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Thread: Fraser Institute says ignore Mulcair, our air is good

  1. #1
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    Fraser Institute says ignore Mulcair, our air is good

    Fraser Institute says ignore Mulcair, our air is good

    2013-03-15 18:17 ET - Street Wire

    by Kenneth Green and Joel Wood of the Fraser Institute

    Thomas Mulcair, federal NDP leader and leader of the opposition, has recently been berating Canada's environmental performance as he travels in the United States: "In the U.S. people know how to read," he said. "They know that Canada is the only country that has withdrawn from Kyoto. They know that the Conservatives can't possibly meet their Copenhagen targets [on greenhouse gas emissions] precisely because of the oil sands. They have to stop playing people for fools." In another presentation, Mr. Mulcair said: "I don't think we are applying the basic rules of sustainable development in Canada right now, we've been clear about that," he says when asked why he will not give a simple "yes" or "no" on whether he backs Keystone XL. The Conservative government "is not enforcing our own federal legislation, we're not protecting the groundwater, we're not protecting the eco-systems, we're not protecting first nations' health," he added. According to an article in the Globe and Mail: "He criticized Stephen Harper's Conservative government and said its willingness to gut Canadian law and flout international treaties must be reversed. Mr. Harper has created a Canada that is unrecognizable to a lot of the countries we have worked with closely over the decades and it's no longer recognizable to ourselves."

    Alas, Mr. Mulcair seems to have a rather poor grasp of the facts regarding the environment. First, Canada is not the only country to turn its back on Kyoto as Russia and Japan have refused to commit to another round of emission reduction targets and the U.S. never ratified the protocol to begin with.

    But more importantly, contrary to Mr. Mulcair's assertions, environmental quality in Canada has been improving for decades in almost every meaningful category.

    As documented in the study "Canadian Environmental Indicators -- Air Quality" in most instances, Canadians currently experience significantly better air quality than at any other time since continuous monitoring of air quality began in the 1970s. Concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide, for instance, have decreased sharply in the vast majority of locations in Canada over the past 30 years. The decrease is especially apparent in our major urban centres. Concentrations of carbon monoxide, a potent toxic emission, have decreased everywhere in Canada and since the mid-1990s have not exceeded the strictest provincial air quality objective at any of the 156 monitoring locations across the country.

    Most notably, concentrations of two of the air pollutants of greatest concern -- ground-level ozone and ultrafine particulate matter -- have generally decreased across Canada since 2000. Air quality in Canada has improved and is improving.

    And it is not simply air quality that has improved. As previous reports have documented, water quality in Canada is generally quite good, and forests are not harvested beyond levels that are considered environmental protective. More and more waste water is subject to high levels of treatment before being released to the environment, more solid waste is being diverted to recycling, soil quality has improved, and the size of protected areas has increased over recent decades. The current federal government, demonized by Mr. Mulcair as an environmental laggard, has implemented Canada's first nationwide regulations on treated and untreated waste water, Canada's largest source of water pollution. We would never suggest that Canada is free of environmental challenges -- it certainly is not, Canada is a natural resource powerhouse that faces unique environmental challenges. And as the world of energy production is changing quickly with regard to things like shale gas and oil sands production, it is certainly prudent to be alert to the potential for environmental harms. But an objective view of Canada's environmental trends hardly justifies the kind of catastrophic environmental destruction that Mr. Mulcair would have the world believe Canada is enduring. And to so badly distort Canada's record, particularly while traveling abroad, is unseemly in the leader of the opposition, who, in theory at least, serves as the "government in waiting."

    There is still progress to be made in protecting Canada's environment, but hysterical pronouncements of imminent environmental Armageddon do not contribute much to the process of deriving environmental policy that balances environmental protection with economic growth. Striking that balance based on sober facts and sound judgment should be the goal of Canada's government, both those currently in power, and those who would like to be.
    it seems pretty obvious to me that the federal ndp are doing EVERYTHING in their power to AVOID winning the next or any other election... i mean who wants to govern when you can get paid to travel and deliver 'lectures' for a living?
    believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you actually see - question EVERYTHING...

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by vancity_cowboy View Post
    it seems pretty obvious to me that the federal ndp are doing EVERYTHING in their power to AVOID winning the next or any other election... i mean who wants to govern when you can get paid to travel and deliver 'lectures' for a living?

