Harper Government

Thu, 2014-12-18 12:00Carol Linnitt
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Harper Government’s Economic Development Ignores Human, Indigenous Rights: New Report

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

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

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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.”

Thu, 2014-10-09 09:25Chris Rose
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Report: Federal Departments Muzzling Scientists, Engaging in Political Interference

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Media policies in most Canadian government departments do not effectively encourage open communication between federal scientists and journalists, says a report released Wednesday.

Published by Evidence for Democracy (E4D) and Simon Fraser University (SFU), the report said more than 85 per cent of the 16 departments studied were assessed a grade of C or lower in terms of openness of communication, protection against political interference, rights to free speech, and protection for whistleblowers.

The 22-page report also said that when compared to grades for U.S. departments (scored by the Union of Concerned Scientists), all but one Canadian department performed worse than the U.S. average.

Overwhelmingly, current media policies do not meet the basic requirements for supporting open communication between federal scientists and the media,” Katie Gibbs, E4D’s executive director and an author on the report, said in an accompanying media release.

These policies could prevent taxpayer-funded scientists from sharing their expertise with the public on important issues from drug safety to climate change,” Gibbs said.

Tue, 2014-10-07 13:43Chris Rose
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“No Overall Vision:” Scathing New Audit from Environment Commissioner Exposes Canada’s Utter Climate Failure

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Canada will almost certainly not meet its international greenhouse gas emission reduction target by 2020 and doesn’t even have a plan showing how the nation might achieve its climate change goals, according to a blistering new report released Tuesday.

Julie Gelfand, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, said a climate change audit found current federal measures will have little effect on emissions by 2020, the year Canada committed under the Copenhagen Accord to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels.

Gelfand said in her report that the government has introduced regulations in the transportation and electricity generation sectors.

She noted, however, that regulations in the oil and gas sector — where emissions are growing the fastest — are still not in place eight years after the government first indicated it would regulate this area.

There is strong evidence that Canada will not meet its international 2020 greenhouse-gas-emission reduction target,” she said. “The federal government does not have an overall plan that maps out how Canada will achieve this target. Canadians have not been given the details about which regulations will be developed, when, nor what greenhouse gas reductions will be expected.”

“Canadians are being grossly misled if they think that this government has even the remotest intention of ever trying to achieve any greenhouse gas targets, let alone join the realm of civilized nations,” Liberal environment critic John McKay said in response to the audit.

Tue, 2014-09-23 11:54Carol Linnitt
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Critics Call Harper Government’s New Climate PR Campaign ‘Orwellian’

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Facing criticism in the lead up to today’s UN Climate Summit, which prime minister Stephen Harper is not attending, the Harper Government released a new public outreach campaign through Environment Canada, praising the country’s action on climate change.

The campaign points to four pillars of Canada’s climate progress including efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, investing in climate adaptation, “world-class scientific research to inform decision-making,” and international leadership in climate action.

Already critics are pointing to the apparent disparity between the Environment Canada campaign and Canada’s waning reputation on the international stage for its climate obstruction, the muzzling of scientists, the elimination of environmental legislation and massive cuts to federal research and science programs.

Reading the Harper government’s claims about its climate efforts is like reading one of Orwell’s books,” Mark Jaccard, professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environment Management, said.

Eliminating policy is to implement policy. Blocking and abandoning global negotiations is to lead global negotiations. Muzzling scientists is to have science inform decision-making. Working hard to increase carbon pollution is to decrease it. Black is white. Dishonesty is truth.”

Mon, 2014-09-22 13:57Chris Rose
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Report: Renewables Break into Mainstream Energy Market

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Renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies are now a successful mainstream business with investors spending $207 USD billion in the sector last year, according to a report released Monday by Clean Energy Canada.

The report — Tracking the Energy Revolution — also said that carbon-based fuels would remain an important part of the global energy system for decades but added that “for the first time in more than a century, multiple signs suggest that their dominance is beginning to wane.”

Global fossil-fuel power generation investment last year totalled $270 billion, the report said, only $63 billion more than for clean energy investments.

It is clear that falling equipment costs, strong investor interest, and government and business leadership are driving a global clean energy revolution, the 18-page report added.

When it comes to addressing climate disruption, the countries that succeed on the world stage are those taking action at home,” Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada, said in an accompanying media release.

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