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The harper government has trashed and destroyed environmental books and documents


TRIBE Member
By Jordan Sowunmi


Initial reports said some books were literally burned which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has subsequently denied. Photo via.

In the first few days of 2014, scientists, journalists, and environmentalists were horrified to discover that the Harper government had begun a process to close seven of the 11 of Canada’s world-renown Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries, citing a consolidation and digitizing effort as the reason. Reports immediately proliferated that the process was undertaken in careless haste, with the officials sent to gather and transfer the documents allegedly neglecting to take proper inventory of the centuries’ worth of documents containing vital information on environmental life, from aquatic ecosystems to water safety and polar research, with some documents reportedly dumped in landfills or burned, leading some scientists to refer to it as a ‘libricide.'

Soon after, a widely disseminated photograph emerged displaying a dumpster at the Maurice Lamontage Institute in Mont-Joli Quebec, stuffed with hundreds of carelessly discarded historic books and documents. In Halifax, Kelly Wheelan-Eans, an environmental researcher with the Manitoban Wetlands told CBC News that he saved hundreds of documents that he found abandoned in an empty library. “It was really hard to figure out where to start because there was so many documents that you just went 'Oh my God,'” he said, disbelief palpable in his voice. “They just left this lying here?”

The incautious nature of the consolidation effort adds another alarming chapter to a Harper government that appears deadset on directing how scientific research is conducted in Canada. Last Sunday, CBC’s the Fifth Estate aired an investigation on how the Harper government has dealt with scientists over the past seven years. The doc illustrated a battle between an ideology driven administration and mostly apolitical scientists simply pursuing the facts gleaned from their research, and how it led many to be silenced and defunded. Scientists discussed being hamstrung and dissuaded from pursuing politically inconvenient facts, instances of research that didn't fit policy directives being curtailed or shut down completely; world-renown researchers who were summarily dismissed and barred from accessing their work; and programs monitoring food inspection, water quality and climate change being reduced. The federal government has dismissed over 2,000 scientists since 2008.

The government denies political objectives have anything to do with the decision to close the DFO libraries, citing $473,000 in savings and a lack of public interest as motivation for the decision.

Still, regardless of the incentives behind the recent cuts, it’s easy to see why on-lookers are viewing this politically suspicious decision with skepticism. Since taking office in 2006, the Harper government has governed with an iron-fist, establishing unprecedented barriers to information on the road to becoming the most secretive administration in Canadian history.

This type of fanatical secrecy comes with a host of problems for the public. “Harper’s government is different from previous administrations in the disdain it’s had for the media, and the obsession his government has with controlling the message,” said Dr. Jonathan Rose, an associate professor of Political Science at Queen’s University. “Ensuring that citizens have access to the right kind of information to make the proper decisions is integral, and if government is misleading in its communications, then the citizens are unable to do their democratic duty. It’s a problem because it inhibits the public’s decision-making process.”

As a whole, the Harper government has proven itself to be no friends of science. An editorial in the New York Times earlier this year excoriated Harper for a prolonged campaign in muzzling scientists. “The government of Canada—led by Stephen Harper—has made it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists,” wrote Verlyn Klinkenborg. “Now the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change, fisheries and anything to do with the Alberta tar sands—source of the diluted bitumen that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.”


The cuts mean fewer scientists will be able to research the waters of the Canadian Basin. Photo via.

Much of this obfuscation is happening with little outrage from the general public, allowing the Harper government’s shadowy bureaucracy to become the new normal. And it’s not because Canadians are unaware of Harper’s cloak and dagger governing. In a poll conducted by Ipsos Reid for Postmedia and Global News earlier this year, two-thirds of Canadians stated they believed that “the Harper Conservatives are too secretive and have not kept their promise to govern according to high ethical standards.”

While the Department of Fisheries and Oceans currently contains over 600,000 pieces of material, only 30,000 have been digitized. According to the Department of Fisheries website, they will be discarding duplicates and adding the rest online by request. They failed to mention anything about the books that will not be digitized due to copyright laws.

