A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rock Snot a State Secret?

Back in May of this year a reporter from The Canadian Press made a request to speak to Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientist Max Bothwell the recognized expert on Rock Snot (a single-celled algae that attaches to rocks on river bottoms) what followed can only be called bizarre. It most certainly shows exactly how far the Harper Regime has moved from their 'Open and Accountable' promise when they took power and reinforces what we already know about their perchance for suppressing information, particularly science information.
Having never received the requested interview the reporter filed an access to information request to see why not and recently received '110 pages of emails to and from 16 different federal government communications operatives' regarding this simple request for an interview!

Many hours after the request was made the morning of May 8, an email from Robin Browne, strategic communications advisor for the Communications Division of Environment Canada, contained a list of responses for the approval of David Boerner, director general for water science and technology in the ministry.
"CP asked to interview Max today but media relations is negotiating that to buy us more time. Thanks!" he wrote.

One might wonder why they needing more time to simply arrange an interview with a scientist about Rock Snot, it seems the answer to that is that nobody could come up with an 'approved script' for Max Borhwell (who knows this subject better than anyone else in Canada) to regurgitate.
In a frenzy of emails trying to find "approved" responses. It appeared they were not located, and approval had to begin from scratch.

Bothwell even tried to help things along "I will search my computer for the approved responses from the last interview," Bothwell wrote to a growing list of media handlers.
That unleashed a frenzy of emails trying to find the aforementioned "approved" responses. It appeared they were not located, and approval had to begin from scratch. The emails refer to "agreed answers" for the scientist and "approved interview script" throughout.
"Can we prepare answers to these questions please," Danny Kingsberry, acting manager of media relations, wrote. "I will get necessary approvals and we will schedule the interview after."

So the question becomes if a scientist cant answer questions about Rock Snot but must have 'approved scripts' for any interview what would be the response and how many individuals and departments would generate how much paperwork if we asked for information on, lets say, the muzzling of government employees and why such approvals are necessary?

No aspect of responsible government is more fundamental than having the trust of citizens. Canadians' faith in the institutions and practices of government has been eroded. This new government trusts in the Canadian people, and its goal is that Canadians will once again trust in their government. It is time for accountability. From the 2006 Throne Speech.

If being accountable means hiding information from the citizens so that they know not what is happening the the Harper Regime has succeeded in their mission.

Even more troubling is the news that even their own Members of Parliament cannot get information from certain departments. Recently Larry Miller MP for Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound requested “all information and details related to Claim (for portions of Sauble Beach) by Saugeen Ojibway Nation'.
“Miller says he has been trying for some time now to get more information from the department's lawyers and staff but so far he has heard nothing back. He says because the Department of Aboriginal affairs and Northern Development refuses to release any information to him or the Minister's office -- he wonders if they have something to hide.”

He goes on to say his next step, may be to file a freedom of information request!!

If a Minister in your own government has to file a FOI request to get information regarding an important issue within their own riding what does this say about say about the regimes respect for the parliamentary system, democracy and the public's right to information. Being the Conservative that he is Mr Miller blames the bureaucrats for the problem, I would suggest MR Miller that said Government employees are doing EXACTLY what they are told to do by the PMO. Perhaps its time you opened your eyes and realized that the sun does not shine out of Harpers arse and encourage you colleagues to turf this guy and return to a parliamentary democracy.

Oh and this may be of interest whereby all communications regarding the finding of one of Franklins ships was suspended until King Harper could announce it himself, the only real surprise there was that he actually made the announcement whilst in Canada!

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Owen Gray said...

They're afraid -- deathly afraid, Rural -- that the truth will out.

Rural said...

We can only try and let it out where they will not, Owen