"Scary time" for Canada

Critics say they’re “dismayed” by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s anti-democratic and “McCarthy-esque” tactics, regarding regulatory hearings for the Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline.

Photo by Ewa Chruscicka

ForestEthics whistleblower Andrew Frank claims that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office is resorting to threats to quell environmental opposition against the Northern Gateway pipeline. There have been conflicting reports on what actually happened at Frank’s organization, but for others in the environmental community his serious allegations come as no surprise.

In an open letter and signed affidavit, the former ForestEthics communications manager recounted how representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office attempted to silence pipeline critics, alleging that they blacklisted the environmental group as an “enemy of the Government of Canada”. Frank claimed that the PMO threatened the charitable status of the prominent Tides Canada Foundation, unless they agreed to pull funding from ForestEthics.

Tides CEO Ross McMillan would not comment on Frank’s allegations, saying his depiction of interactions with the Prime Minister’s Office was “inaccurate”. PMO press secretary Andrew MacDougall has denied that the office made any of the statements reported in the affidavit, and Frank has since been fired from his position.

Regardless of whether or not the Prime Minister’s Office named the organization an “enemy” of the state, the feeling of tension amongst environmental groups on the pipeline issue is hard to ignore. For John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada, Frank’s claims are simply another sign of the Harper government’s aggressive tactics.

“I can’t really comment on what was said there, but I can tell you that I have personally been yelled at by John Baird when he was the environment minister,” said Bennett.

“So I’m not surprised that someone in the Prime Minister’s Office might say something like that. It certainly rings true with how they talk to us whenever we do get a chance to talk to anyone.”

Bennett compares the Northern Gateway debate to other environmental battles in the past, noting some key differences in political strategy. After Resource Minister Joe Oliver called environmentalists foreign-funded “radicals” bent on “hijacking” regulatory hearings, Sierra Club Canada was one of many groups under the spotlight for accepting international support. Bennett says that in his 35 years as an advocate, he has never before had to work so hard to defend his organization and their funding.

“We used to argue over the facts—our interpretation and their interpretation,” he said.

“But they wouldn’t be doing things like calling you enemies of the country. They wouldn’t be talking about where your financing comes from. These are all tactics that have been developed in the United States by the Republican Party as a way of creating politics of division. Because they’ve discovered that if you divide people then you can win office.”

“A scary time for Canadian democracy”

Bennett describes the current situation as very “McCarthy-esque”, with the addition of what he calls a “new wrinkle” that involves creating surrogate or “pretend” grassroots organizations that support federal policies.

“They test the lines with these surrogate organizations and then the politicians start to repeat them. So we have Ethical Oil talking about ethical oil, but then the Prime Minister’s saying exactly the same thing,” Bennett said.

Ethical Oil’s “foreign funding” smear campaign against environmental groups was one thing, but for many the idea that oil sands critics could be targeted and directly threatened by the government takes the issue to a whole new level.

Bennett says it calls Canada’s whole history of public debate into question—before now, he says citizens could expect the government to listen to the opposing views on a subject before making a decision.

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Comments

Expected This

When Mr H was first elected to PM before a majority this behaviour was already clearly in play, so why is everyone so surprised now? The worst election results in my lifetime was the day he got that majority. What really irritates me is how many Canadians made a deliberate choice not to vote.

Harper is a dork

Who voted that putz into office anywayz, sad that anyone would jeoporadize the state of the planet for $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.....sickening!

 

Re: Pipeline debate

People have to stop protesting and start sueing over these issues.   We own the land and the government holds it in trust for us.   That means in order to institute change we need to take them to court.  Yelling at them from a forest doesn't do anything.    

Harper

Harper may well be the best PM in living memory. His speech at Davos last week was statesmanlike, pointing not only to the problems so many people pretend don't exist and wish to bury, but also to their solutions. His gov'ts comments on the pipeline debate were a breath of fresh air in an environment of political correctness. Environmental groups like Forestethics need to grow up if they want to taken seriously and anything more than obstructionist and anti-prosperity. Mulroney promised to remake Canada. He didn't get the chance and went off in the wrong direction with Meech Lake and the Constitutional Accord. Perhaps Harper will finish the job. I certainly hope so.

How billions are stolen in Canada

http://youtu.be/aNh5laKO22o

scary time indeed, with every thing owned by the people of Canada, "for sale" by your governments to the highest corporate bidder.

Resources as the article suggests is just one of many such items for sale.  The video shows how your financial safety is also up for sale to corporate raiders.

cheers to your financial health

 

 

Some of us welcomed the

Some of us welcomed the majority as we wanted a government that would rule on its own platform and not on the platform of the party that wanted to form the government and was defeated.

After the corruption of the Chretien years Harper has been a breath of fresh air - by no means perfect but definitely an improvement over what went before.

I felt sorry for Martin - I disagree with a lot of what he stands for but he got handed a terrible hand to play by Chretien and the systemic rot in the Liberal party has led to where we are now. On the financial side a lot of what Harper has done couldn't have been managed without the financial underpinnings that were Martin's focus - too bad Chretien had given him a poisoned chalice!

As for the NDP, despite all the Layton hagiography I couldn't respect the man as he spoke a different platform in French than in English and made promises in Quebec that simply cannot be kept without leading directly to the destruction of Canada. The image looked great but there was no substance.

I'm not wild about what we have now but it's a dramatic improvement over what went before.

Harper

Brian wrote:

Harper may well be the best PM in living memory. His speech at Davos last week was statesmanlike, pointing not only to the problems so many people pretend don't exist and wish to bury, but also to their solutions. His gov'ts comments on the pipeline debate were a breath of fresh air in an environment of political correctness. Environmental groups like Forestethics need to grow up if they want to taken seriously and anything more than obstructionist and anti-prosperity. Mulroney promised to remake Canada. He didn't get the chance and went off in the wrong direction with Meech Lake and the Constitutional Accord. Perhaps Harper will finish the job. I certainly hope so.

 

"Didnt get the chance to remake Canada"? TWO majority governments isn't long enough?? Oy ve!

Debate, Reason, and non-cooperation

The problem is money. It costs money to sue and lots of money at that. It takes time to sue, the oi pipelinel is already built by then. Amongst those who are concerned about the issue, there is too much discord, difference of opinion, and misunderstanding about what responsible energy development really means; . Furthermore, too many citizens (canadian) treat free market and capitalism like an untouchable religion and lastly too many of my fellow canadian citizens are just plain apathetic and refuse to accept that the larger picuture at stake here is our personal freedom of speach, association, and the right to issue-based involvement without fear of intimidation. Ironically, War costs money. Show me the money, and I will join the subscription campaign.