News

Le réchauffement climatique risque d’aggraver « considérablement » la pauvreté sur le globe en asséchant les récoltes agricoles et en menaçant la sécurité alimentaire de millions de personnes, a avertit la Banque mondiale (BM) dimanche.

 

L’efficacité énergétique rapporte gros

19-NOV-2014 03:01 PM   Karl Rettino-Parazelli, Le Devoir

Le Canada ajouterait jusqu’à 580 milliards à son PIB en 28 ans s’il empruntait cette voie

 

Oléoduc Énergie Est: pas de sécurité, pas de passage, dit Labeaume

19-NOV-2014 02:56 PM   Stéphanie Martin, La Presse

Même s'il est partisan du projet d'oléoduc Énergie Est de TransCanada Pipeline, le maire de Québec juge qu'il demeure trop de questions sans réponses. «Je ne laisserai pas cette compagnie-là traverser le fleuve si on ne se sent pas en sécurité.»

 

Keystone XL: le Sénat dit non... pour l'instant

18-NOV-2014 02:50 PM   Richard Hétu, La Presse

Tout compte fait, Barack Obama n'aura pas à utiliser son veto pour bloquer le projet Keystone XL. Du moins, pas tout de suite.

 

Canada and the ‘war on science’

20-NOV-2014 02:27 PM   Cynthia MacDonald, Times Higher Education

It has been claimed that since 2009, Harper’s Conservative government has laid off more than 2,000 federally employed scientists. Numerous programmes devoted to the monitoring of climate change, food inspection, water quality and oil spills have been cancelled. In September, hundreds of scientists in lab coats marched on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in protest, even going so far as to hold a mock funeral to mark “the death of evidence”.

 

Canada is falling behind global leaders in R&D

16-NOV-2014 02:10 PM   Barrie Mckenna, The Globe and Mail

The Conservative government wraps virtually everything it does these days in the magic cloak of “jobs and growth.” Trade deals, infrastructure spending, business subsidies and tax breaks for families and small businesses. Everything on the economic front gets the familiar J-and-G spin – even if there’s scant evidence these efforts generate much of either. And yet in one vital area where governments really can make a difference – innovation – Ottawa’s commitment has been inconsistent and its investments wanting.

 

A little over a month ago, the provincial government announced the composition of its “independent” panel to review fracking in the province. As many of us are aware, the panel was announced in August as follow-up to the temporary moratorium on fracking which resulted from massive public opposition to a proposal to introduce the controversial method of oil and gas extraction on the west coast of the island. And although the panel hasn’t yet met, it’s already drawing fire from many quarters. I’ll leave it to others to critique the backgrounds and expertise of those who are on the panel. My own critique would centre on who is not on the panel. There are some serious gaps, and these offer the most telling condemnation of the process.

 

A Cheap and small-minded museum plan

18-NOV-2014 02:18 PM   Andrew Cohen, The Ottawa Citizen

If you want to know just how much the national government disdains the national capital, consider its plans to save the antiquated, ugly and obsolete Canada Science and Technology Museum. The decision, which Heritage Minister Shelly Glover announced Monday, is cheap and small-minded. It will resuscitate a corpse of an institution – a “temporary” facility in a converted bakery in a forlorn corner of the city along an unsightly thoroughfare. It should have been given a decent burial decades ago.

 

A New Direction for Science Policy in Canada ? Get Science Right!

18-NOV-2014 02:14 PM   Angela Regnier, Unpublished Ottawa

On November 27, join us for an evening with journalist Mike De Souza to discuss the impact of the federal government's current approach to science policy, examine ways to protect science in the public interest, and hear the views of representatives from the three main political parties on what should be the role of the federal government with respect to research and post-secondary education.

 

La réduction des investissements fédéraux dans la recherche sur les changements climatiques prive les chercheurs qui y oeuvrent toujours de données essentielles. Interrogé sur les effets des compressions du gouvernement conservateur dans le domaine de la science climatique, le directeur général du consortium Ouranos, Alain Bourque, a noté que les chercheurs peinent désormais à trouver les données requises pour analyser l'évolution des changements climatiques.

