16 April 2006

Canadian Climate change expert muzzled

TheStar.com - Climate change expert muzzled: "OTTAWA—The new, heavy communications hand of Conservative Ottawa has reached into the realm of fiction, with an Environment Canada scientist muzzled from speaking about his novel on climate change.
Mark Tushingham's new book is called Hotter than Hell, but yesterday he was plunged into the icy reality of the new Conservative communications regime, where ministers, MPs and the media are encountering strict new controls over the flow of information to the public.
Shortly before Tushingham was due to give a luncheon speech in Ottawa about his novel — a futuristic account of Canada and the U.S. at war over water resources in a globally warmed world — he received an email from the environment minister's office, warning him not to attend the event.
Paradoxically, the incident takes place during the same week the Conservatives unveiled new 'whistleblower' protection, designed to shield outspoken public servants from intimidation and threats to their livelihood.
Also yesterday, the government said it was axing 15 research programs related to the Kyoto climate-change protocol and aimed at reducing the greenhouse gases thought to cause global warming.
Sandra Buckler, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's communications director, says the gag order against Tushingham did not come from the top and Harper told reporters yesterday he was in the dark about the incident.
But Harper then added, in a not-so-subtle warning to the public service: 'We were elected on a particular platform. Our commitment to the people of Canada is to go ahead with that platform. That will include measures we're going to develop over the next year or so to deal with both pollution and greenhouse"

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