Media relations officials and diplomats discuss how to release as little information as possible about the Canadian government’s relationship with ALEC.
Getting access to records about government decisions and policies has long played a key role in the work of many journalists around the world. It will also be a key element for me in the weeks, months and years to come.
So to end off 2014, here are a few examples of some of my recent experiences with government efforts to either release or hide information.
An image supplied by Alberta-based energy company TransCanada that was featured in Canadian government advertising promoting the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington. Photo courtesy of Natural Resources Canada
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s department and his finance minister have personally approved at least two separate multimillion dollar ad campaigns paid for by taxpayers, say government officials.
Both the Finance and Natural Resources Departments said Friday that they developed the two ad campaigns “in consultation” with Joe Oliver’s office and the Privy Council Office.
One campaign, which concluded in April, promoted the Canadian oil industry in the United States. A separate ad campaign is now telling Canadians that the government is helping families.
This brochure promoting TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline was distributed at a recent ALEC conference. TransCanada said it’s not a member of ALEC but that it sponsored an “ice cream social” event at the meeting. Photo courtesy of Nick Surgey, Center for Media and Democracy.
Exxon Mobil says there is “no story” for reporters to tell about its funding for the American Legislative Exchange Council – a non-profit organization that connects lobbyists with American state legislators on secretive committees that draft model laws in a wide range of public policy issues.
Exxon Mobil also requested to speak to an editor from the Toronto Star to explain why there was “no story.”
The company said that it doesn’t deny climate change.
A new story about ALEC was published by the Toronto Star on Saturday and you can find it here.
Oilsands projects that require high pressure steam injected deep underground were excluded from a list requiring mandatory environmental reviews.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has agreed to correct a murky and secretive review process for industrial projects, says a new audit tabled in the Canadian Parliament on Tuesday.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission all told auditors in the report that they would improve weaknesses identified by the audit, including a lack of transparency, the absence of documented evidence to support decisions on project approvals, and inadequate tools to allow for public and aboriginal participation in reviews.
An Environment Canada scientist concluded that a proposed real estate project could drive the western chorus frog to extinction in habitats in La Prairie, a suburb on Montreal’s south shore. Photo courtesy of Raymond Belhumeur, Nature Québec
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is offering no explanation for a mysterious memo sent from a senior bureaucrat to the environment minister that incorrectly summarized scientific evidence from a secret report.
The memo, released through a court challenge, contradicted the warnings from an Environment Canada scientist about “imminent” danger from a major residential real estate project near Montreal that is threatening the survival of a critical population of western chorus frogs, protected under federal endangered species legislation.
Federal scientists have expressed concerns about the Energy East’s projects impacts on threatened beluga whales. Fisheries and Oceans Canada said one of its top scientists, Véronique Lesage, was not available for an interview. Photo courtesy of GREMM.
A stunning Quebec Superior Court injunction that temporarily halted exploratory work on a major cross-Canada oilsands pipeline project is raising fresh questions about whether the Canadian government muzzled a top scientist while reviewing the industry proposal.
Parks Canada says the Athabasca Glacier, a major source of water to communities and industry in Western North America, has been shrinking for 125 years and “may almost disappear within three generations.” Strong scientific evidence points to human activity as the cause of climate change, says the federal agency.
LAST UPDATED DECEMBER 9, 2014
Canada is being challenged about its own domestic record in addressing the heat-trapping pollution that contributes to global warming.
Here’s a historical timeline of some of the major climate change policies, statements and related decisions made by Canada since 2006 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was first elected to form a government.
From a pledge to introduce a carbon tax in 2007 to internal debates about climate change science, this timeline covers the promises and the action by the Canadian government in recent years.
Participants in a June 2014 “healing walk” around oilsands facilities, close to Fort McMurray, Alberta, stop near a pond filled with toxic tailings waste.
Who are Health Canada’s experts assessing human health impacts of oilsands development? And why has the federal government never done a comprehensive study of health impacts in the region after more than half a century of industrial development?
These are among the questions I asked Health Canada in early July as part of my research for this oilsands story published this week.