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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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 watchdog “bewildered” after Tony Abbott budget targets counterpart

The federal information commissioner has warned of significant deterioration in access to information in Canada.

The federal information commissioner has warned of significant deterioration in access to information in Canada.

GATINEAU-The looming elimination of Australia’s watchdog for government information and transparency has sparked some surprise and possibly anxiety within the office of its Canadian counterpart.

Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault told her office’s employees at a special strategy meeting Wednesday that news of the demise of the Australian information commissioner’s office was a shock since it had been praised around the world for promoting openness and transparency.

“I’m bewildered by what happened in Australia,” said Legault, the federal watchdog in Canada who monitors whether the government is respecting its legal obligations to grant the public access to its records and information. “Obviously, I don’t know the circumstances of what happened there. I’m very surprised.”

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