Marc Garneau was approached by a Parliament Hill commissionaire this week and asked: “Are we alone in the universe?”
He gets that a lot. The two-term Liberal MP from Montreal has a hard time shaking off the legacy of his earlier job – that of Canada’s first astronaut.
Although he flew his first of three missions to space 27 years ago, he doesn’t mind answering the questions. He feels he has a responsibility.
“Good question,” the 62-year-old politician said, proceeding to tell the commissionaire what he believes: We have not been visited but we are also not alone.
“I know that a large number of people believe we have been visited because they believe that some of those unexplained things in the sky must be because someone is looking at us,” he said in an interview with The Globe. “I’m not of that category.”
“But at the same time, I am 100 per cent, well not 100 per cent, but I am really, really quite certain that there must be life out there in the universe,” he asserted.
Mr. Garneau, an engineer who describes himself as a “bit of a scientist,” said that since there are “billions of solar systems, there’s got to be somewhere life is possible.”
But when it comes to having been visited by an extra-terrestrial, Mr. Garneau is clear: “I personally do not believe we have.”
“I believe that if a civilization is so advanced that it can actually time travel from some other part of the universe and come and look at planet Earth, they are not going to spend their time just sort of orbiting around and looking at us,” he said by way of explanation. “They don’t have anything to worry about. They could come down and investigate and they don’t have to make a mystery of it, and that’s never actually happened.”
Mr. Garneau, who is an admitted “Trekkie,” does not want to dash the hopes and dreams of those who believe aliens have landed. But he also believes in science and argues there are scientific explanations for various sightings.
“It’s fine to have that fantasy and the entertainment side of it and it’s mind-expanding, too, and I love that. But also once in a while we have to anchor ourselves in reality. ... I’m trying to do that with this government here – that science is important when you’re going to make policy decisions,” he said.
Still, the Liberal encounters those who refuse to believe him and instead think he’s covering something up. In response, he invokes his own time in space and stresses that he “didn’t see a thing up there.”
Just to make sure everyone know where he stands, he took to Twitter on Tuesday. “I have to tell you that we Earthlings have not yet been visited by ETs. Seriously. One day perhaps. (I know 50% of you don’t believe me)”