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The Web We Weave When We Practice to Deceive

“We are not muzzling scientists.” – Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister.

I shook my head reading Margaret Munro’s Weekend Vancouver Sun article on freedom of information documents that caught Canada’s Minister of the Environment lying about muzzling scientists.

Kent has repeatedly denied that the government is muzzling scientists. But according to the documents, Kent’s office clearly muzzled Environment Canada researcher David Tarasick, preventing him from speaking to a number of media outlets about an unprecedented hole that appeared in the ozone layer above the Arctic in 2011.

According to Munro, “the documents also say Kent’s office and the Privy Council Office, which reports to the prime minister, decide when and if Environment Canada scientists are allowed to brief the media about anything from wildlife to water quality."

Why would the Minister of the Environment block public discussion of scientific work that may be important for the health and safety of Canadians and their environment?

Shouldn’t a minister of the environment be working to inform the public about environmental threats, encouraging the free flow of scientific knowledge and inviting informed citizens to participate in the decision-making process?

OK, it may be a bit naïve expecting politicians to tell the truth. Most Canadians have an idea who benefits when scientists are muzzled and the free exchange of scientific knowledge about environmental threats is constrained.

The real question, then, is why Minister Kent seems so comfortable lying to Canadians about muzzling scientists when he knows that we know what he is doing?

 

Threats to our environment are often hidden from public view.
So we embarked on a little experiment at The Narwhal: letting our investigative journalists loose to file as many freedom of information requests as their hearts desired.

In just six months, they filed a whopping 233 requests — and with those, they unearthed a veritable mountain of government documents to share with readers across Canada.

But the reality is this kind of digging takes lots of time and no small amount of money.

As many newsrooms cut staff, The Narwhal has doubled down on hiring reporters to do hard-hitting journalism — and we do it all as an independent, non-profit news organization that doesn’t run any advertising.

Will you join the growing chorus of readers who have stepped up to hold the powerful accountable?
Threats to our environment are often hidden from public view.
So we embarked on a little experiment at The Narwhal: letting our investigative journalists loose to file as many freedom of information requests as their hearts desired.

In just six months, they filed a whopping 233 requests — and with those, they unearthed a veritable mountain of government documents to share with readers across Canada.

But the reality is this kind of digging takes lots of time and no small amount of money.

As many newsrooms cut staff, The Narwhal has doubled down on hiring reporters to do hard-hitting journalism — and we do it all as an independent, non-profit news organization that doesn’t run any advertising.

Will you join the growing chorus of readers who have stepped up to hold the powerful accountable?

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The Narwhal’s reporters are telling environment stories you won’t read about anywhere else. Stay in the loop by signing up for a weekly dose of independent journalism.
As The Narwhal turns five, I’m thinking about the momentous outpouring of public generosity — a miracle of sorts — that’s allowed us to prove the critics wrong. More than 6,000 people just like you donate whatever they can afford to make independent, high-stakes journalism about the natural world in Canada free for everyone to read. Help us keep the dream alive for another five years by becoming a member today and we’ll mail you a copy of our beautiful 2023 print magazine. — Carol Linnitt, co-founder
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As The Narwhal turns five, I’m thinking about the momentous outpouring of public generosity — a miracle of sorts — that’s allowed us to prove the critics wrong. More than 6,000 people just like you donate whatever they can afford to make independent, high-stakes journalism about the natural world in Canada free for everyone to read. Help us keep the dream alive for another five years by becoming a member today and we’ll mail you a copy of our beautiful 2023 print magazine. — Carol Linnitt, co-founder
Keep the dream alive.