    I'm not sure what exactly is the point you're trying to make? The propaganda spiced with lies and fantasy is about air quality/environment and other delusions on our present government's embarassing record and performance in these and more areas. All that nauseating nonsense in an apparent effort to somehow make it appear as if the comments quoted are even questionable, debatable, remotely extreme or untrue when in reality they're extremely mild and certainly uncontroversial.

    But then you talk about winning elections and giving lectures for a living...uh?

    No offence but.......wth are you talking about?lol You lost me.

  3. #3
    Fraser Institute?

    Vancouver Observer / Alexis Stoymenoff / April 25, 2012 –

    In four years alone, U.S. Tea Party architects the Koch brothers poured half a million dollars into Canadian right-wing think tank, the Fraser Institute.

    As the Conservative assault continues against Canadian environmental charities, the Vancouver Observer has learned that since 2007, foreign oil billionaires the Koch brothers have donated over half a million dollars to the “charitable” right-wing Fraser Institute.

    According to U.S. tax documents, the Fraser Institute received $150,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation in 2008, $175,500 in 2009, and another $150,000 in 2010. The grants were purportedly for “research support” and “educational programs”.

    Prior to 2008, the Institute received another $25,000 in funding from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, which is under the umbrella of Koch Family Foundations.

    It has long been known that the ultra-conservative Koch Brothers have been donors for the conservative policy think-tank—though this information is not listed the Institute’s Annual Reports—however, the extent of their funding in the past few years demonstrates the foundation’s more recent influence in Canadian politics.

    Grants to the Fraser Institute are also among the highest amounts listed in the Koch Foundation’s tax records; apart from a few substantial grants to American universities, most of the other donations were under $10,000.

    Charitable foundation conducting “intensely” political activity

    The Fraser Institute, described by rabble.ca as “Canada’s most intensely political organization”, is a registered non-profit focused on economic and public policy research. The group’s work is often seen as controversial (which they boast about on the website), and is generally in support of conservative, small-government, free-market values.

    While the federal government and pro-oil lobbyists have taken aim at environmental charities for allegedly violating the Canadian Revenue Agency’s legal limits for “political activity”, the Fraser Institute and its charitable status remain unquestioned. And as the Koch Foundation’s tax data shows, they’ve received a significant amount of “foreign funding” to help influence Canadian policy—which is precisely what environmental groups have been accused of doing.

    The Fraser Institute claims to be “non-partisan and non-political”, and denies that it undertakes lobbying activities. However, critics cite examples of its blatantly political endeavors—like publicly calling on the government to change election spending laws, or pushing provinces to adopt “right-to-work” legislation.

    Like other Koch-funded initiatives claiming that climate change fears are vastly overstated, the Institute has published a number of reports and commentaries about policy reactions to climate “alarmism”. The organization also received $120,000 from oil giant ExxonMobil in 2003, to help fund what they called “climate research”, according to Vancouver Sun reports from 2006.

    Engineers of the Tea Party have interests in Canadian politics – and oil fields

    As rulers of the oil and gas-based Koch Industries empire, Charles and David Koch have poured hundreds of millions of charitable dollars into lobby groups, advocacy organizations, educational institutes and conservative campaigns across North America. They have also been linked to extensive climate denial efforts in the U.S., and are often called the “financial engine” behind the Tea Party movement.

    In addition, the Koch brothers have been said to have “substantial interests” in the Canadian oil sands and the building of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Though the two businessmen repeatedly claimed to have no connection to the proposed pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, Koch subsidiary Flint Hills Resources Canada was involved in the Canadian regulatory review process for Keystone as an intervenor.

    In a submission to the National Energy Board, Flint Hills explained that it “is among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters. Consequently, Flint Hills has a direct and substantial interest in the [Keystone XL] application”.

    According to environmental news site InsideClimateNews, Koch Industries’ Calgary-based Flint Hills operation supplies about 250,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day to a Koch-owned refinery in Minnesota. Flint Hills also reportedly operates a crude oil terminal in Hardisty, Alberta, the starting point of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

    “Koch Industries is already responsible for close to 25 percent of the oil sands crude that is imported into the United States, and is well-positioned to benefit from increasing Canadian oil imports,” reads a 2011 InsideClimateNews article.

    A tangled web

    The Koch Brothers’ ties to Canadian politics and industry don’t end at the oil sands. In fact, there are a number of interesting connections between the Koch foundations, the Fraser Institute, the Harper government, and Canadian pro-oil lobby group Ethical Oil.

