Harper Government

Wed, 2015-03-04 13:33Sean Holman
Sean Holman's picture

When Journalists Get Mad

I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

That was how some journalists seemed to respond last week to an open letter I wrote about how government communications staff are helping to kill democracy.

But, if we want to save it, we’re going to need to do more than just throw open our windows, stick our heads out and yell about the non-answers we often get from those spin doctors.

In that letter, which was published in J-Source, The Tyee, DeSmog Canada and the Yukon News, I wrote about how those non-answers are actually a refusal to “provide the public with information. And if the public doesn’t know what their government is actually doing, it can continue doing things the public wouldn’t want it to do.”

Those words were shared on Facebook and retweeted hundreds of times, with one reporter in the Yukon stating, “I think it’s fair to say the frustration levels of journalists in this country are rising.”

Tue, 2015-03-03 10:05Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

CSIS “Can Neither Confirm Nor Deny” Spying on Me (Or You For That Matter)

When I asked the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) whether it has files on me or DeSmog Canada, I got a response that's been used as a non-answer by government spokespeople and celebrity publicists for 40-plus years: We can “neither confirm nor deny” the records exist.

The intelligence body doesn't have to disclose such information because it's exempt from Canada’s Access to Information legislation since it relates to “the detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities.”

Hmph. Some part of me was expecting them to simply say “no.” While non-denial denial responses like this are pretty par for the course when dealing with intelligence services — the phrase was first conjured up during a clandestine CIA submarine operation in the 1970s — it's disconcerting in light of the federal government’s proposed anti-terrorism bill C-51, which would increase the powers of CSIS and its role in government-sponsored spying.

As others have pointed out, bill C-51 will allow dangerously strong measures to be taken against even perceived terror threats or individuals that pose a threat to Canada’s critical infrastructure, such as pipelines, or the nation’s financial security.

Thu, 2015-02-26 10:18Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Prime Minister and Allies Working to 'Neutralize' Environmental Opposition, Says Harperism Author Donald Gutstein

prime minister stephen harper, Harperism

In his recent book Harperism: How Stephen Harper and His Think Tank Colleagues have Transformed Canada, author and adjunct SFU professor Donald Gutstein outlines a battle being waged in Canada for the “climate of ideas.”

The Prime Minister is often thought of as a lone wolf, “the rogue conservative who marches to his own drummer.” But it’s not so, argues Gutstein. Harper is merely “one side of an ideological coin.”

The flipside is the network of key influencers — politicians, industry titans, think tanks, journalists — who work to advance not just Harper’s agenda, but the agenda of neoliberalism that serves powerful private interests, Gutstein says.

Mon, 2015-02-23 11:03Sean Holman
Sean Holman's picture

The Tyranny of the Talking Point

Dear government spin doctor,

I am working on a story about how the job you’re doing is helping to kill Canada’s democracy.

I know that your role, as a so-called communications professional, is to put the best spin on what the government is or isn’t doing.

That means you often don’t respond the questions I ask, you help elected officials do the same thing and you won’t let me talk to those who actually have the answers.

While this may work out very well for you, it doesn’t work out so well for my audience who, by the way, are taxpayers, voters and citizens.

So your refusal to provide me with information is actually a refusal to provide the public with information.

And if the public doesn’t know what their government is actually doing, it can continue doing things the public wouldn’t want it to do.

That just doesn’t seem very democratic to me. Does it seem democratic to you?

Thu, 2014-12-18 12:00Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Harper Government’s Economic Development Ignores Human, Indigenous Rights: New Report

first nations harper amnesty kris krug

Responsible Resource Development.”

World-Class Environmental Monitoring.”

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity.”

These are just some of the titles to emerge from the Harper government in recent years to pleasantly describe what is otherwise seen as a myopic and undemocratic program of increased resource extraction across the country. Yet, according to a new report released by the human rights watch group Amnesty International, Canada’s pursuit of energy superstardom has sidelined the nation’s human rights issues.

Tue, 2014-12-09 21:20Steve Horn
Steve Horn's picture

Like Canada's Harper Government, Obama Administration Muzzling Its Scientists

In recent years, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come under fire for disallowing scientists working for the Canadian government to speak directly to the press

An article published in August by The New Republic said “Harper's antagonism toward climate-change experts in his government may sound familiar to Americans,” pointing to similar deeds done by the George W. Bush Administration. That article also said that “Bush's replacement,” President Barack Obama, “has reversed course” in this area.

