Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Harper's Fingerprints Are All Over This One

It is surely a mark of the times in which we live that a climate of fear, suspicion and mistrust permeates the ranks of those who work for the federal government. Stories abound of the muzzling of scientists, the termination of employees, the closing of research facilities. Having just completed Mark Bourrie's Kill The Messenger, an excoriating analysis of the Harper regime's vindictive and paranoid nature, there is no doubt in my mind that those stories are true, leading to the inevitable conclusion that freedom of expression is one of far too many democratic rights that have suffered tremendously under this government.

The recent termination of a Parks Canada employee, a smoking gun if there ever was one, offers ample illustration. Dr. John Wilmshurst, the science and resource conservation manager for Jasper National Park, was fired on June 11.

Mystery surrounds his termination, as no one will speak out, but the likely answer is found in something that happened last year.
In a 2014 story produced by the Canadian Press and picked up by the CBC, Huffington Post, McLean’s, and other major news outlets, Wilmshurst described research he and his colleagues were doing on the melting Athabasca Glacier. He predicted that the ice could be gone in his children’s lifetime, a statement supported by recently-published research out of the University of British Columbia.

“The information that we’re getting is pretty clear that climate is warming,” he told the camera. “[Climate change] is definitely something that’s happening and it’s happening because of our activities.”

You can see the 'error' Wilmshurst made here. He drew the clear and irrefutable connection between climate change and human activity, something that is anathema in Harperland, something that is deemed seditious in our imperiled democracy. Had he followed the expected protocol of applying for permission to speak to the media, a laboursome process that more often than not results in refusal, Wilmshurst pointed observations would not have seen the light of day. Here are a few cases that illustrate the roadblocks government scientists face:
In 2010, Natural Resources Canada scientist Scott Dallimore was not allowed to talk about research into a flood in northern Canada 13,000 years ago without getting pre-approval from political staff in the office of then-Natural Resources minister Christian Paradis. Postmedia News said requests were only approved after reporters' deadlines had already passed.

In 2011, Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist Kristina Miller was blocked from speaking to the media about her research suggesting viral infections may be linked to higher salmon mortality.

Environment Canada's media office granted no interviews after a team published a paper in 2011 concluding that a 2 degree C increase in global temperatures may be unavoidable by 2100.

Postmedia science reporter Margaret Munro requested data from radiation monitors run by Health Canada following the earthquake and nuclear plant problems in Japan. Munro said Health Canada would not approve an interview with one of its experts responsible for the detectors.

Unquestioning 'loyalty' to the regime is the only thing that matters, no matter how competent and respected individuals may be. The messages taped on Wilmshurst's former office door convey the sense of a man deeply respected and sorely missed:
“Best manager I’ve had in 33 years,” one note read.

“A source of inspiration,” said another. “Still our Chief.”

“Forever our leader.”

Such sentiments account for nothing in Harper's poisoned kingdom, and for that reason, Canada needs a powerful purgative; if we don't administer the necessary tough medicine in October, I fear all will be lost for the country that I have known and loved my entire life.


  1. Your phrase is pointed and accurate, Lorne. We've gone from being the "Peaceable Kingdom" to the "Poisoned Kingdom."

    1. I hope that sufficient numbers of Canadians are finally realizing the debasement our country has experienced these past nine plus years, Owen.

  2. This simply confirms what so many of us have known for some time now regarding the Harper Regime , if the message is not of our approved content, kill the messenger. If the average citizen realized even 50% of the BS this lot is feeding us there would be rioting in the streets. A better solution is to vote ABC, not ideal but very necessary!

    1. I was thinking of you, Rural, as I read Kill The Messengers and writing this post. Your herculean efforts in chronicling the misdeeds of this corrupt regime are appreciated, and I completely agree that if Canadians were even only somewhat aware of what they have been doing, they would toss the whole load of them out. It sickens me to realize that there are just too many abuses for anyone to keep track of.