    For instance, Sun TV host Ezra Levant (author of Ethical Oil) completed an internship with the Charles G. Koch Foundation in 1994, before heading to work at the Fraser Institute in 1995. Kathryn Marshall, Ethical Oil’s former spokesperson, worked at the Fraser Institute as well. And Reform Party founder Preston Manning, also founder of the conservative Manning Centre for Building Democracy, is currently a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

  4. #4
    Wasn't there an issue where the 2011/2012 progress report from the government was tweaked to show a baseline difference that enabled the report to show a reduction? I am sorry but any government that muzzles their scientist (http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/st...missioner.html) is hard to trust when it comes to reports being released.
    Other issues of information being manipulated/abandoned etc:
    1) Statistics with doing away of the long form (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/stor...-can-data.html)
    2) Hidden agreements with other super powers (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/stor...ith-china.html)
    3) Not including data (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/...ution-pah.html)

    This is just a light search as well. So that points to a possible integrity issue that is with the report that the Fraser institute is using.
    Then again, milk has it about right when it comes to the Fraser institute. Pay me enough money and I can show stats that the federal government is doing well too.

  5. #5
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    well I work in a business that uses many scientists, and almost all companies in that business are required to report to shareholders and regulatory agencies on a very regular basis

    in that industry, EVERYBODY is muzzled, from the scientists to the secretaries to the accountants to the consultants to the Chairmen of the Boards of Directors. there is a VERY set protocol for releasing news to the shareholders and the public agencies. and the news always gets changed SUBSTANTIALLY from the time the initial report on data leaves the scientist's computer until the time the news is released to the shareholders and the public. By the time the corporate lawyers, the accountants and the regulatory agencies all have their say and give approval to the ultimate language, often the scientist can barely recognize his own work. however, one thing that cannot be changed, by law, is the original data and it's direct technical interpretation

    if the scientist becomes alarmed that the data is being corrupted, there is a set procedure for raising an objection. if that procedure does not satisfy the scientist's concerns, then the final avenue open to him is called, 'whistle blowing.' and believe me, whistle blowing IS final. usually the scientist will lose their job, regardless if they are right or wrong, and they often lose their reputation among their peers as well. but if the alteration of the original data is severe enough, then it has to be done

    i see absolutely no reason why there should be any difference between a scientist working for the federal government and a scientist working for private industry. they all have to be muzzled after submitting the data to the lawyers, accountants, the regulators and the Board of Directors (they used to be called the Board of Governors in an earlier age) for final approval

    they should all be held to the same standards
    believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you actually see - question EVERYTHING...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lost-In-Japan View Post
    The difference is that I pay the salary of the scientists working for the Feds.
    They use my money to do research and until lately have reported back to me.
    Now, they no longer report back to me, but to the CONs, who then bury the data if it doesn't support their ideology.
    I doubt very much that anybody EVER reported directly back to you without having their work scrutinized by their superiors, a group of peers, and yes, the political process. if the work is NOT reviewed by peers and superiors - it is NOT considered real science. a scientist disseminating information without the foregoing process is just a loose cannon

    also, members of the investing public have ALWAYS paid the salary of the scientists. the difference is you have NO choice in being a member of the investing public for government scientists... and that is NOT the fault of any party. it's the result of our political ideology

    try living in russia or china and see how many scientists can report directly or even indirectly to the public
    believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you actually see - question EVERYTHING...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lost-In-Japan View Post
    We're not in a free-information race with draconian regimes, if we were, then there would be virtually nothing at all to complain about.
    How Canadian would that be now?
    i think you've touched on something there...

    but yes, I do think the entire 'muzzled scientists' drama is a HUGE cook job on the part of the popular media, who have taken it upon themselves to be the unofficial opposition to a government whose official opposition is currently in disarray

    after all... drama sells!
    believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you actually see - question EVERYTHING...

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    Quote Originally Posted by vancity_cowboy View Post
    it seems pretty obvious to me that the federal ndp are doing EVERYTHING in their power to AVOID winning the next or any other election... i mean who wants to govern when you can get paid to travel and deliver 'lectures' for a living?
    Mulcair is a fucking clown who has done nothing but pander to the leftist voters of Quebec as well as the union minded voters of Ontairio since he took the leadership of the NDP.The only reason the NDP made suck huge gains in the last election in Quebec was because the late Mr.Layton ran such an effective campaigne that the
    majority of voters who were unsatisfied with the BLOC thought that Mr.Layton was who they were
    voting for for their specific riding.

