transparency

Tue, 2014-04-15 09:27David Ravensbergen
David Ravensbergen's picture

Joe Oliver's Transparency Rule a Parting Gift to Canadian Mining Companies

canadian mining companies, transparency

On March 3rd, former Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver unveiled a new transparency initiative that will require Canadian mining companies to report significant payments made to governments both abroad and in Canada. Under the new law, medium and large publicly traded companies will post the details of payments above the $100,000 threshold on their company websites, listed on a project-by-project basis.

Oliver described the initiative as a “comprehensive and meaningful approach” designed to “enhance transparency and accountability in the mining and oil and gas industries.” 

The new legislation comes as the most recent installment in a long list of policy changes implemented by the Conservative government in an attempt to improve the international standing of the Canadian extractive industries.

Last month saw the opening of the Vancouver headquarters of the Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development (CIIEID), a joint project between the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and École Polytechnique de Montréal that received nearly $24.6 million in funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. According to the CIIEID website, the institute’s mission is “to improve governance of extractive sectors in developing countries.” 

The timing of both Oliver’s announcement and the opening of the CIIEID reflects not only the growing importance of the mining and oil and gas sector to the Canadian economy, but also the increasing level of social and environmental conflict associated with the activities of the Canadian extractive industries both at home and abroad.

Fri, 2014-02-21 17:50Guest
Guest's picture

Michael Mann: Canadians Should Fight Harper's War on Science and the U.S. Should Help

stephen harper

This is a guest post by distinguished climatologist Michael Mann. The article originally appeared on The Mark News.

The scientific community has long warned that environmental issues, especially climate change, need to be a global concern. Climatologist Michael Mann argues that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration is purposely obstructing the research that needs to take place to solve these problems.

In early 2013, the government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced new science communications procedures that threatened the publication rights of an American scientist who had been working in the Arctic with Canadian researchers since 2003.

This was the first time the Canadian government’s draconian confidentiality rules had infringed on the scientific freedom of an international academic – or, at least, it was the first time such an incident had been made known. Professor Andreas Muenchow from the University of Delaware publicly refused to sign a government agreement that threatened to “sign away [his] freedom to speak, publish, educate, learn and share.”

To many of us American scientists, this episode sadly came as little surprise. We have known for some time that the Canadian government has been silencing the voices of scientists speaking out on the threat of fossil-fuel extraction and burning and the damaging impacts they are having on our climate. I have close friends in the Canadian scientific community who say they have personally been subjected to these heavy-handed policies. Why? Because the implications of their research are inconvenient to the powerful fossil-fuel interests that seem to now run the Canadian government.

Fri, 2013-09-27 15:16Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

“A System in Crisis”: Information Commissioner on Canada’s Freedom of Information

Suzanne Legault on DeSmog Canada

Suzanne Legault, Canada’s Information Commissioner, says federal officials are suppressing freedom of information in Canada.

I am seeing signs of a system in crisis, where departments are unable to fulfill even their most basic obligations under the act,” she told a group of bureaucrats yesterday in a private meeting.

A copy of the watchdog’s speaking notes was obtained by The Canadian Press.

Fri, 2013-06-07 11:46Erika Thorkelson
Erika Thorkelson's picture

Alberta Tory MP Rathgeber Jumps Ship Over Transparency Issues

Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber blasted the Federal Conservative party Wednesday for their lack of transparency, claiming that “unelected staffers” and advisors to the Prime Minister’s Office have been interfering in parliamentary business.

Tue, 2013-04-30 09:35Guest
Guest's picture

The Slow and Painful Death of Freedom in Canada

freedom of information image

This is a guest post by Adam Kingsmith, PhD Candidate in Political Science at York University.

Less than a generation ago, Canada was a world leader when it came to the fundamental democratic freedoms of assembly, speech and information.

In 1982, Canada adopted the Access to Information Act – making it one of the first countries to pass legislation recognizing the right of citizens to access information held by government, and as recently as 2002, Canada ranked among the top 5 most open and transparent countries when it came to respect for freedom of the press.

Fast-forward a decade, and we've become a true north suppressed and disparate – where unregistered civic demonstrations are inhibited and repressed, rebellious Internet activities are scrutinised and supervised, government scientists are hushed and muzzled, and public information is stalled and mired by bureaucratic firewalls.