Keeping the public and press in the dark about what’s happening at the DFO is not without dangerous historical precedent, says Kelly Toughill, a journalism professor at King’s University in Halifax. “About 18 years ago the federal government ignored, then muzzled DFO scientists who were warning that cod was being over-fished in Newfoundland,” she wrote to me over email. “The result was the complete collapse of the cod fishery and the complete collapse of the economy of what was then Canada's poorest province.”

In a 1995 piece that garnered him a National Newspaper Award, Canadian Press reporter Steve Thorne wrote of scientists at the DFO whose research was suppressed and neutered by the government in an eerily similar fashion to what many Canadian scientists are saying today. “Federal fisheries officials routinely destroy memos, minutes and other records to hide politically unpalatable science and thwart access-to-information requests,” he wrote. “[…] Officials at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have even tried to discredit scientists whose findings don’t jibe with political agendas.”

Whether the recent cuts to the DFO were simply capitulations to budget concerns, driven by ideological objectives, or something in between is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is how the Harper government has made the muddling and obsessive guarding of information an administrative mandate, leaving Canadians in the dark in a time when international government encroachments on our personal information are at an all-time high.

“The next several months will see a battle over people who want greater accountability and transparency and a government who will try to frame the election message one of fiscal responsibility,” said Dr. Rose. “And it’s up to the voters to decide which they find most persuasive.”

The Harper Government Has Trashed and Destroyed Environmental Books and Documents | VICE Canada

This is clearly some backwards bullshit.
Stop Bill C-10


TRIBE Member
they've discredited and scorned every scientist and environmentalist who's tried talking about the Oil Sands, Arctic Drilling, etc.

the gag orders still stand, and few if any are willing to go against it.

Harper's killing Canada, plain and simple.

Boss Hog

TRIBE Member
He's got a completely myopic view of what a good economy is.


Nothing else.

Even in the Economic Action plan ads (that hasn't even happened and outspent the Liberal ad scam) the only job they featured was going to work in the oilsands. At least that's the only ads I saw all summer.

His cabinet is a joke. His finance minister is a joke. His view of Canada is completely out of touch with modern reality.

And the whole "accountable and transparency" thing? Best example of doublespeak I've seen, maybe ever.
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TRIBE Member
the Oil Sands environmental projected impact, through 2030, is NO WHERE near what the Harper Government says it can achieve.
no where near.

they want to push this as hard and as fast as they can.
even Obama has some reservations against this, and, i'm quite stunned.

Fuck Harper. He's making our countries name a serious joke on a worldwide scale. i'm not cool with that. just got banned from his FB page after 2 days.
fuck him.

He will be the leading reason why a massive anti government revolt will occur in Canada.


TRIBE Member
Hundreds of federal programs and world renowned research facilities have been shut down or had their funding reduced by the federal government. This list was compiled by the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.

