Canada bans mention of climate change

Can you believe this?
Canadian Weather Forecasters Forbidden From Discussing Climate Change
By Stephen Luntz, IFL Science
30 May 14
eather forecasters employed by the Canadian Meteorological Service have been banned from publicly discussing climate change. The decision has been justified on the basis that years of study of meteorology does not make a person qualified to discuss climatic events longer than a few months.
“Environment Canada scientists speak to their area of expertise," spokesman Mark Johnson told investigative journalist Mike De Souza. “For example, our Weather Preparedness Meteorologists are experts in their field of severe weather and speak to this subject. Questions about climate change or long-term trends would be directed to a climatologist or other applicable authority." The Meteorological Service of Canada is a division of Environment Canada.
Since 2006, shortly after Stephen Harper’s election as Prime Minister, the Canadian Government banned scientists from speaking to the media about their findings without getting political clearance. This has been conducted in conjunction with a process of shutting down research programs likely to turn up results not in keeping with the Conservative government’s agenda.
The program is not limited to climate issues, or even the environment, but critics have argued that Global Warming is the key target. Since the ban there has been an 80% fall in coverage of Global Warming in the Canadian media, according to leaked Environment Canada documents.
In a survey by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada 86% of respondents said that if a government policy had the potential to harm public health and safety or the environment they “could not share their concerns with the public or media or public without censure or retaliation."
Weather forecasters represent something of a weak point in the government’s efforts to keep the public uniformed. One anonymous response to the survey noted, “With meteorology we are in a somewhat unique position in that our availability to the media is relatively unrestricted." Half of all media inquiries to Environment Canada relate to weather events – when a big storm is brewing journalists want to talk to an expert fast, and are reluctant to wait on approval from a government minder. The Meteorology Service operates a 24-hour media hotline, circumventing the need to gain ministerial agreement to talk to journalists.
However, while the forecasters can talk about what has happened, or what seems likely to happen, they cannot discuss why, insofar as it relates to wider climatic events. As with all the best censorship, the exact boundaries of what can be discussed without putting one’s career on the line are unclear. Presumably if a huge storm was brewing as a result of exceptionally warm ocean temperatures meteorologists would be forbidden to note that the warmth was part of a long term rising trend. However, it is not certain whether it would be permissible to note that a historic record had been broken, and that this was likely to increase the anticipated severity.

We had some of the worst flooding in our history here last year.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Alberta_floods

In the days leading up to June 20, 2013, Alberta, Canada, experienced heavy rainfall that triggered catastrophic flooding described by the provincial government as the worst in Alberta's history. Areas along the Bow, Elbow, Highwood, Red Deer, Sheep, Little Bow, and South Saskatchewan rivers and their tributaries were particularly affected. A total of 32 states of local emergency were declared[5] and 28 emergency operations centres were activated[6] as water levels rose and numerous communities were placed under evacuation orders.
There's a really good reason that the Canadian federal government doesn't want to talk about global warming and extreme weather, if it did it wouldn't be in power for very long and the oil sector would soon be drastically scaled back here. FOI laws are also a complete joke here, it's almost impossible to get anything in a timely manner from the Harper government as it does everything it can to prevent any real release of information that might threaten its agenda. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/01/09/study_ranks_canadas_freedomofinformation_laws_dead_last.html
A new study ranks Canada dead last in an international comparison of freedom-of-information laws — a hard fall after many years being judged a global model in openness. The study by a pair of British academics looked at the effectiveness of freedom-of-information laws in five parliamentary democracies: Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Canada. New Zealand placed first and Canada last. “Above all, an effective FOI regime requires strong government commitment and political will. Officials cannot do it on their own," says the paper, published in the journal Government Information Quarterly. “Canada comes last as it has continually suffered from a combination of low use, low political support and a weak Information Commissioner since its inception."
I'm guessing based on Harper's known association with controversial religious groups talked about here; http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/17146/ That the official Canadian government explanation for increasing extreme weather is eventually going to be, "God is punishing us for all the evildoers in society" When choosing the worst government in the Americas right now my vote definitely goes to the conservative government of Canada.