    To address another point....the NDP did not win the last election....they merely became the official opposition.Though the attitude of the NDP via Mr.Layton and via the new leader Mr.Mulcair (ass-clown) is an
    attitude that the party got cheated out of an election and the right to govern Canada.

    The NDP is going to get a wake up during the next federal election and also lose the opposition status.
    I predict another Harper lead Tory majority government in 2015 with the Justin Tredeau liberal's
    thrashing the NDP and also the BLOC gaining seats as well.

    SR

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    Quote Originally Posted by vancity_cowboy View Post
    who wants to govern when you can get paid to travel and deliver 'lectures' for a living?

    Who?

    Well, people who get personal stylists, can afford to pay 1 million $ to take their (Cadillac) car along when they travel to India (!), people who have their own private airplane....to just name a few of the perks. I mean, really, no contest which one I'd choose.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by vancity_cowboy View Post
    i think you've touched on something there...

    but yes, I do think the entire 'muzzled scientists' drama is a HUGE cook job on the part of the popular media, who have taken it upon themselves to be the unofficial opposition to a government whose official opposition is currently in disarray

    after all... drama sells!

    You've to be kidding me. The media has not "taken it on themselves to be the unofficial opposition", not that it would be a bad thing if they did. The media's job isn't to be the government's cheerleader or its mouthpiece, which in reality, it very often is. The media's job is to get the truth, to challenge and question what the government does and says. If you have a problem with that, perhaps you would appreciate China's media. But our media is shitty enough as it is that I'm flabbergasted that someone would actually complain about the media "taking it upon itself to be the unofficial opposition"! I mean, what exactly do you expect them to do?!

    I think you need lessons on what a democracy is supposed to be and decide whether it's something you value because right now, this whole post is about you basically arguing that we don't need democracy and are just being capricious when we demand it. Seriously. Thats messed up and what you're saying is just plain scary....and absurd (sorry).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by vancity_cowboy View Post

    but yes, I do think the entire 'muzzled scientists' drama is a HUGE cook job on the part of the popular media

    Nonsense! Give your head a shake.




    From Nature journal - February 2012:



    Canada's government should free its scientists to speak to the press, as its US counterpart has.

    Media interactions with government scientists have undergone a reversal across North America during the past six years. In the United States, President Barack Obama's administration has directed federal science agencies to develop integrity policies with clear guidelines for scientists who are approached by journalists.

    In December, agencies including the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued guidelines that promote openness with the press. For instance, NOAA and NSF-funded scientists and staff are free to speak to journalists without first seeking the approval of a public-affairs officer. The NSF's policy states that researchers are free to express their personal views as long as they make clear that they are not speaking on behalf of the agency. And scientists also have right of review over agency publications and press releases that claim to represent their expert opinions. Such policies may not be implemented successfully in all cases, but they show that attitudes have evolved encouragingly since 2006, when charges that then-president George W. Bush's administration had silenced US government researchers made front-page news.

    Over the same period, Canada has moved in the opposite direction. Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party won power in 2006, there has been a gradual tightening of media protocols for federal scientists and other government workers. Researchers who once would have felt comfortable responding freely and promptly to journalists are now required to direct inquiries to a media-relations office, which demands written questions in advance, and might not permit scientists to speak. Canadian journalists have documented several instances in which prominent researchers have been prevented from discussing published, peer-reviewed literature. Policy directives and e-mails obtained from the government through freedom of information reveal a confused and Byzantine approach to the press, prioritizing message control and showing little understanding of the importance of the free flow of scientific knowledge.

    The Harper government's poor record on openness has been raised by this publication before (see K. O'Hara Nature 467, 501; 2010), and Nature's news reporters, who have an obvious interest in access to scientific information and expert opinion, have experienced directly the cumbersome approval process that stalls or prevents meaningful contact with Canada's publicly funded scientists. Little has changed in the past two years: rather than address the matter, the Canadian government seems inclined to stick with its restrictive course and ride out all objections.