 

Stacks of trouble seen if library changes not made

13-NOV-2014 02:04 PM   Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen

Canadians care “passionately” about their community libraries and archives, but Library and Archives Canada, the font of our national memory, remains demoralized and in desperate need of help, says a report released Thursday by the prestigious Royal Society. The Royal Society’s 225-page report is the product of a series of 60 consultations across Canada and more than 125 online submissions. It contains 70 recommendations, ranging from improvements at the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to increased bandwidth for rural communities whose library services lag those in urban centres.

 

A group that doesn't believe carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming has taken aim at a prominent Alberta environmental group's charitable status. The Calgary-based Friends of Science has asked its supporters to write the Canada Revenue Agency about the activities of the Alberta Wilderness Association. "We think there are some questions that should be asked of the CRA," Friends spokeswoman Michelle Stirling said Thursday. The Friends object to the association's refusal to print a rebuttal to an article critical of the group in the Alberta Wilderness newsletter. The article referred to a billboard the Friends rented in Calgary that said the sun is the cause of climate change, not rising greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Science program for northern First Nation communities cut

12-NOV-2014 01:07 PM   The Canadian Press

Tags Funding

The NDP is criticizing a move by the Saskatchewan government to cut funding to a program that encourages aboriginal students to get involved in science. MLA Buckley Belanger says the government cut $10,000 in funding to the Science Ambassador Program, which involves University of Saskatchewan students visiting and educating aboriginal students in northern communities on science.

 

Le Centre canadien de rayonnement synchrotron a réussi à développer des isotopes médicaux à partir de rayons X, une première mondiale qui pourrait changer la donne pour les patients atteints entre autres de maladies cardiaques ou de cancers.

 

La Chambre autorise à nouveau l’oléoduc Keystone XL, défiant Obama (French)

20-NOV-2014 10:18 AM   Associated Press, Le Devoir

Tags Energy

La Chambre des représentants américaine a voté vendredi pour autoriser l’oléoduc controversé Keystone XL, ardemment soutenu par le Canada, mais Barack Obama a laissé entendre qu’il pourrait opposer son veto si la mesure était finalement adoptée par le Sénat.

 

Le mystère des milliers de poissons morts reste entier (French)

17-NOV-2014 10:14 AM   Agence France-Presse, Le Devoir

Le mystère reste entier sur le mal qui terrasse depuis un mois des milliers de poissons argentés dans la baie de Rio : les nouveaux tests réalisés par l’Université fédérale de Rio (UFRJ) n’ont détecté aucune algue toxique ou pollution chimique de l’eau.

 

Wobbling on Climate Change

11-NOV-2014 09:58 AM   Piers J. Sellers, The New York Times

I’m a climate scientist and a former astronaut. Not surprisingly, I have a deep respect for well-tested theories and facts. In the climate debate, these things have a way of getting blurred in political discussions.

 

La réduction des investissements fédéraux dans la recherche sur les changements climatiques prive les chercheurs qui y oeuvrent toujours de données essentielles.

 

Thon rouge: les quotas de pêche relevé de 20% (French)

17-NOV-2014 10:01 AM   Agence France-Presse, La Presse

Tags Fisheries

Les pays pêcheurs de thon rouge ont décidé lundi à Gênes de relever les quotas de pêche en Méditerranée et Atlantique Est de quelque 20 % par an pendant trois ans, a indiqué le WWF, ONG observatrice à la réunion

 

Le G20 s'engage à «éradiquer» l'épidémie d'Ebola (French)

15-NOV-2014 09:59 AM   Agence France-Presse, La Presse

Tags Health

Les pays les plus riches du monde réunis au G20 en Australie se sont engagés samedi à «éradiquer» l'épidémie d'Ebola qui a fait plus de 5000 morts en Afrique de l'Ouest et touche désormais un autre pays de la région, le Mali.

 

PS jobs disappearing faster than expected, report says

11-NOV-2014 09:56 AM   Kathryn May, Ottawa Citizen

Canada’s Conservative government has wiped nearly 37,000 people off the federal payroll and reduced key services for Canada’s veterans and the unemployed and budgets for food safety in the “rush” to pay for its promised tax cuts, according to a new report. The report, by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, concludes that the Conservatives are able to realize their promised surplus and tax breaks at the expense of front-line services, corroded by steady spending cuts that will continue for another two years — even after the books have been balanced.