Environmental Emergency Response Program
Urban Wastewater Program
Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
Smokestacks Emissions Monitoring Team
Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission
National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Winnipeg Office
Municipal Water and Wastewater Survey
Environmental Protection Operations
Compliance Promotion Program
Action Plan on Clean Water
Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) (PEARL lost its $1.5 million annual budget when the government stopped funding the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science (CFCAS) . In May 2013, the federal government announced the facility would get a $ 1 million a year grant for the next five years. But according to Professor Tom Duck, of Dalhousie University, with the loss of CFCAS, atmospheric and climate research will be funded at less than 70 per cent of the level it was funded at in 2006.)
Sustainable Water Management Division
Environmental Effects Monitoring Program
Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan
Chemicals Management Plan
Canadian Centre for Inland Waters
Clean Air Agenda
Air Quality Health Index
Species at Risk Program
Weather and Environmental Services
Substance and Waste Management
Ocean Contaminants & Marine Toxicology Program
Experimental Lakes Area (Under the Bill-38 the ELA was shut down. As of January 2014, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Ontario government are working out an agreement with the federal government to take over the facility.)
DFO Marine Science Libraries
Centre for Offshore Oil & Gas Energy Research
Kitsilano Coast Guard Station
St. Johns Marine Traffic Centre
St. Anthony’s Marine Traffic Centre
Conservation and Protection Office
Conservation and Protection Office (L’anse au Loup, NL)
Conservation and Protection Office (Trepassey, NL)
Conservation and Protection Office (Rigolet, NL)
Conservation and Protection Office (Burgeo, NL)
Conservation and Protection Office (Arnold’s Cove, NL)
Conservation and Protection Office (Baddeck, NS)
Conservation and Protection Office (Canso, NS)
Conservation and Protection Office (Sheet Harbour, NS)
Conservation and Protection Office (Woodstock, NB)
Conservation and Protection Office (Port Hood, NS)
Conservation and Protection Office (Wallace, NS)
Conservation and Protection Office (Kedgwick, NB)
Conservation and Protection Office (Montague, PEI)
Conservation and Protection Office (Inuvik, NT)
Conservation and Protection Office (Rankin Inlet, NU)
Conservation and Protection Office (Clearwater, BC)
Conservation and Protection Office (Comox, BC)
Conservation and Protection Office (Hazelton, BC)
Conservation and Protection Office (Quesnel, BC)
Conservation and Protection Office (Pender Harbour, BC)
Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Measures Program
Species-at-Risk Program
Habitat Management Program
DFO Institute of Ocean Sciences (Sidney, BC)
Freshwater Institute - Winnipeg
Oil Spill Counter-Measures Team
Maurice-Lamontagne Institute’s French language library
Canadian Coast Guard Management
Water Pollution Research Lab (Sidney, BC)
Water Pollution Research Lab (Winnipeg, MB)
Water Pollution Research Lab (Burlington, ON)
Water Pollution Research Lab (Mont-Joli, QC)
Water Pollution Research Lab (Moncton, NB)
Water Pollution Research Lab (Dartmouth, NS)
St. Andrew Biological Station
Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility
Ice Information Partnership
Motor Vehicle Fleet
Inshore Rescue Boat Program
Species at Risk Atlantic Salmon Production Facilities
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
At-Sean Observer Programs
Financial Management Services
Pacific Forestry Centre, Satellite Office (Prince George, BC)
Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing
Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program
Isotopes Supply Initiative
Clean Energy Fund
Sustainable Development Technology Canada – Next Generation Biofuels Fund
Program of Energy Research and Development
Pacific Forestry Centre
Astronomy Interpretation Centre – Centre of the Universe
MRI research, Institute Biodiagnostics
Polar Continental Shelf Progam
Canadian Neutron Beam Centre
Aquatic Ecotoxicology, Aquatic and Crop Resource Development
Molecular Biochemistry Laboratory, Aquatic and Crop Resource Development
Plant Metabolism Research, Aquatic and Crop Resource Development
Human Health Therapeutics research program
Automotive and Surface Transportation program
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research
Environmental Risks to Health program
Substance Use and Abuse program
First Nations and Inuit Primary Health Care program
Health Infrastructure Support for First Nations and Inuit program
Interim Federal Health Program
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration
Environmental Knowledge, Technology, Information, and Measurement program
Science, Innovation and Adoption program
Rural and Co-operatives Development program
Farm Debt Mediation Service
Centre for Plant Health (Sidney, BC)
National Aboriginal Health Organization
First Nations Statistical Institute
Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth
First Nations and Inuit Health
Fertilizer Pre-Market Efficacy Assessment program
Enforcement of Product of Canada label
RADARSAT Constellation Mission
Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Research station
Kluane Lake Research Station
Bamfield Marine Science Centre
Microfungal Collection and Herborium
Biogeoscience Institute
Coriolis II research Vessel
OIE Laboratory for Infectious Salmon Anaemia
Canadian Phycological Culture Centre
Brockhouse Institute
Polaris Portable Observatories for Lithospheric Analysis and Research
Mount Megantic Observatory
Smoke Stacks Emissions Monitoring Team
National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy
Environmental Protections Operations Compliant Promotion Program,
Sustainable Water Management Division,
Environmental Effects Monitoring program,
Fresh Water Institute
Canadian Centre for Inlands Waters (Burlington)
World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre
Environmental Emergencies Program
Parks Canada
Montreal Biosphere
Statistics Canada
Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences
Laboratory for the Analysis of Natural and Synthetic Environmental Toxicants
National Ultrahigh-field NMR Facility for Solids
IsoTrace AMS Facility
Canadian Phycological Culture Centre
Canadian Resource Centre for Zebrafish Genetics
Neuroendocrinology Assay Laboratory at the University of Western Ontario
Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding
Portable Observatories for Lithospheric Analysis and Research Investigating (POLARIS) (Ontario)
Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics
Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research
St. John’s Centrifuge Modelling Facility
Quebec/Eastern Canada high field NMR facility
Félix d’Hérelle Reference Center for Bacterial Viruses
Canadian Neutron Beam Laboratory
The Compute/Calcul Canada
Center for Innovative Geochronology
Biogeoscience Institute
Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences
Pacific Northwest Consortium Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Centre for Molecular and Materials Science at TRIUMF
Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research
Canadian Cosmogenic Nuclide Exposure Dating Facility
Atlantic Regional Facilities for Materials Characterization
The Canadian SuperDARN/PolarDARN facility