For many years I envied Canada because they were apparently more advanced socially than was the U.S., but it appears that you people are going down the tubes much faster than we are. I can only hope the citizens of both our countries wake up and get rid of the sleazy, pre-bought politicians and corporations which focus only on their self-interest at the expense of everyone else.
Occam

Can you believe this? Canadian Weather Forecasters Forbidden From Discussing Climate Change By Stephen Luntz, IFL Science 30 May 14 eather forecasters employed by the Canadian Meteorological Service have been banned from publicly discussing climate change. The decision has been justified on the basis that years of study of meteorology does not make a person qualified to discuss climatic events longer than a few months. “Environment Canada scientists speak to their area of expertise," spokesman Mark Johnson told investigative journalist Mike De Souza. “For example, our Weather Preparedness Meteorologists are experts in their field of severe weather and speak to this subject. Questions about climate change or long-term trends would be directed to a climatologist or other applicable authority." The Meteorological Service of Canada is a division of Environment Canada. Since 2006, shortly after Stephen Harper's election as Prime Minister, the Canadian Government banned scientists from speaking to the media about their findings without getting political clearance. This has been conducted in conjunction with a process of shutting down research programs likely to turn up results not in keeping with the Conservative government's agenda. The program is not limited to climate issues, or even the environment, but critics have argued that Global Warming is the key target. Since the ban there has been an 80% fall in coverage of Global Warming in the Canadian media, according to leaked Environment Canada documents. In a survey by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada 86% of respondents said that if a government policy had the potential to harm public health and safety or the environment they “could not share their concerns with the public or media or public without censure or retaliation." Weather forecasters represent something of a weak point in the government's efforts to keep the public uniformed. One anonymous response to the survey noted, “With meteorology we are in a somewhat unique position in that our availability to the media is relatively unrestricted." Half of all media inquiries to Environment Canada relate to weather events – when a big storm is brewing journalists want to talk to an expert fast, and are reluctant to wait on approval from a government minder. The Meteorology Service operates a 24-hour media hotline, circumventing the need to gain ministerial agreement to talk to journalists. However, while the forecasters can talk about what has happened, or what seems likely to happen, they cannot discuss why, insofar as it relates to wider climatic events. As with all the best censorship, the exact boundaries of what can be discussed without putting one's career on the line are unclear. Presumably if a huge storm was brewing as a result of exceptionally warm ocean temperatures meteorologists would be forbidden to note that the warmth was part of a long term rising trend. However, it is not certain whether it would be permissible to note that a historic record had been broken, and that this was likely to increase the anticipated severity.
Do you have a link please? Thx!

What the hell? And I almost moved there. Canadians first of all need to pressure their Parliament to revoke Section 33 of their Constitution, the “notwithstanding clause’” that allows for censuring and temporarily revoking the right to freedom of speech, hence information. Who came up with this BS in the first place? What was it’s original intent? Ours can only be suspended in times of declared war (treasonous speech etc.). One can only imagine what would be the result here if the Congress decided to suspend THAT civil right. The Canadian people deserve to know what is happening within their country and not read about it in the N.Y. Times
Cap’t Jack

I look at America and think about how much more Barak Obama would be able to accomplish if the Republican party was working in good faith inside Congress. The fact the country is still together is a real statement to the strength of the US political system whatever it’s inevitable flaws.
Here in Canada we seem to have given up with little more than a whimper, even some conservatives admit just what a joke “democracy” has become in Canada.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/conservative-mps-used-like-trained-seals-rathgeber-says-1.1314736