Society for Professional Journalists, the largest trade association for professional journalists in the U.S., disagrees with this conclusion. 

In a December 1 letter written to Gina McCarthy, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the society chided the Obama administration for its methods of responding to journalists' queries to speak to EPA-associated scientists. 

“We write to urge you again to clarify that members of the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) and the twenty other EPA science advisory committees have the right and are encouraged to speak to the public and the press about any scientific issues, including those before these committees, in a personal capacity without prior authorization from the agency,” said the letter.

“We urge you…to ensure that EPA advisory committee members are encouraged share their expertise and opinions with those who would benefit from it.”

Tue, 2014-12-02 14:58Chris Rose
Chris Rose's picture

Clean Energy Provided More Jobs Last Year Than Oilsands: Report

Tracking the Energy Revolution

Canada’s rapidly developing green energy industry has seen investments of more than $24 billion in the past five years while employment in the sector increased by 37 per cent during the same period, according to a report released Tuesday by Clean Energy Canada.

According to the report, impressive growth in the emerging sector has been achieved despite frustratingly inadequate federal support on things such as tax incentives and research promotion.

Surging employment growth last year in the clean energy sector — encompassing manufacturing, power production, energy efficiency and biofuels — accounted for more direct Canadian jobs than in the oilsands, the report added.

Tue, 2014-11-11 09:40Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Canada’s Union of Federal Scientists Gets Political, Commits to Campaign Against Harper Government

In an absolutely unprecedented move Canada’s Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) announced it will engage in political activity in the lead-up to and during the next federal election.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions,” PIPSC president Debi Daviau said in a press release.

This government has forced non-partisan organizations such as ours to make a very difficult choice: to remain silent or to speak out. We have chosen to speak out,” added Daviau.

PIPSC, Canada’s largest union of federal government scientists and professionals, represents some 55,000 public sector employees across the country.

The organization says the Harper government’s harsh treatment of union employees is damaging the public sector and the nation’s democracy.

Wed, 2014-10-22 12:17Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Hundreds of World’s Scientists Ask Stephen Harper to Return Freedom to Science in Canada

stand up for science, zack embree, harper

In an open letter published Monday more than 800 scientists are asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end “burdensome restriction on scientific communication and collaboration faced by Canadian government scientists.”

The Harper government has recently attracted international attention after a report published by a leading research union identified Canadian scientists as particularly hard hit by budget cuts and communications protocols that prevent their freedom of expression.

More than 800 scientists from over 32 countries signed Monday’s letter, drafted by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The letter states “a rapid decline in freedoms and funding” is restricting scientific freedoms in Canada by preventing open communication and collaboration with other international scientists.

Canada’s leadership in basic research, environmental, health and other public science is in jeopardy,” the letter states. “We urge you to restore government science funding and the freedom and opportunities to communicate these finding internationally.”

Thu, 2014-10-09 11:55Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

After Years of Intensive Lobbying, EU to Drop Oilsands’ Dirty Fuel Label

oilsands alex maclean

The European Union will not label fuel from Alberta’s oilsands as highly polluting despite years of efforts to distinguish the crude and other unconventional fuels for their high environmental impacts.

A proposal released Tuesday by the European Commission lifts a requirement forcing refiners to identify when supplying fuel from unconventional sources such as oilsands or oil shale. The commission will lift the requirement even though internal estimates show these fuel sources contain higher carbon emissions than conventional sources.

The dropped requirement within the European Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) comes after years of intense lobbying on behalf of the Canadian and Albertan government.

“The Harper government, in collaboration with the major oil companies, unleashed an unprecedented assault on clean fuels legislation in Europe even as they gutted environmental laws at home,” Keith Stewart, energy and climate campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, told DeSmog Canada. 

I think the question Canadians should ask themselves is: Do we want our diplomats to operate as a lobbying arm of Big Oil?” he said.

Stewart also noted the federal government's Pan-European Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy labelled oil companies as “allies” while environmental and Aboriginal groups were listed as “adversaries.”

Pages

Subscribe to Harper Government