The Liberal Scarf: "Limiting information" on oilsands probe demonstrates Harper government problems with both openness and the environment

This story out of The Star hits at two major problems of the Harper government – an inability to take environmental concerns seriously, and a desire to limit access to critical information by the media and citizens.

Environment Canada’s enforcement branch asked a spokesman to “limit information” given to reporters about how long it took to launch a federal investigation into a serious Alberta oilsands leak last summer.

The comments were included in more than 100 pages of emails obtained by the Star that were generated in response to questions from journalists last summer about the mysterious leak in Cold Lake, Alta., that now totals about 1.2 million litres of bitumen emulsion, a mixture of heavy oil and water.
The incident itself was not publicly disclosed until a report by the Star in July 2013. More than 100 animals died near the site of the spill, which continues to release heavy oil above the surface, one year later….
Liberal environment critic John McKay said the case seems to be another example ofHarper’s government favouring one industrial sector over others, while attempting to keep news about spills and environmental damage “secret” for as long as possible.
“It is upsetting that the Harper government’s lack of transparency and disregard for our wildlife, water and environment is something we have come to expect,” said McKay, who represents Scarborough-Guildwood in Parliament.”
It is absolutely critical to develop Canada’s and Alberta’s natural resources in a responsible way to help grow the economy. But stories such as these do nothing to help the Harper government’s reputation as uncaring towards the environment, which has had a significantly negative impact on Canada’s trade relations with the United States and the ability to market Canada as a responsible energy power. Canada will not see it’s full economic potential from natural resources until we have a government that doesn’t see the economy and the need for strong environmental regulations and social licences as enemies, but as complimentary to ensure prosperity for all Canadians. 



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