Leona Aglukkaq is silent on altered evidence in frog memo

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

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.

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Energy East oil terminal threatens belugas: federal scientists

Federal scientists have expressed concerns about the Energy East's projects impacts on threatened beluga whales. Photo courtesy of GREMM.

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.

At least two federal departments, Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, gave a green light for the exploratory work, including major drilling and seismic testing in the port of Cacouna, Quebec, in the heart of the critical habitat of threatened St. Lawrence beluga whales.

Alberta-based TransCanada needs to complete the exploratory work as part of plans for an oil terminal on the St. Lawrence River for its proposed multibillion dollar Energy East pipeline.

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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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Chief Allan Adam: Oilsands health study to “knock socks” off industry, government (with video)

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)

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.”

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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 evidence: Top 10 quotes from federal scientists in Canada

Some Canadian government scientists allege that they are being muzzled

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.

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Muzzling allegations are “absolutely ridiculous” says Canadian environment minister

The words "climate change" are sometimes hard to find in the Harper government's published material.

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.”

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Government’s weather forecasters shouldn’t discuss climate change, says Environment Canada

Weather forecasters at Environment Canada aren’t supposed to discuss climate change in public, says a Canadian government spokesman.

Environment Canada made the comments in response to emailed questions about its communications policy.

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Scientist surfaces to praise ozone monitoring amidst federal review

published Oct. 21, 2011 by Postmedia News

OTTAWA – A senior Environment Canada scientist whose job may be eliminated through budget cuts has highlighted the importance of maintaining the country’s world-leading atmospheric monitoring network after new research showed a record hole in the planet’s ozone layer above the Arctic.

David Tarasick was among four Canadian authors of the international study, published Oct. 2 in the British scientific journal Nature, that reported on the hole – twice the size of Ontario – in the ozone layer that protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful radiation.

Until now, the Conservative government, facing criticism about its decision to review resources in the monitoring network, has prevented Tarasick from speaking publicly about the research.

“We’ve been doing this (for) about 45 years now,” Tarasick said in a telephone interview supervised by Environment Canada officials. “The Canadian stations have been the backbone of the global network (of monitoring) ever since we started measuring ozone.”

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