Alberta MP Brent Rathgeber said he has left the Conservative caucus in part because of the control Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office exercises over backbench MPs, which was preventing him from representing his constituents. The former Tory MP, who announced he was quitting late Wednesday night to sit as an Independent, said staff in Harper's office — who are "half my age" — pressure the caucus to obey their talking points and vote "like trained seals."
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/michael-chong-s-bill-would-give-mps-power-to-eject-their-leader-1.2445411
A Conservative MP is set to introduce a bill that would give party caucuses significant powers — including the ability to vote out their leader. Michael Chong has been working on the private member's bill for years, and has become a standard-bearer for rebalancing the power between the Prime Minister's Office and Parliament. His proposed legislation would also give party riding associations the ultimate say in electoral nominations, removing the leader's signature from the equation for the first time since 1970.
A conservative MP is trying to pass a bill that would limit the powers of his own Prime Minister. There's little doubt for most Canadians that the Harper Prime Ministers Office is operating largely without any controls of any kind, a Parliamentary system doesn't function well...or at all...when the sitting PM acts as if they're an independent executive branch. We don't have an independently elected Congress, once Parliament is bypassed as it largely has been by Stephen Harper then the only remaining limits to total power are the courts. Something that Harper has already begun to attack. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/tories-sink-to-a-new-supreme/article18498810/
When 11 former presidents of the Canadian Bar Association rebuke the government for attacking Canada’s top jurist, it is fair to ask: How low can Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government go? The answer is that just when you think new depths of conduct have been plumbed, even lower ones are found. We might have thought that the depths were recently reached by Pierre Poilievre, the minister responsible for the so-called Fair Elections Act, when he attacked the Chief Electoral Officer, dismissed comments from former auditor-general Sheila Fraser and a long list of political scientists who opposed the bill, which has since been amended. Canadians, however, had not seen the worst. Mr. Harper, in one of his Nixonian moments in which he sees enemies everywhere, impugned the integrity of Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Eleven former presidents of the Canadian Bar Association felt so strongly about the Prime Minister’s unjustified and unprovoked assault on the Chief Justice’s integrity that they collectively came to her defence – and that of the Supreme Court – in The Globe and Mail.
We used to send aid and Peacekeepers to the kind of countries we've now become.
What the hell? And I almost moved there. Canadians first of all need to pressure their Parliament to revoke Section 33 of their Constitution, the "notwithstanding clause'" that allows for censuring and temporarily revoking the right to freedom of speech, hence information. Who came up with this BS in the first place? What was it's original intent? Ours can only be suspended in times of declared war (treasonous speech etc.). One can only imagine what would be the result here if the Congress decided to suspend THAT civil right. The Canadian people deserve to know what is happening within their country and not read about it in the N.Y. Times Cap't Jack
Cough*Quebec*cough It was added to keep Quebec happy and so that provincial governments in that province could introduce legislation that wouldn't be legal otherwise. Language is strictly controlled in Quebec to "protect" French culture there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_Language_Act_(Quebec) The main reason that the Harper conservatives were able to get into power and eventually take national a platform that few Canadians even understand let alone support is the gaping political divide in this nation between French and English Canada. How many countries have operated with an official opposition party who's main purpose was the destruction of that nation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_sovereignty_movement The French sovereignty movement has poisoned politics here allowing an opportunistic infection in the form of a far right political movement to spread wildly throughout Canada. Please send penicillin.

Europe and France in particular are moving in this direction also. It was happening in Spain while was there. Far right fringe political parties are gaining power as a reaction to punish previous governments for their austerity program responses to the economic crisis. In the US, we give power to the party that protects us from terrorists and takes away our rights in the process. It always seemed to me while I lived in Europe, that people voted in reaction to the current government, not for an ideology they believed in.