 

In an absolutely unprecedented move Canada’s Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) announced it will engage in political activity in the lead-up to and during the next federal election. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions,” PIPSC president Debi Daviau said in a press release. “This government has forced non-partisan organizations such as ours to make a very difficult choice: to remain silent or to speak out. We have chosen to speak out,” added Daviau.

 

Michael Rennie is enjoying his new found freedom to speak. Professor Rennie is a biologist at the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) research station, located in an area encompassing 58 freshwater lakes in Ontario's Kenora District. As It Happens spent months trying to arrange interviews with ELA scientists after Ottawa announced it would no longer fund the internationally acclaimed research facility.

 

Seeking to combat his government’s reputation for secrecy, suppression of information and closed-door decision-making, Treasury Board President Tony Clement unveiled an ambitious “action plan on open government” last week. It was so totally disconnected from reality that the initial reaction in the nation’s capital was incredulity. Bitter criticism followed. He pledged to “maximize access to federally funded scientific research,” with no explanation of how this will happen when all 20,000 scientists on the federal payroll are muzzled by his government.

 

Canada could put an already endangered species of tuna at greater risk by asking an international body to raise the quota for the prized fish, say conservationists who want the catch limit to remain the same to allow the stock to rebuild. Katie Schleit of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax said the federal Fisheries Department appears poised to ask for an increase in the quota for western Atlantic Bluefin tuna at a week-long meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas that begins Monday.

 

Yesterday, CJFE held an online chat, “The Chill in Canada’s Climate Science” to discuss the growing issue of climate change scientists being muzzled by the Canadian government. Moderated by CJFE’s Executive Director, Tom Henheffer, the event was held as part of the global campaign to end impunity. The two panelists for the discussion were Raveena Aulakh, environment reporter at the Toronto Star and Dr. Tom Duck, a leading atmospheric scientist. The panelists discussed the increase in censorship that scientists working for the federal government now face, and the challenge this poses to informing the Canadian public of crucial scientific matters that affect them, such as risks posed by climate change.

 

Union launches political but ‘non-partisan’ campaign

07-NOV-2014 09:41 AM   Kathryn May, Ottawa Citizen

More than 400 delegates at the annual meeting of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) voted Friday to “take all necessary” political action – short of becoming partisan – to prepare for the 2015 election and a round of collective bargaining that could end with most members on strike.

 

The union representing scientists and other professionals in the federal public service is abandoning its tradition of neutrality in elections to actively campaign against Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) says delegates to its annual general meeting have agreed the union should be more politically active heading into next year’s federal election.

 

The Conservative government has rejected calls to reform the Access to Information Act as part of a new openness plan. The final version of the federal blueprint on open government for 2014-16 remains silent on updating the 32-year-old law despite public pleas during several consultations — including a recent round of public feedback on a draft version. The final plan, published Thursday, commits the government to making more information and data — including scientific research, federal spending and archival records — readily available.

 

Let my fellow scientists speak

06-NOV-2014 09:32 AM   Michael Rennie, The Ottawa Citizen

Six months ago, I was a government scientist. Then, the general consensus among my colleagues was that communications practice was more limiting than is reasonably necessary. Just last month, a letter signed by 800 international scientists echoed this sentiment, urging the Canadian government to “remove excessive and burdensome restrictions and barriers to scientific communication and collaboration faced by Canadian government scientists.” I worked with DFO for nearly four years. The difference between organizations in both communications policy and practice couldn’t be greater. Under my current employer, our communications department works hard to promote our research in the media. I and other scientists are frequently sought out to speak about our work or assist reporters looking for comment or insight aligning with our expertise.

 

Canada and B.C unprepared for climate-based migration

05-NOV-2014 09:29 AM   Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Tags Climate

A new study co-authored by Simon Fraser University researchers recommends that the federal government create a new immigration class of "climate migrants" to help address the mounting global human displacement associated with climate change. In Preparing BC for Climate Migration, the authors also recommend Canada implement immigration targets and programs to ensure the country absorbs its fair share of those migrants.

 

Republicans, Meet Science

04-NOV-2014 09:25 AM   Frank Bruni, The New York Times

Just days before the midterm elections, we got the latest alarm: The globe is heating up like a griddle, and we’re just lolling here like eggs. This happened on Sunday, when a United Nations panel issued what The Times called its “starkest warning yet.” But while the report made headlines, it didn’t make the campaign. Like other big issues being shelved for some later, scarier day, climate change wasn’t high on the agenda, especially for Republicans.