    That position is coming under increasing pressure as a result of the scientific-integrity policies taking shape across the border. The clarity of the US guidelines undercuts the Canadian government's assertion that its own media policies are adequate and have simply been misunderstood. If the Harper government truly embraces public access to publicly funded scientific expertise, then it should do what the Canadian Science Writers' Association and several other organizations have called for in a letter sent to the prime minister on 16 February: “implement a policy of timely and transparent communication” like those used by NOAA and the NSF.

    The letter coincided with a symposium, 'Unmuzzling Government Scientists: How to Re-open the Debate', which was held last week at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, Canada. With the country taking centre stage as the meeting's host, the Harper government found its media policies in the international spotlight. Scientists and other visitors from around the globe discovered, to their surprise, that Canada's generally positive foreign reputation as a progressive, scientific nation masks some startlingly poor behaviour. The way forward is clear: it is time for the Canadian government to set its scientists free.


    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...l/483006a.html




    Angry scientists and academics are accusing the Stephen Harper government of muzzling and censoring its scientists to the point that research cannot be published, even when there is collaboration with international researchers, unless it matches government policy.

    Under revised Fisheries and Oceans Canada rules, scientists working in its central and Arctic region cannot be involved in publishing research until a DFO division administrator has reviewed it “for any concerns/impacts to DFO policy.”

    That amounts to censoring scientific findings, says Jim Turk, Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director.

    “The federal government wants to control what scientists do and what they find and how it’s reported. They want to suppress findings that can be seen as being against their political objectives,” Turk said.

    A letter written to Harper Thursday on behalf of the 68,000 CAUT members expresses “deep dismay and anger at your government’s attack on the independence, integrity and academic freedom of scientific researchers.”

    The latest changes run contrary to the spirit of free scientific inquiry and smack of political censorship, the letter says.

    It is part of a pattern that has seen the Harper government reduce media access to scientists and cut funding and programs, Turk said.

    ..

    “It means that international scientists will not want to collaborate with Canadian scientists,” he said. “This is reminiscent of the Cold War era, with the KGB in Russia … George Orwell would just be chuckling in his grave.”

    Demands from DFO that foreign researchers sign restrictive agreements have upset Andreas Muenchow, a University of Delaware oceanographer who has collaborated with Canadian scientists on Arctic research.

    In a blog posting Muenchow wrote: “I believe this is a disturbing political climate change … I feel that it threatens my academic freedom and potentially muzzles my ability to publish data.”

    The policy is substantially different from the 2003 Canadian government agreement, he wrote.

    Rick Kool, Royal Roads University associate professor in the school of environment and sustainability, said the clampdown illustrates the government’s control-the-message mindset.

    “They are moving toward a managed democracy where people get to vote every few years and the winning party rules, not governs. When you see yourself as a ruler, you can ignore science and data,” he said.

    “There’s a shackling of science when it doesn’t give convenient answers and doesn’t serve the political interest.”

    Without knowing the science, especially in areas such as climate change, governments cannot come up with good policies, Kool said.

    ..

    http://www.timescolonist.com/news/lo...cs-say-1.75280




    Wake-the-hell-up!




    In a move that stunned and appalled scientists around the world the Harper government laid off as many as 40 scientists associated with the legendary program working out the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Winnipeg's office.

    According to Ottawa's tiresome newspeak, the program no longer "aligned with the department's mandate and is not responding to our research priorities."

    The killing of the program is the latest in a series of coordinated attacks on environmental science and the gutting of most of the nation's environmental legislation. It not only trashes Canada's international reputation but confirms the Harper government's pathological hatred for science of any kind.

    In fact the country has now officially entered a Dark Age for science. After spending $2.5 million renovating the Arctic Institute of North America's Kluane Research Station, the Harper government just eliminated the funding for the global leader in climate change and boreal mammal research. It also provided federal Arctic researchers at a recent Montreal conference with Iraqi-like minders to control their comments. Nature, one of the world's foremost science magazines, has written editorials about the muzzling of Canadian scientists.

    In this new political order of attacks on science and environmentalists, the closure of the ELA program takes on special significance. The irrational decision strikes most scientists as a feat of colossal stupidity, economic folly and ideological backwardness.

    ELA said to be 'best in the world'

    "The ELA is, in my opinion, the best known freshwater research facility in the world. You can be at any aquatics conference in Europe or Asia or anywhere and you don't even have to say Experimental Lakes Area -- just ELA -- and everyone knows what you are talking about," John Smol told The Tyee. Smol holds the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change at Queen's University and is recognized as one of Canada's most honored scientists.