TRIBE Member
The wretched product of ideology intersecting with science. These guys are so dogmatic, and Harper especially.

They cling to their ideology and the bankrupt fruits of free market fundamentalism the way children cling to the myth of Santa Claus a little longer than they should...

Conservative politics need not be in basic conflict with science and prudent management based on evidence. These guys have tarnished Conservatism by tying it in with this kind of bullshit.
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TRIBE Member
That is a worrying trend for sure but that could mean that the government just does not have the money to run all these programs. They want to balance the books instead. Other wise they have to borrow the money to fund these programs that don't have a ROI instead they have on going costs. Only way to do it is to borrow from the next generation. How long can you borrow money to finance programs that don't return a profit?


TRIBE Member
If that argument is true then we should be spending more on science - gives back more than you put in and gives us a chance of developing advantages to make it so we don't need to sell resources to balance the books..


TRIBE Member
True...we should be investing in science, as well as the arts. Gotta keep both sides of the brain healthy.

But police,prisons and mandatory minimums seem to be the order of the day in 2014. Nevermind looking after veterans either.

S'ok...elections are coming up. My hope is that the new folks in power will shift things a bit.


TRIBE Member
The scarcity ruse is what you use when you want to cut something from an ideological committment but don't want to say that.

it doesn't make sense on aggregate because we are still spending boatloads on tax breaks for corporations, the military, expanded prisons and other conservative priorities.

Also the impact of our debt/deficit is usually exaggerated to reinforce the scarcity gambit (our debt is nowhere near crisis levels), but its always just window dressing around politics. In this case the politics of conservative ideology trumping evidence based policy.

The other issue is many conservatives stop counting when money is spent - they look at the in year cost of supporting program X. Ok, but what does the money DO when it's spent? Where does it go and does it have multiplier effects? These later connections are not considered, its always counted as a loss.

This is how a "conservative" will say we "can't afford" to support more daycare, but when we get more back than we put in when we spend on it, isn't it more like we can't afford NOT to?


TRIBE Member
As a scientist and humanist, it seems the populace quietly accepts this nonsense.

We require more education.

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TRIBE Member
I'm sorry, I have to post again.

My heritage includes the Nazi pograms. The stasi. The brownshirts. The burning of books and reality. Yes, also genocide.

But my heritage also includes the withdrawal from such nonsense, to a place that was hostile.

To see good scientific data disposed is not only an insult against academia but also PROOF that we are being made subserviant slaves. The exact type of servitude that all of our ancestors worked strongly to leave!

How DARE the (unelected) government usurp our data this way!


Boss Hog

TRIBE Member
Fifth Estate doc on how the Harper government has shut down science that's not in favour of developing resources.