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.
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.
Dr. John O’Connor (centre) speaks about health impacts of oilsands development on a panel with Mikisew Cree member George Poitras (left) and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam (right)
FORT McMURRAY, AB – A new study from the University of Manitoba will soon challenge industry and government claims downplaying environmental health impacts of oilsands development, said the chief of a First Nations community Friday.
“When that report comes out, it’s going to blow the socks off industry and government,” Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation told native and non-native supporters gathered at a campsite for an outdoor weekend retreat near major oilsands projects. “We went ahead and did our own independent studies and we found some very stunning results.”
Some Canadian government scientists allege that they are being muzzled
Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a strong case for parents to accept scientific evidence about the effectiveness of vaccines.
“We do have scientists and medical professionals who do great work and verify this and I just think its a tragedy when people start to go off on their own theories and not listen to the scientific evidence,” he told the CBC in an exclusive interview.
“Don’t indulge your theories, think of your children and listen to the experts.”
Within his own government, scientists and professionals who do research and gather evidence, are urging the prime minister to take a second look at his own theories.
The words “climate change” are sometimes hard to find in the Harper government’s published material.
OTTAWA-Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is describing fresh allegations of muzzling as “absolutely ridiculous.”
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Canadian Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq rejected criticism from opposition New Democratic Party MP Megan Leslie who said the government “will stop at nothing to hide the consequences of climate change.”
Published by Postmedia News on Thursday Jun 21, 2012
OTTAWA – Senior management at Environment Canada offered “blank looks” and expressed confusion after being told that cuts to a team of pollution-monitoring scientists would compromise the department’s enforcement capabilities and the credibility of its international reports, says the president of the union that represents environment employees.
Environment Minister Peter Kent, who was in Rio de Janeiro Thursday for the United Nations conference on sustainable development, was not available for comment but indicated through a spokesman that his department is still taking a scientific approach to monitoring pollution.
Kent’s office did not address specific concerns raised in the letter sent by the Union of Environment Workers. The letter said that a soon-to-be-dismantled team of scientists had audited and validated data used in recent government inventory reports on greenhouse gas emissions and indicators of environmental sustainability in Canada.
“Again it seems that your government is not concerned with obtaining the facts and is ignoring the environmental impacts in lieu of paving the way for industry to self-regulate and manage its environmental affairs,” wrote Todd Panas, president of the union, in the letter sent to Kent on May 22.