Free Speech

DFO declines interview with scientist on oilsands because it disagrees with media report

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has declined an interview request with a scientist to discuss the environmental impacts of oilsands development because it objected to a recent Postmedia News report, a federal government spokesman wrote in an email.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is one of seven federal departments and agencies under investigation by Parliament’s Information Commissioner, Suzanne Legault, over allegations that the government is “muzzling” and restricting access to government scientists. (...)

Artist finds inspiration in Canadian government's attempt to silence her

Photo from Franke James

Canada, under the government of Stephen Harper, has exhibited little patience for dissent. The government has muzzled government scientists, insulted Nasa climate experts, and dismissed environmental protesters as dangerous radicals.

But there is apparently one woman whom the government can't shut up: the Toronto environmental writer, illustrator and activist Franke James, who turned the efforts to silence her into material for a new book. (...)

New in the Documentation Project: Physicians for Global Survival

Physicians for Global Survival

" In 2004, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) initiated an audit of Physicians for Global Survival (PGS) with respect to its charitable activities. On July 24, 2012, PGS received a letter from the CRA informing the organization that its status as a registered charity had been revoked. As a result, PGS can no longer issue tax receipts to its donors. The CRA stated that the objective of PGS is “inherently political” and thus it does not qualify as a charity. (...) "

New in the Documentation Project: Sierra Club Canada Foundation

Sierra Club Canada 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. The objective was to trigger an audit from the CRA and, potentially, the loss of charitable status for the Foundation.

The Conservative government has made claims that environmental charities like Sierra Club Canada are engaging in “radical” behaviour that is not in line with Canada’s national interests." (...)

New in Documentation Project: Edgar Schmidt

" In December 2012, Edgar Schmidt sued the federal government for failing to take adequate steps to verify whether proposed bills violate the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. According to Schmidt, the Department of Justice “had its lawyers apply only a flawed and minimal screening test. It does not identify and report on legislation that the department itself considers almost certainly to be illegal and unconstitutional.” After the court case was launched, Schmidt was suspended without pay for “violating his duties as a lawyer and public servant.” "

Voices-Voix contributes to 2013 State of Civil Society Report

2013 State of Civil Society Report

The Report "State of Civil Society 2013: Creating an Enabling Environment" by the CIVICUS Alliance has just been released. With a chapter "Silencing Voices and Dissent in Canada" p.128 by Pearl Eliadis (Voices-Voix), Nikki Skuce (Forest Ethics Advocacy), and Fraser Reilly-King (CCIC).

2013 State of Civil Society Report

State of Civil Society 2013: Creating an Enabling Environment. With a case study "Silencing Voices and Dissent in Canada" p.128 by Pearl Eliadis (Voices-Voix), Nikki Skuce (Forest Ethics Advocacy), and Fraser Reilly-King (CCIC):

" In the past six years, civil society in Canada has witnessed a broad and deep decline in the space afforded to organisations working on the progressive side of the policy agenda. Since 2010, Voices-Voix, a Canadian civil society organisation (CSO) coalition has been documenting this phenomenon, and has published one hundred case studies, about half of which are about civil society organisations, activists and human rights defenders.2 (...) "

Public servants need to stand up to government: Page

Photo by Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

(...) The former Parliamentary Budget Officer slammed the country’s top bureaucrats for weak leadership that has allowed paralyzing fear to spread throughout the public service and may leave Canada with irreversible scars.

With nearly three decades of public service under his belt, Page said he has never seen people so afraid – a fear that stops them from doing research that may contradict the current government’s ideology. (...)

Two more Tory MPs agitate for freedom of speech in House

More Harper government MPs are standing in the Commons to publicly challenge the Prime Minister’s Office’s iron grip over what caucus members can say in the chamber.

What's charitable status, and why is Harper's Conservative government obsessed with limiting it?

 Photo by Remy Steinegger/Vancouver Observer.

Some of you may have heard that Physicians for Global Survival (PGS) recently lost its charitable tax status. (...)

How can an organization given a Nobel Prize in 1985 be declared, a little over 25 years later, so reprehensible that its ability to give out charitable tax receipts to donors has to be snatched away? (…)