 

There's a fresh spat brewing between the Parliament's top bean counter and the Conservative government, this time over Arctic patrol ships. Parliamentary budget officer Jean-Denis Frechette said there's little chance the government can afford to buy between six and eight vessels on a budget of $3.1 billion. Frechette said that's only enough money to pay for four Arctic patrol ships — and even then, there's only a 50 per cent chance the vessels get built on that budget.

 

AECL pension contributions safe, says AECL’s Quinn

03-NOV-2014 08:35 AM   Patrick Quinn, the Hill Times

A recent letter to the editor, “AECL Chalk River to be forced to walk off job,” (The Hill Times, Oct. 27, p. 8) contained inaccuracies with respect to employee pensions. I want to emphasize that contributions to the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP) will not be lost. On Nov. 3, AECL will launch a wholly-owned subsidiary named Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). AECL employees who will be reorganized into the new subsidiary will continue to participate in the PSPP until CNL becomes a private-sector-managed organization.

 

Ottawa spending $30.5M on Ebola programs to bolster Canada’s readiness

03-NOV-2014 08:32 AM   Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press

Tags Funding Health

The federal government is spending $30.5 million on programs to shore up Canada’s readiness to deal with Ebola in this country, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Monday. While most of the money will be spent in Canada, Ambrose said $3 million of that will go to the World Health Organization to help fund its efforts to fight Ebola in West Africa.

 

Airbrushing in space: Canada’s astronomical boasting

31-OCT-2014 08:27 AM   The Economist

CANADIANS are known for humility. But leave the Earth’s surface and you'll find the country’s ego somewhere up in the thermosphere. Canada’s government websites use doctored photographs of its contribution to the International Space Station to call special attention to itself. In the image above, America’s Stephen Robinson is on the third spacewalk of space shuttle mission STS-114 in 2005. The NASA photo shows the mechanical arm without the Canadian government logo. But the national branding appears in photos on the websites of its economic policies, immigration service and even the Canadian Space Agency’s official Tumblr account.

 

Quelque 175 pétroliers traverseront chaque année une zone de reproduction des bélugas pour accoster au port de Cacouna, révèlent des documents rendus publics hier par le promoteur du pipeline Énergie Est, TransCanada. Dans une conférence de presse pour marquer le dépôt du projet de 12 milliards devant l'Office national de l'énergie, hier, le président d'Oléoduc Énergie Est, François Poirier, n'a pas voulu s'avancer sur le nombre de navires qui transiteront par le port.

 

Over 800 scientists worldwide have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling on the federal government to restore funding cut from its science programs and to remove barriers to the ability of Canadian government scientists to collaborate internationally. The letter and list of signatories was released on October 21 by the Cambridge, MA-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which has fought similar cuts and restrictions against U.S. government science, and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), which represents over 15,000 scientists employed in 40 federal departments and agencies.

 

Launch of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

30-OCT-2014 09:05 AM   AECL, News Release

On November 3, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), will proudly launch a wholly-owned subsidiary named Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). This is a major milestone in the restructuring of AECL that will ultimately revitalize Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization.

 

Canadian companies lag global peers in innovation

28-OCT-2014 09:01 AM   Tavia Grant, The Globe and Mail

A new list of the most innovative companies in the world is notable for what does not appear: a single Canadian firm. A global ranking, to be published by the Boston Consulting Group Tuesday, shows Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. at the top of its measure of the 50 most innovative companies. American firms dominate the ranking (though their presence is diminishing), with companies in China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and the Netherlands also in the top 50.

 

From the BrainSTEM : Federal science demands democratic reform

28-OCT-2014 08:59 AM   Alexandra Konkina, The McGill Tribune

I’d like to think we live in a country where democracy is valued—a place where all groups are represented equally. Why then, is the Canadian government continuing to overhaul scientific communication policies while cutting the funding for important research programs? Recently, more than 800 scientists from 32 different countries signed an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper highlighting what they called a rapid decline in both the freedom and the funding allowed to federal scientists.

 

In February 2012, the scientific journal Nature published an editorial opinion piece, Frozen Out, calling on the Canadian government to reform policies that restrict media access to federal scientists. This followed numerous stories documenting delays and confusion in how different federal departments respond to requests for media interviews on scientific matters. How has the Harper government reacted? A new report, Can Scientists Speak, finds that federal media policies remain far more restrictive than those in the United States, and gives low to failing grades to nearly all 16 departments that employ scientists.