The French sovereignty movement has poisoned politics here allowing an opportunistic infection in the form of a far right political movement to spread wildly throughout Canada.
How true although I'm a francofile at heart. I wonder if the French Canadiens knew they were opening a Pandora's box politically when the movement began? I blame DeGaulle. Cap't Jack

Do you have a link please? Thx!
http://www.iflscience.com/environment/canadian-weather-forecasters-forbidden-discussing-climate-change
You’ll love what IFL stands for.
Lois

How true although I'm a francofile at heart. I wonder if the French Canadiens knew they were opening a Pandora's box politically when the movement began? I blame DeGaulle. Cap't Jack
There are some really wonderful things about Quebec, it's been years since I've been there, but I really enjoyed a few summer trips there in the 1970s. There are some people there who seem pretty stuck in the past though and dream of returning to a time before the English took control of the colony in the 1700s. Having DeGaulle do his, "Vive la Quebec, VIVE LA QUEBEC LIBRE!" thing did open up a lot of pent up animosity that still hasn't died down as you say.
There are some really wonderful things about Quebec, it’s been years since I’ve been there, but I really enjoyed a few summer trips there in the 1970s. There are some people there who seem pretty stuck in the past though and dream of returning to a time before the English took control of the colony in the 1700s. Having DeGaulle do his, “Vive la Quebec, VIVE LA QUEBEC LIBRE!" thing did open up a lot of pent up animosity that still hasn’t died down as you say.
I know this is waaay off topic but French Canadian History is a fascinating topic and has very deep roots. The Canadiens aren't likely to ditch their culture anytime soon. Their license plates pretty much sum it up (Je me Souviens "I remember". BTW we see them often; many families vacation where we do and I've had the opportunity of visiting with them. We went on an ocean kayak trip with a family last Summer and they didn't snicker at my poorly pronounced high school French. I did find out that French Canadien is slightly different from the parent language though. And yeah, DeGaulle really stirred up separatist feelings during his visit in '67. They fear, as do the Cree and the Iroquois do that their culture will be destroyed if they just give up and assimilate. I had no idea that this would lead to a suppression of free speech and information. Is your Parliament that paranoid that there may be another armed rebellion? Cap't Jack
I know this is waaay off topic but French Canadian History is a fascinating topic and has very deep roots. The Canadiens aren't likely to ditch their culture anytime soon. Their license plates pretty much sum it up (Je me Souviens "I remember". BTW we see them often; many families vacation where we do and I've had the opportunity of visiting with them. We went on an ocean kayak trip with a family last Summer and they didn't snicker at my poorly pronounced high school French. I did find out that French Canadien is slightly different from the parent language though. And yeah, DeGaulle really stirred up separatist feelings during his visit in '67. They fear, as do the Cree and the Iroquois do that their culture will be destroyed if they just give up and assimilate. I had no idea that this would lead to a suppression of free speech and information. Is your Parliament that paranoid that there may be another armed rebellion? Cap't Jack
The sovereignty referendum came very close to passing in 1995 and I think some people are very concerned about the old wound being reopened. I also remember more than a few people talking about using armed force to prevent a split at that time if the yes side did win, there is a fair bit of bias against Quebec in other parts of Canada and has been all through our history. French Canadians do have reason to resent the state of affairs to a degree. From what I see of our current PM, he's willing to sacrifice just about anything to keep the oil flowing, I don't think he really cares what happens in Quebec as long as the tar sands and other oil and gas sector projects are protected.

Our government is more than willing to muzzle federal employees to protect its interests, but it shows no such concern when it comes to people making legal requests for information.
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/31/access-to-information-canada_n_5422765.html?ref=topbar

The federal government continues to collect background information on individuals who file access-to-information requests, more than seven months after officials agreed to stop the practice. An online service launched last year requires all requesters applying for documents under the Access to Information Act first to indicate whether they're members of the media, business, academia or other categories. The service, which to date has processed almost 30,000 electronic access-to-information requests, does not allow a requester to decline to identify her or his background — and failure to select a category halts the process in its tracks. Last fall, Canada's information watchdog secured a commitment from the Treasury Board, which is responsible for running the online service, to provide a "decline-to-identify" option. The access law does not authorize the collection of background information from individual requesters, and a government-wide directive from 2010 requires institutions to process requests without regard to the identity of the person seeking records.

