Open letter to Speaker of the House Andrew Scheer:
It has come to my attention that Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver used a government of Canada website to promote resource-based projects such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. In his open letter, Mr. Oliver accused people with concerns over harm to the environment of being “radicals.”
Mr. Oliver’s letter is troublesome on many levels. It isn’t surprising that a Conservative minister resorts to name-calling in an attempt to make scapegoats of critics. That appears to be the go-to tactic by many members of the Conservative party.
But it is disappointing that we cannot expect better behaviour from our elected leaders.
Secondly, it isn’t clear what Mr. Oliver meant when he said: “These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system.” In 2010, the Supreme Court prevented the Conservative government from neutralizing the Environmental Assessment Act by disallowing a proposed amendment, which would have allowed ministers to cherry-pick the scope of environmental assessment.
Recently, the government shut down committee work on new proposed amendments, creating a fear that there is a new plan afoot to gut the act without debate. Mr. Oliver seems to think that we should just waive regulations and investigation into the environmental impacts of resource-based projects, ramming them through. So who is doing the hijacking here?
Thirdly, Mr. Oliver appears to object to, while not objecting to, citizen participation. Are we to assume from his confusing diatribe that citizens can participate only if they agree with the proposed developments? Or does he believe that people who disagree with the Conservative agenda aren’t real Canadians?
Finally, Mr. Oliver states that regulatory reviews “must be based on science and the facts.” This appears on the surface to be a reasonable statement. But given the Conservative party’s well-documented dislike of fact-based policy (see the Omnibus Crime Bill) and that government of Canada scientists are gagged, this statement appears to be a cruel joke.
But none of the above concerns are within your area of authority as Speaker of the House, Mr. Scheer. I am writing to complain about the use of a publicly-owned government of Canada website to publish partisan propaganda. Minister Oliver’s letter wasn’t an information piece for the education of Canadians. Mr. Oliver’s letter was open advocacy for the resource-based industry (and by inference, Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline) and an attempt to slander concerned citizens who object to being railroaded.
I have complained to my MP, Ryan Leef, about similar abuses of privilege by other Conservative MPs. Are we to see our government websites unscrupulously used as free propaganda tools?
I hope you will reprimand Mr. Oliver. You might remind him and other parliamentarians that the government of Canada and its services belong to the citizens of Canada and not to any political party.
If companies like Enbridge, or those who shill for said companies, wish to advertise, I would prefer that they pay for it themselves and do so openly. Also, there are regulations (that pesky word again) to enforce truth in advertisement Ã something government of Canada websites don’t have to comply with, apparently.