Thu, 2013-03-07 10:12Erika Thorkelson
Erika Thorkelson's picture

Harper Budget Bills "A Disgrace and an Insult to Parliament and to Canadians," Analysts Write

A new report from policy analysts calls on the Harper government to end the use of overloaded omnibus bills such as C-38 and C-45.

Based on posts originally published on Scott Clark and Peter DeVries’ blog 3D Policy, the report is set to appear in Inside Policy magazine. It harshly criticizes the government’s record when it comes to budget transparency.

It is now recognized by most observers of the federal budget process, that the integrity and credibility of the process has been seriously eroded in recent years,” they write.

Less information is now provided to the public in budgets than under previous Liberal and Conservative governments; the authority of Parliament over government spending has been weakened; the understanding of Canadians as to what the government is actually planning to do in the budget has been eroded. Canadians should be concerned not just with the erosion of Parliament’s authority, but also ultimately with their own ability to hold the government to account for its actions.”

Though they keep their comments to fiscal concerns, the issues they target also throw light on the Harper government’s tactics of obfuscation when it came to issues of environmental regulation, specifically in terms of Bill C-38 and Bill C-45.

Wed, 2013-02-27 09:26Patrick Eldridge
Patrick Eldridge's picture

Harper People Problems: Public Relations vs. Public Access to Information

Sunday marked the beginning of Freedom to Read week, an annual event reminding Canadian citizens of the intellectual freedom they are constitutionally guaranteed. It also reminds us we are governed by other citizens with the capacity to permit or limit that freedom. These are citizens that we can hold accountable only to the extent that we know how they make their decisions and what consequences those decisions have. 

The event this year stands out on the Canadian political landscape, an uncomfortable reminder of just how frustrated the free flow of information has become in this country.

The timing is significant, as the event arrives on the heels of a University of Victoria study that highlights the Harper government’s efforts to restrict media access to federal scientists. 

Mon, 2013-02-11 05:00Guest
Guest's picture

Federal Government Muzzles DFO Scientists with New Policy

This is a post by Michael Harris, originally published on iPolitics.

Everything has a crack in it; that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen, take a bow.

Another crack has appeared in the Harper government’s surreptitious but merciless war to muzzle Canadian scientists — and just about everyone else.

The light entering through this particular crack shines on a disturbing fact. Canada, the only parliamentary democracy in the Commonwealth where a government has been found in contempt of Parliament, is now the only democracy in the world where a government bureaucrat can suppress scientific research.

Fri, 2013-01-25 05:00Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Canadian Scientists Must Speak Out Despite Consequence, Says Andrew Weaver

If people don’t speak out there will never be any change,” says the University of Victoria’s award-winning climate scientist Andrew Weaver. 

And the need for change in Canada, says Weaver, has never been more pressing.

“We have a crisis in Canada. That crisis is in terms of the development of information and the need for science to inform decision-making. We have replaced that with an ideological approach to decision-making, the selective use of whatever can be found to justify [policy decisions], and the suppression of scientific voices and science itself in terms of informing the development of that policy.”
 
Thu, 2012-10-18 10:34Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

China-Canada Investment "Straitjacket:" Interview with Gus Van Harten Part 2

This post is second in a series on the Canada-China Investment “Straitjacket:” Exclusive Interview with Gus Van Harten. You can read the first segment here.

Right now Canadians stare down the barrel of a 31-year long legal trade agreement with the Chinese government that did not become public knowledge until September 26, 2012.

The trade treaty, known as the Foreign Investment Protection Agreement or FIPA, has garnered notable opposition in the past three weeks, with NDP trade critic Don Davies calling for public hearings, Green Party MP Elizabeth May calling for an emergency Parliamentary debate, and campaign organizations Leadnow.ca and SumofUs.org gathering over 39,300 opposition signatures (and counting) to deliver in person to Ottawa.

Yesterday, the Canadian Press reported the Harper government's refusal to host public hearings. Elizabeth May's October 1 request was also denied on the grounds that FIPA does not meet the test of emergency.

The trade agreement, or treaty, as it is called, is slated for ratification at the end of this month. The Commons trade committee will be briefed on the document in a one hour hearing.

With a trade deal that threatens Canadian sovereignty looming on the horizon and a government committed to expediting its approval, DeSmog caught up with trade investment lawyer and Osgoode professor Gus Van Harten to talk through some of the details.

Subscribe to transparency