On December 5, 2016, the Canadian federal government announced a new position within the Ministry of Science: Chief Science Advisor. The Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, announced that the primary goal of this position is to ensure that scientific evidence is well incorporated into government decision- and policy-making.
A series of changes to the NEB Act in 2012 limited the scope of the National Energy Board’s project reviews and public participation opportunities. The Board also exercised its discretionary authority to apply these new provisions in ways that effectively silenced many environmental and Indigenous peoples’ voices in these proceedings.
The previous federal Conservative government waged a systematic assault on public science. The assault included the natural and social sciences. It was not restricted to government scientists, but ran the full gamut of organizations connected to scientific research: government departments, at arms-length government funded organizations, organizations that funded other research, universities, NGOs and individual researchers who obtained grants through one of the funding agencies, and even included a UN convention conducting research relevant to climate change.
The current federal government’s hostility toward environmental groups is well documented. Since coming to power in 2006, the Conservative government has defunded and attempted to discredit several environmental research and advocacy groups. They have positioned environmentalists as a threat to Canadian security.
Environmental Defence is one of Canada’s most important environmental organizations. It has charitable status. In early 2011, it started to undergo a routine audit by the Canada Revenue Agency. Towards the end of the year, the auditors indicated that the audit was nearing completion and that there were no major concerns.
2 February 2016—On January 20 2016, Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, announced the winding down of the special review that had been set up by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) under the Harper government to audit registered charities’ political activities.
PEARL – the Polar Environment Atmosphere Research Laboratory – is Canada’s northernmost facility carrying out research on atmospheric conditions and on how climate is changing in one of the most sensitive regions of the planet.
In 2012 Andrew Frank, former staff of ForestEthics, alleged that staff within the Prime Minister’s office had labeled ForestEthics an “enemy of the people of Canada” and threatened to jeopardize its funding relationship with Tides Canada, a charitable foundation.
In December 2012, a pro-oil sands lobby group named Ethical Oil with close ties to the Conservative government filed a complaint with the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) against the Sierra Club Canada Foundation (SCCF). The objective was to trigger an audit from the CRA and, potentially, the loss of charitable status for the Foundation.