Stephen Harper’s cabinet personally approved ads

An image supplied by Alberta-based energy company TransCanada that was featured in Canadian government advertising promoting the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington.

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.

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Exxon Mobil discourages media coverage of ALEC funding

This brochure promoting TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline was distributed at a recent ALEC conference. The company says it's not a member of ALEC but that it sponsored an "ice cream social" event at the meeting.

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.

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Canadian government declines interviews on oilsands health impacts

Participants in a June 2014 "healing walk" around oilsands facilities stop near a pond filled with toxic tailings waste.

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.

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KXL PR, spin doctors & ALEC

TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline proposal linking the oilsands and Texas remained in the news in July and August 2014

TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline proposal linking the oilsands and Texas remained in the news in July and August 2014

I’ve just concluded a six-week stint at the Ottawa bureau of the Toronto Star.

Here are some of the stories we published over the course of this contract:

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Stephen Harper’s government: Oilsands toxins like BBQ steak

Calgary author Chris Turner has written a book based on evidence that the federal government is allegedly muzzling its scientists.

Calgary author Chris Turner has written a book based on evidence that the federal government is allegedly muzzling its scientists.

Ten days ago, I asked Environment Canada whether any of its scientists would be available for interviews about their research.

The department hasn’t yet answered this question along with others.

The questions arose following the publication of a new study concluding that deposits of toxic mercury were forming a bull’s eye around oilsands operations in Alberta.

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Stephen Harper’s ministers counter green groups’ “black out” with PR campaign

Published by Postmedia News on Monday June 4, 2012

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet ministers fanned out across the country Monday to counter a “black out” campaign launched by charities that are accusing the government of using budgetary measures to weaken federal environmental oversight and intimidate critics.

Led by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, the cabinet ministers used their campaign to tout the government’s budget plan and its supporting legislation, which would rewrite several environmental laws and significantly reduce the number of federal scientists monitoring Canada’s air, wildlife, waterways and oceans.

More than 500 groups, including some south of the border in the United States, symbolically blacked out their websites to protest the measures in the budget and its supporting legislation, Bill C-38. They claim the plan is the result of intensive lobby efforts from the oil and gas industry.

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