This is a piece by a former member of the PM staff about the black hole of information the PMO(Prime Ministers Office) has become.
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/31/andrew-macdougall-stephen-harper_n_5422524.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics

A similar kind of frustration is brewing in Ottawa, where political communications staffers are rarely on the other end of the government’s 1-800 lines when a reporter calls. Indeed, some communications staff would rather stab themselves in the eye with a fork than pick up the phone and talk to a reporter.
There isn’t much goodwill left between the press and the Conservative government; eight years of trench warfare has left a battlefield full of bad blood and blown relationships. Here’s a partial list of why the media’s knickers are in a twist: - Their access to politicians, staff and officials has been limited. - They no longer get to loiter outside the cabinet room. - They resent being made to go on lists to ask questions. - They often wait around all day for answers only to be emailed two talking points that don’t address their questions.
Yup, that's right, in Canada our reporters provide lists to the government of questions they'd like answered and the government may or may not get back to them. So much for the press providing valuable information to allow the electorate to make informed choices come election day.
There isn’t much goodwill left between the press and the Conservative government; eight years of trench warfare has left a battlefield full of bad blood and blown relationships. Here’s a partial list of why the media’s knickers are in a twist: - Their access to politicians, staff and officials has been limited. - They no longer get to loiter outside the cabinet room. - They resent being made to go on lists to ask questions. - They often wait around all day for answers only to be emailed two talking points that don’t address their questions.
This is a total suppression of the right of the freedom of expression. Are there no guarantees in the Canadian Constitution similar to our Bill of Rights, principally the first Amendment? How are the Conservatives able to get away with this egregious usurpation of a basic human right? The Canadian government is acting like a Middle Eastern theocracy. Is there no equivalent to the ACLU? Cap't Jack
There isn’t much goodwill left between the press and the Conservative government; eight years of trench warfare has left a battlefield full of bad blood and blown relationships. Here’s a partial list of why the media’s knickers are in a twist: - Their access to politicians, staff and officials has been limited. - They no longer get to loiter outside the cabinet room. - They resent being made to go on lists to ask questions. - They often wait around all day for answers only to be emailed two talking points that don’t address their questions.
This is a total suppression of the right of the freedom of expression. Are there no guarantees in the Canadian Constitution similar to our Bill of Rights, principally the first Amendment? How are the Conservatives able to get away with this egregious usurpation of a basic human right? The Canadian government is acting like a Middle Eastern theocracy. Is there no equivalent to the ACLU? Cap't Jack
Yes, but we're also coming from the British system of government where citizens are subjects of the Crown, so there isn't the tradition of asserting the same rights to expression as in the US. http://www.uottawa.ca/constitutional-law/expression.html
Section 2(b) of the Charter states that "Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: ... freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication." The section potentially could cover a wide range of action, from commercial expression to political expression; from journalistic privilege to hate speech to pornography. The jurisprudence of the Supreme Court (see links below) has largely been an attempt to carve out: first, the purpose of s. 2(b) (what values does it seek to protect, who should be entitled to its protection); and second, the scope of s. 2(b) (what is 'expression'?). Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of a functioning democracy. Freedom of expression promotes certain societal values, as noted by Professor Emerson in 1963: "Maintenance of a system of free expression is necessary (1) as assuring individual self-fulfillment, (2) as a means of attaining the truth, (3) as a method of securing participation by the members of the society in social, including political, decision-making, and (4) as maintaining the balance between stability and change in society." Our constitutional commitment to free speech is predicated on the belief that a free society cannot function with coercive legal censorship in the hands of persons supporting one ideology who are motivated to use the power of the censor to suppress opposing viewpoints.
I see what's going on as a war for the spirit of Canada, the conservative government is trying to firmly brand this nation as a conservative country where we don't question authority and get out of the way of the powerful. This is our version of the ACLU. http://ccla.org/
I see what’s going on as a war for the spirit of Canada, the conservative government is trying to firmly brand this nation as a conservative country where we don’t question authority and get out of the way of the powerful.
There is surely a groundswell of opinion opposing the Conservative government's suspension of a free press. How could anyone living in a true democratic republic stand for such a blatant misuse of power? Al least you have your own civil liberties group to rally behind. Hopefully the voters there will wake up and vote in a more progressive government and not knuckle under to "the powerful". Personally, I'd be on the street handing out leaflets now. Cap't Jack
There is surely a groundswell of opinion opposing the Conservative government's suspension of a free press. How could anyone living in a true democratic republic stand for such a blatant misuse of power? Al least you have your own civil liberties group to rally behind. Hopefully the voters there will wake up and vote in a more progressive government and not knuckle under to "the powerful". Personally, I'd be on the street handing out leaflets now. Cap't Jack
It's hard to explain the dynamics, beyond a certain point dissent is seen as treason, it's a holdover of Canada's days as part of the British empire. Harper began doing this eight years ago soon after taking power and he's been getting away with it to an alarming degree ever since. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/harper-says-he-s-finished-with-ottawa-press-corps-1.591360
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he'll no longer give news conferences for the national media, after a dispute led a number of journalists to walk away from an event when he refused to take their questions. Speaking to A-Channel in London, Ont., Harper said "unfortunately the press gallery has taken the view they are going to be the opposition to the government." "They don't ask questions at my press conferences now. We'll just take the message out on the road. There's lots of media who do want to ask questions and hear what the government is doing." Since becoming prime minister in January, Harper has had a testy relationship with the national media in Ottawa. His staff has tried to manage news conferences by saying they will decide which reporters get to ask questions.
That was at the beginning of his rule here, this is not democratic government in spirit or in action. I think if he gets one more mandate you can write off Canada as a serious nation, we'll be heading into third world status as the conservatives continue to dismantle the generations of freedoms we've been gifted with here. It's a very frustrating process to watch, I get out and vote, I speak out as much as I can as do many other Canadians, but so far the conservatives have hit on a winning strategy based on fear and greed.

