Australia in the first place is fascinating and notes a marked change from a fairly strong position he took several years ago when he announced righteously he would no longer travel there because of the carbon emissions inherent in air travel.
He'd still talk to Australians - "but only by video conference."
Australia just elected Tony Abbot, whose conservative party won a sizable majority, and the country's environmentalists have been hyperventilating ever since.
Perhaps it was Abbot's election that prompted Suzuki to break his own vows and make the trip in person.
The political discussions in both Canada and Australia, he warned, need to shift from being driven by ideology to being evidence-based.
"We now have governments that seem to feel that the corporate agenda is the job of government and this is an issue we have to face up to," he said.
Asked by an audience member whether he still believes all climate-skeptic politicians should be jailed, Suzuki said yes.
"You bet," he said, adding he believes the criminal element is "wilful blindness.
"I really haven't thought it through, but I certainly - personally I think there is a great deal of wilful blindness and it ought to be pointed out in some way, yes."