 

A former luxury fishing lodge on a remote island off B.C.’s Central Coast has been transformed into a cutting-edge research centre, producing some of the province’s most innovative science.

 

It’s time to support Canadian universities

27-OCT-2014 08:52 AM   Laurin Liu, The Hill Times

Canada’s universities are also at the centre of the cutting edge Canadian scientific research that has important spin-offs for our economy and sprouts countless partnerships with other researchers and institutions abroad. The federal government must take a leadership role in ensuring that this research is properly valued and that critical investments are made. But Conservatives have failed to fulfill their promises to support university science and research.

 

This is the path of innovation

27-OCT-2014 08:49 AM   Rivka Carmi and Martha Crago, The Globe and Mail

The economic uncertainty that continues to plague countries around the globe has contributed to an increased focus on innovation and the commercialization of research – and rightly so. Innovation drives prosperity. Unfortunately, this focus can lead to the questioning of the value of basic foundational research. That debate presents a false choice, and it’s only by understanding why, that universities’ contributions to the world will be fully realized.

 

Ottawa’s silencing of scientists should end

26-OCT-2014 08:46 AM   Editorial, The Globe and Mail

The Conservative government only undermines itself by restricting the ability of federally employed scientists to communicate freely with the public and the media. It feeds suspicion, suggesting that Canada has something to hide, for example, on such controversial matters as the oil sands – wrongly or rightly. Last week, the Union of Concerned Scientists, an American organization, and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada sent Prime Minister Stephen Harper an open letter strongly recommending that Canada no longer insist that government scientists get the permission of a media relations officer before they speak to journalists. Fifteen thousand or so researchers are said to be affected by such rules. There were 800 signatories – Canadian government researchers themselves did not sign it.

 

The peer review system was designed to ensure that before research is published, it’s of good quality, whether everyone agrees with its conclusions or not. Under the system, a researcher who makes a discovery sends it to a science journal to publish. The journal sends it to a group of experts in the field to check it out to see whether the work is well done. If the peers approve, it is published — often with changes requested by these experts. But peer review is under assault, from both the outside and the inside.

 

The Conservatives plan to create a new public health czar to focus solely on advising the government on public health issues.The move is part of the sweeping changes introduced in the Conservatives’ latest budget implementation bill, which was tabled in Parliament Thursday… But Daviau wasn’t as optimistic about the Conservatives’ plans for a Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, which she said was an inadequate attempt to replace Canada’s northernmost research lab, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) in Eureka, Nunavut.

 

Les chercheurs dénoncent les coupes du fédéral qui nuisent à leurs travaux, mais aussi les « politiques de censure » et le « bâillonnement » du gouvernement dont ils se disent victimes. « Il y a 25 % de nos chercheurs qui se sont fait dire par l'employeur de changer leurs mandats de recherche ou leurs rapports pour satisfaire le gouvernement conservateur. C'est inacceptable. Ils nous bâillonnent », déplore le directeur de l'Institut professionnel de la fonction publique pour le Québec, Yvon Brodeur.

 

Another Group Shames Harper

22-OCT-2014 08:34 AM   Politics and its Discontents

An organization known for its efforts to improve scientific integrity within the U.S. government is taking aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over policies and funding cuts that it says are detrimental to Canadian public science. In an open letter released Tuesday, the Union of Concerned Scientists urged Mr. Harper to lift a communications protocol that prevents federal researchers from speaking with journalists without approval from Ottawa. The letter also refers to barriers that it says inhibit collaboration with colleagues in the broader scientific community.

 

In an open letter published Monday more than 800 scientists are asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end “burdensome restriction on scientific communication and collaboration faced by Canadian government scientists.” The Harper government has recently attracted international attention after a report published by a leading research union identified Canadian scientists as particularly hard hit by budget cuts and communications protocols that prevent their freedom of expression. More than 800 scientists from over 32 countries signed Monday’s letter, drafted by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

 

Des scientifiques de 32 pays critiquent Harper (French)

22-OCT-2014 08:26 AM   Pauline Gravel, Le Devoir

Plus de 800 scientifiques de 32 pays ont adressé une lettre au premier ministre Stephen Haper l'exhortant à rétablir le financement et la liberté d'expression des scientifiques oeuvrant au sein du gouvernement canadien.

