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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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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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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Four strange details about Keystone XL pipeline debate

A scarecrow stands guard to prevent birds from landing on an oilsands tailings pond.

A scarecrow stands guard to prevent birds from landing on an oilsands tailings pond near Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Here are four unusual details about the debate surrounding TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline proposal:

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