scientists

Tue, 2015-03-24 11:13Carol Linnitt
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Access Denied: Ministry of Environment Vetoes Interview Request on Oilsands Toxins in Animals

Documents obtained by DeSmog Canada reveal that Canada’s Ministry of Environment vetoed an interview request on toxins in fur-bearing animals in the oilsands, even though the federal scientist was “media trained and interested in doing the interview.”

The Environment Canada scientist in question, Philippe Thomas, had asked members of the Alberta Trappers Association to send him samples of fur-bearing animals caught across Alberta in 2012. Thomas needed a broad range of samples to gain deeper insight into the contaminant load in animals living near the oilsands.

In late 2012, DeSmog Canada submitted a request to interview Thomas, and provided several written questions to Environment Canada to review.

Documents obtained via Access to Information legislation show that pre-scripted responses were prepared for Thomas should the interview be approved at the upper levels. The request was approved at the deputy general level, but denied in the office of former Environment Minister Peter Kent.

Wed, 2014-05-21 09:53Raphael Lopoukhine
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Government Cuts Leaving Forests Unwatched, Say Former Federal Scientists

federal cuts to science, forestry, desmog canada

This is Part 1 of the series “Science on the Chopping Block,” an in-depth look at federal cuts to science programs in Canada and what they mean for some of the country's most important researchers.

As cuts to science budgets and programs continue by the federal government, former scientists and academics who’ve lost their funding say the cuts have upended their careers, compromised knowledge about Canada’s environment and undercut development of the next generation of scientists.

Since the cuts began about five years ago, the federal government has either reduced funding or shut down more than 150 science-related programs and research centres and dismissed more than 2,000 scientists.

With the recently announced cuts to Environment Canada, by 2017 the department will be operating with close to 30 per cent fewer dollars than it had in 2012.  

As the impacts of the cuts grow, DeSmog Canada has reached out to former government and university scientists to hear their stories.

Fri, 2013-05-10 16:21Stephen Leahy
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Public Pressure Forces Harper to Agree to Transfer Shuttered ELA Environmental Research Centre

It took a solid year of outrage from Canadian researchers, the international science community and the public to force the Harper government to finally agree to transfer the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) to a non-profit organization.

And then the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans tried to take credit for today's announced signing of a crucial Memorandum of Understanding with the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

The Harper government was being hammered on this from every conceivable angle before they finally buckled,” said Diane Orihel, PhD student at University of Alberta and founder of the Coalition to Save ELA.

The ELA is 45 year old freshwater research facility in northern Ontario considered unique in the world. It was there that Canadian scientists discovered the dangers of acid rain as well as mercury and phosphorus pollution. Regulations that protect the health of the environment in Canada many countries are based on the work done at the ELA.

Thu, 2013-04-04 11:09Stephen Leahy
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Blame Canada Part 4: What is Happening to Canada?

Blame Canada is a four part series revealing how Canada has become a wealthy, fossil-fuelled energy superpower and an international climate pariah. Part 1 reveals Canada's emergence as a Petrostate, part 2 outlines Canada's climate crimes, and part 3 shows how energy 'wealth' contributes to the nation's poverty.

Canada's opposition to anything that might help developing countries is “mind-boggling” a delegate from Mali told me during a UN conference to slow the widespread extinction of species. “Canadians are known to protect the environment, I cannot understand why they are pushing policies that are clearly unsustainable,” he said.

Only a few days before Prime Minister Stephen Harper told delegates that losing wildlife was an urgent and alarming issue. Then as nearly 190 nations made plans to take action, Canadian delegates blocked those plans with legal and technical manoeuvres.

Do Canadians know what their government is doing here? You must tell them.”

That was in 2008. Since then at environmental or development gatherings around the world I've been asked dozens of times “what has happened to Canada?” And it's not just me.

Wed, 2013-02-27 09:26Patrick Eldridge
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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. 

Thu, 2013-02-14 11:43Carol Linnitt
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Science Silenced: US Scientist Caught in Canadian Muzzle

What a difference a decade makes - especially when it comes to government-directed communications policies regarding science, and especially when you're in Canada. 

In 2003 a Canadian-American research collaboration, involving scientists from US universities and Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), began in the Eastern Arctic to track oceanic conditions and ice flow in the Nares Strait.

Fri, 2013-01-25 05:00Carol Linnitt
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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.”
 
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