 

Hundreds of scientists around the world are asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end "burdensome restrictions on scientific communication and collaboration faced by Canadian government scientists." The call was made in an open letter drafted by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Union of Concerned Scientists, a group that represents U.S. scientists and uses science to advocate for environmental sustainability. The letter was signed by more than 800 scientists outside Canada from 32 countries, at institutions ranging from Harvard Medical School in the U.S. to the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

 

An organization known for its efforts to improve scientific integrity within the U.S. government is taking aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over policies and funding cuts that it says are detrimental to Canadian public science. In an open letter released Tuesday, the Union of Concerned Scientists urged Mr. Harper to lift a communications protocol that prevents federal researchers from speaking with journalists without approval from Ottawa. The letter also refers to barriers that it says inhibit collaboration with colleagues in the broader scientific community.

 

Over 800 scientists worldwide have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling on the federal government to restore funding cut from its science programs and to remove barriers to the ability of Canadian government scientists to collaborate internationally.

 

More than 800 scientists from around the world have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper decrying what they call a rapid decline in funding and freedoms faced by Canadian government scientists. "Earth to Canada: Science Needs You," says the headline over the letter that was published Tuesday as an ad in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.

 

Hundreds of scientists around the world are asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end "burdensome restrictions on scientific communication and collaboration faced by Canadian government scientists." The call was made in an open letter drafted by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Union of Concerned Scientists, a group that represents U.S. scientists and uses science to advocate for environmental sustainability.

 

Dans une lettre ouverte adressée au premier ministre Stephen Harper, plus de 800 scientifiques de partout à travers le monde critiquent ce qu'ils qualifient du déclin rapide du financement et de la liberté des scientifiques du gouvernement du Canada. Les 815 signataires provenant de 32 pays déplorent que le travail des scientifiques canadiens soit entravé par les compressions dans leurs budgets et par des contraintes sur leur liberté de voyager, de communiquer et de collaborer avec leurs collègues des autres pays.

 

Plus de 800 scientifiques de 32 pays ont adressé une lettre au premier ministre Stephen Haper l'exhortant à rétablir le financement et la liberté d'expression des scientifiques oeuvrant au sein du gouvernement canadien.

 

On Monday a group of international scientists published an open letter to Stephen Harper to remove financial and professional restrictions on Canadian scientists, saying the restrictions are limiting scientists work internationally. We speak to Michael Halpern who helped draft the letter.

 

The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to tackle climate change with the same urgency and sense of duty as it did Canada’s contribution to the U.S.-led coalition striking the Islamic State.

 

A new study finds climate change has caused a 60-fold increase in the likelihood of extreme temperatures in eastern China since the early 1950s.

 

Counterproductive gag on scientists hurts Canada's reputation

08-OCT-2014 09:27 AM   News Release, Agricultural Institute of Canada

The Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC) is concerned about what a report produced by Simon Fraser University and Evidence for Democracy has revealed.

 

Blurred lines: Harper and the f-word

12-OCT-2014 09:14 AM   Dr. Dawg, Dawg’s Blawg

I first realized how insidious a process fascism could be—and I mean the word literally: more, much more, in a moment—when I discovered the propensity of “conservatives” to defend/rehabilitate the far-right Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who managed to shock even Heinrich Himmler with his bloodthirstiness

 

Let scientists share their research knowledge

12-OCT-2014 09:12 AM   Sarah Otto, Commentary, Toronto Star

I am a scientist. Today, I am compelled to write on behalf of my fellow Canadian scientists who cannot speak. The word science comes from the Latin word “scientia” for knowledge.

 

Harper’s War on Science – Bruce Hyer MP

09-OCT-2014 09:05 AM   Bruce Hyer MP, Net News Ledger

In 2006, Stephen Harper said, “You won’t recognize Canada when I am through with it.” It was one time that Harper was open and honest. Many of the attributes that drew me to immigrate to Canada in 1976 have been eroded or severely damaged by the Harper government since 2006. One area that particularly worries me is the attack on science and what some have called the “Death of Evidence”.