    "My first reaction was, 'You have got to be kidding,' which fairly quickly moved to 'Why am I surprised?' This is just another attack on the war against the environment."

    Ragnar Elmgren, a distinguished Swedish ecologist, called the closing of the ELA "an act of wanton destruction of the scientific value" that would leave "Canada much less prepared to tackle the important challenges of managing its freshwaters under climate change."

    Added Elmgren in an email to Canadian politicians: "This is the kind of act one expects from the Taliban in Afganistan, not from the government of a civilized and educated nation."

    Jim Elser, a highly respected aquatic scientist at Arizona State University, described the destruction of the ELA both pennywise and pound foolish in an email. "It's not an example of good governance." The world offers very few places where scientists can study whole ecosystems in a remote location aided by an excellent research facility as well as decades of baseline data, adds Elser. "ELA is completely and totally unique and unmatched in offering all three."

    "I was pretty shocked," added Harvard University aquatic sciences professor Elsie Sunderland in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press. "This is one of the foremost research projects and places to do research in the world. To have it shut down is just appalling. It's just embarrassing."

    ...

    http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/05/23/Harper-Kills-ELA/



    LET CANADA’S SCIENTISTS SPEAK
    http://sciencewriters.ca/initiatives...al_scientists/


    http://www.scienceuncensored.ca/


    Tightening the grip: muzzling of scientists ramps up
    http://elizabethmaymp.ca/news/public...ists-ramps-up/


    New policy gives government power to muzzle DFO scientists
    http://www.ipolitics.ca/2013/02/07/n...fo-scientists/


    Scientists shocked after Harper government assigns IT staff to monitor ozone data
    http://o.canada.com/2012/09/14/scien...or-ozone-data/


    Canadian Scientists 'Mourn Death of Evidence' under Harper Government
    Protest march will highlight public harm done by gutting of research programs
    https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/07/10


    Why the Harper Majority is a Step Back for Science – Let Us Count the Ways
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/in.../#.UUuS7BzsORs


    I could find you dozens of similarly disturbing articles. You really need to inform yourself before you make comments like that. Seriously.

  12. #12
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    final


    New report on Harper government interference with science communication in Canada
    March 20, 2013


    The continuing saga of the Harper government's suppression and manipulation of public communication by Canadian government scientists is documented in a new report from the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. The report concludes: "The policy changes that have been implemented by the federal government of Canada under the leadership of Prime Minister Harper have dramatically affected the way government information is disseminated in Canada. ... Federal civil servants in Canada, and in particular scientists, are being muzzled by the federal government."

    Report from the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Victoria in British Columbia: Muzzling Civil Servants: A Threat to Democracy?


    The report begins with a request to Suzanne Legault, Information Commissioner of Canada:

    ... We request that you initiate an investigation under s. 30(1)(f) of the Access to Information Act into the systematic efforts by the Government of Canada to obstruct the right of the media – and through them, the Canadian public -- to timely access to government scientists. We ask you to take this step because of the deeply troubling findings in the attached report, Muzzling Civil Servants: A Threat to Democracy. ...



    As noted in the attached report:

    • The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, that represents government scientists, has stated:

    Media and public access to federal scientists has become politicized, resulting in an inability to effectively communicate important scientific news to Canadians through mainstream media.

    • A letter to the Prime Minister signed by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, World Federation of Science Journalists, and Canadian Science Writers Association stated:

    Over the past four years, journalists and scientists alike have exposed the disturbing practices of the Canadian government in denying journalists timely access to government scientists...federal scientists are still not allowed to speak to reporters without the “consent” of media relations officers...Delays in obtaining interviews are often unacceptable and journalists are routinely denied interviews.

    • The internationally respected science journal, Nature, echoed such experiences and concerns in an editorial.

    • An Environment Canada analysis has found that Environment Canada scientists: ...are very frustrated with the new process. They feel the intent of the policy is to prevent them from speaking to media.

    • The President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada has stated: This government, by suppressing access to this information, is depriving the Canadian and international communities of significant discoveries.

    • A prominent academic who was a leading scientific member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize has stated:

    There is no question that there is an orchestrated campaign at the federal level to make sure that their scientists can’t communicate to the public about what they do.

    • Another prominent academic has stated: We have somehow deemed it OK or permissible for an Iron Curtain to be drawn across the communication of science in this country.