I’m not alone in my views on Harper, there are people far more eloquent putting a lot of effort into presenting the honest portrait of a government that rules mostly by deceit and intimidation.
http://harperwatch.wordpress.com/about/

We’ve all grown up with a certain perspective about Canada, what it means to be Canadian, how we wish to be perceived as Canadians. Our Canada has always been a country where looking after each other was more important than getting ahead, making more money and acquiring more stuff. Where the words “social safety net" were not sneered at or feared but were something to aspire to. Where women could be proud of their hard-won rights and look forward to an even brighter future for their daughters. Where nobody would be denied quality health care because they couldn’t afford it. Where immigrants and refugees could come with their families and forge a better life, and at the same time, enrich us with their thoughts and customs. Where we understood and appreciated the wild beauty and vastness of this land, and tried our best to preserve it and keep it safe. A country where people could speak their minds, whether it was their own opinion or to expose wrongdoing they’d discovered, without fear of persecution. A country which was regarded in the International Community as a non-partisan bastion of human rights, dedicated to fostering peace and justice in the world. Since 2006, slowly, and sometimes not so subtly, we’ve seen our Canada change and become tarnished. We’ve seen long-cherished values, and hard-won rights and achievements be unceremoniously swept away and buried, covered up under blatant lies. We’ve seen our country’s global reputation reduced from being admired and respected and even loved, to being the subject of anger, ridicule and yes, even loathing. That this could all happen in a few years with Canada in a minority government was astounding. And now to see what is happening to our beautiful country under a Harper majority is heart-breaking. Never before has an elected government given us cause for such apprehension – but also for such hope that Canadians will engage in the process of governing their country. We’ve seen social media explode with opinion and debate. Students have become involved and have filled the streets, taking democracy into their own hands and have made a difference. Scientists and doctors, not generally known for taking to the streets in protest have done so and have been supported by thousands of their fellow Canadians. First Nations and environmentalists have joined forces to protect the environment.