 

Take the muzzle off federal scientists: Editorial

09-OCT-2014 09:03 AM   Opinion/Editorial, Toronto Star

It’s now well-established that reporters in this country face daunting obstacles when seeking information from government scientists. Too often, the process is like something out of Kafka. Journalists’ questions are either rerouted to communications staffers who provide inexpert, politically massaged responses, or the queries disappear in a bureaucratic maze, only to emerge well past deadline.

 

Open Government 2.0: Learning from the past

10-OCT-2014 09:55 AM   Mary Francoli, Canadian Government Executive

For those interested in open government, October could shape up to be an exciting month. The government of Canada is set to release the second version of its open government action plan.

 

Climate damages litigation could cost Canadian oil & gas companies billions: study

09-OCT-2014 12:32 PM   Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Canadian oil and gas companies could be liable for billions of dollars of damages for their contribution to climate change, according a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and West Coast Environmental Law (West Coast) that analyzes scenarios in which the legal landscape concerning climate damages litigation could suddenly and dramatically change.

 

The good news about science in Canada

15-OCT-2014 12:33 PM   Gilles Patry, Ottawa Citizen

There’s no shortage of rankings and reports that try to measure how well Canadian research is faring: many are positive, but we often hear more about those with a negative slant. And while there is some truth to these evaluations, when we talk about research in Canada, we must look beyond the negative narratives that so often make the headlines. Otherwise, we risk losing sight of all the ground we’ve gained. If we allow that to happen, we put at stake public support for the kind of research funding that will continue to propel Canadian science and technology even further forward.

 

Flip Side: Are federal scientists being muzzled by bad government PR

09-OCT-2014 08:37 AM   Lauren Strapagiel, Elissa Freeman, ocanada.com

We’ve all heard reports about the so-called muzzling of government scientists, but what actually happens when a journalist calls a government department for information?

 

When Henry Kissinger wrote recently that the power structures in the world are changing quickly and that the Western concept of order prevalent since the end of the Second World War now stands at a turning point, he threw the gauntlet down to nations like Canada.

 

Muzzling of federal scientists worse than ever

08-OCT-2014 08:20 AM   Press Release

A new report released today by Evidence for Democracy lays bare the widespread muzzling of public scientists working within federal departments and agencies.

 

Myth or fact: Is the Harper government really muzzling scientists?

08-OCT-2014 03:25 PM   Andy Radia, Canada Politics, Yahoo Canada

There’s been a lot chatter over the past several years about the Harper government being secretive and antagonistic with the media.

 

The release of a new report grading federal science-based departments' communication policies for openness of communication, protection against political interference, the right to free speech and protection for whistleblowers is being welcomed by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) as critical new evidence that the Harper government needs to wake up and stop its assaults on public science.

 

Want to talk to a Scientist in Canada? Don’t look to the Federal Government

08-OCT-2014 03:13 PM   Michael Halpern, Union of Concerned Scientists

If you want to talk to a scientist in Canada who works for the government, you might be in for a long wait.

 

The Royal Society of Canada has published the first in a series of position papers intended to serve as constructive additions to policy conversations about research and scholarship in Canada.

 

Let scientists share their research knowledge

12-OCT-2014 03:08 PM   Sarah Otto, Toronto Star

I am a scientist. Today, I am compelled to write on behalf of my fellow Canadian scientists who cannot speak.

 

Un pétrolier non conforme stoppé sur le Saint-Laurent

15-OCT-2014 03:03 PM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Le deuxième pétrolier à remonter le Saint-Laurent pour venir charger du pétrole des sables bitumineux à Sorel-Tracy a dû stopper sa route aux Escoumins, après avoir été jugé non conforme à la réglementation canadienne.

 

The United States wants to broker a global agreement on climate change that would contain some legal elements but would stop short of being legally binding on an international level, the country's top diplomat on climate change issues said.

 

La nanotechnologie explorée pour mieux récupérer le pétrole albertain

16-OCT-2014 02:49 PM   Bill Graveland, La Presse

Tags Innovation

Une nanotechnologie similaire à celle utilisée pour tuer les tumeurs chez les patients cancéreux pourrait être adaptée afin d'améliorer la récupération du pétrole des sables bitumineux albertains, affirme un chercheur étranger.