    In the past, government scientists could generally share information about their work without such restrictions. This helped citizens become informed, and helped them discover what information – and possibly also what records -- Government possessed. This practice educated citizens, enriched public debate, and encouraged sound government decision-making. However, the federal government has developed new policies that undermine the ability of media and the public to obtain information from government scientists. As the report documents:

    • The federal government has implemented new policies that routinely require political approval before scientists can speak to the media about their scientific findings. Government scientists are routinely instructed to not speak publicly – or to respond with pre-scripted “approved lines” that have been vetted by public relations specialists.

    • For example, under Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) policy, Communications staff now comprehensively control interviews with scientists and “ensure that approved media lines are in place.” No journalist is to be granted an interview until the Minister’s own Director of Communications has been notified.

    • Natural Resources Canada has adopted particularly strict rules restricting the ability of scientists to talk to the media about “climate change” and “oil sands.”

    • Environment Canada’s policy specifically forbids scientists from speaking to the public on identified issues such as climate change or protection of polar bear and caribou until the Privy Council Office gives approval. Environment Canada has conceded that the Minister and his staff have a say as to whether or not the media will have access to a scientist.


    The report goes on to document a number of specific incidents where scientists have been prevented from sharing their taxpayer-funded research with the media and the Canadian public.

    Restricting media access cuts off the public’s access to government scientists’ information and viewpoints. The media plays an irreplaceable role in the democratic process – by disseminating information to the public. The role of the media has been formally recognized as critically important by the Supreme Court of Canada:

    The role of investigative journalism has expanded over the years to help fill what has been described as a democratic deficit in the transparency and accountability of our public institutions.

    Cutting off access to government’s best information on an issue damages the quality of public debate.



    From the report's Conclusion:

    The policy changes that have been implemented by the federal government of Canada under the leadership of Prime Minister Harper have dramatically affected the way government information is disseminated in Canada. The Obama administration has also made changes to Communications policies in the United States; however, these changes have been in the opposite direction. Many departmental communications policies now require all media inquiries to be routed through Communications departments. These departments dictate whether or not media inquiries will be responded to and also control all other aspects of the release of government information to the public.

    Federal civil servants in Canada, and in particular scientists, are being muzzled by the federal government. Muzzling occurs directly or indirectly; civil servants who are not permitted to speak with the media, or who are not permitted to speak with the media in a time frame that is compatible with the fast-paced media environment, are effectively being muzzled. The federal government is also manipulating the release of government information by selectively permitting or disallowing responses to media inquiries, using communications employees to craft “approved lines” or provide scripted answers to civil servants, and through subtle means of intimidation when allowing civil servants to respond directly to media inquiries, such as requiring all interviews to be recorded or for a communications employee to be present at the time of the interview.

    Canada was once recognized internationally as a country that encouraged its scientists to speak freely and openly to the public. However, the federal government is taking steps in the wrong direction and has drawn international criticism in recent years. Even more alarming is the fact that the federal government has ignored all such criticism and seems intent on continuing down this path. Access to government information is a vital part of a healthy democracy. As Nature journal once put it: "The way forward is clear: it is time for the Canadian government to set its scientists free."

    ..

    But one researcher with well over a decade of experience in the civil service, who asked to remain anonymous because he said both management and his union have told him he could face penalties for speaking out publicly, called the situation “absolutely embarrassing.”

    “All of my colleagues around the world know about this, and they simply can’t understand what is going on in Canada,” the scientist said.

    ...

    The report ... details how public relations staff accompanied researchers to an International Polar Year conference, and directed all requests for interviews through themselves. In two high-profile incidents, scientists researching Arctic ozone loss, and others studying salmon declines, were not given media clearance for weeks or months. ...



    http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2...ion-in-canada/

  13. #13
    nice replies Miss*Bijou
    I was going to go your route and provide more factual information but then the sheer apathy (eg. all politicians suck) of some people and the weird "lets suspend facts" when its my governing party responses, pretty much made me realize it was pointless
    Good job though

  14. #14
    hard riding member
    Join Date
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    well thank you ms bijou, ma'am... for providing the proof of the points I was trying to make... good work
    believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you actually see - question EVERYTHING...

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by vancity_cowboy View Post
    well thank you ms bijou, ma'am... for providing the proof of the points I was trying to make... good work
    .

    Try addressing her posts, road apple.

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