Canadian government: This reporter’s question “undeserving of response”

Media relations officials and diplomats discuss how to release as little information as possible about the Canadian government's relationship with ALEC.

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.

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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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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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Stephen Harper’s climate change timeline

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.

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.

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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 says Canada and Australia not avoiding climate change action

Twitter photo of PM Stephen Harper and PM Tony Abbott in Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Twitter photo of PM Stephen Harper and PM Tony Abbott in Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

OTTAWA-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott took turns Monday criticizing efforts by governments to make polluters pay for greenhouse gas emissions.

Abbott, who is visiting North America, and Harper, both said their respective governments weren’t trying to avoid dealing with the problem, but suggested they were trying to avoid damaging the economy.

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300 scientists slam “flawed” review of Enbridge pipeline

A review panel recommended approval of the pipeline proposed by Enbridge with 209 conditions.

A review panel recommended approval of the pipeline proposed by Enbridge with 209 conditions.

Some 300 scientists are urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reject a report that recommended approval of a major oil pipeline to the west coast of British Columbia, describing it as a “flawed analysis” that downplayed key environmental impacts.

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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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Welcome to my newsfeed

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Three months have passed since my last day at Postmedia News. In that time, I’ve heard from some who are curious about what I’ve been working on.

I used to archive old published stories on this page. But from now on it will be the spot to keep track of my latest investigations.

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