 

Les maires du monde entier invités à la conférence sur le climat de Paris

16-OCT-2014 02:46 PM   Agence France-Presse, La Presse

 

New Ebola guidelines: Testing in Ontario labs for quicker results

17-OCT-2014 02:42 PM   Drake Fenton, Ottawa Citizen

When Ottawa went through an Ebola scare earlier this week samples from the suspected cases had to be sent to a national laboratory in Winnipeg for examination before the all-clear was given.

 

Ebola: WHO admits it botched response to outbreak

17-OCT-2014 02:39 PM   Associated Press, The Canadian Press and Reuters,

Texas health care workers who were exposed to the deadly Ebola virus are being asked to sign legally binding documents agreeing not to go to public places or use public transportation.

 

Climat : le Canada et le Québec déçoivent (French)

06-OCT-2014 11:59 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Au moment où il entame une visite au Canada, Nicolas Hulot, ambassadeur des questions climatiques du président français François Hollande, critique sévèrement les partisans des énergies fossiles, qui ne font selon lui qu’aggraver des bouleversements climatiques déjà bien réels.

 

Les États ne respectent pas leurs engagements (French)

07-OCT-2014 11:55 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Malgré les engagements internationaux en faveur de la protection de la biodiversité mondiale, la surpêche demeure la norme, la déforestation se poursuit, les milieux humides continuent de disparaître, l’extinction menace de plus en plus d’espèces animales et certaines formes de pollution sont en hausse.

 

Les métiers de la forêt attirent encore (French)

03-OCT-2014 11:52 AM   L ouis Potvin, Le Quotidien, La Presse

Tags Forestry

Il y a encore des adolescents qui sont intéressés par les métiers de la forêt. Ils sont plus de 400 à participer à l'activité « Viens vivre la forêt » organisée par l'Association forestière du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

 

Au lendemain de la détection d’un premier cas d’Ebola aux États-Unis, la ministre de la Santé, Rona Ambrose, soutient que les risques d’infection pour les Canadiens demeurent « très bas » et que le Canada est fin prêt à déceler des cas suspects qui se présenteraient aux divers postes frontaliers ou dans les hôpitaux.

 

Les morses, prochaines victimes des changements climatiques? (French)

02-OCT-2014 11:40 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Pas moins de 35 000 morses ont été forcés de venir s’échouer sur une plage du nord-ouest de l’Alaska, en raison de l’absence de glace. Un phénomène directement lié aux bouleversements climatiques qui frappe l’Arctique.

 

The future of Canada’s polar research uncertain as season of exploration ends

05-OCT-2014 11:37 AM   Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail

Tags Arctic

Built in 1979 (when it was called the Franklin) the Amundsen was retooled and rechristened for Arctic research starting in 2003 with funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Since then, scientific activities on the ship have been co-ordinated through ArcticNet, a multi-institution research consortium that is headquartered at Laval University.

 

Canada contributing to telescope involved in search for extraterrestrials

04-OCT-2014 11:35 AM   Peter Rakobowchuk, National Post

Canada is contributing to a new space telescope that one scientist says may help in the search for signs of extraterrestrial life. The Canadian Space Agency is providing a number of devices for the $8-billion James Webb Space Telescope, which is expected to launch in 2018. The contributions include two cameras and one of the four science instruments on board the telescope. A keynote speaker at a public science symposium in Montreal this Monday and Tuesday is hoping the telescope and others in the future will help lead to finding signs of life beyond Earth.

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is offering no explanation for a mysterious memo sent from a senior bureaucrat to the environment minister that incorrectly summarized scientific evidence from a secret report. The memo, released through a court challenge, contradicted the warnings from an Environment Canada scientist about “imminent” danger from a major residential real estate project near Montreal that is threatening the survival of a critical population of western chorus frogs, protected under federal endangered species legislation.

 

Space isn’t the place for international politics

03-OCT-2014 11:30 AM   Bob MacDonald, CBC News

The Canadian government has refused visas to the heads of the Russian and Chinese space agencies to attend an international space conference being held in Toronto this week. It directly contravenes the multinational partnerships that have been a hallmark of the space program.

 

Questions remain over why a made-in-Canada experimental Ebola vaccine is still sitting in a Winnipeg laboratory instead of being dispensed in West Africa, with a scientific journal suggesting that an intellectual property dispute may be to blame. It's been more than six weeks since the Canadian government promised to donate the vaccine to the international community to help fight the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

 

Confronting Canada’s war on science

02-OCT-2014 11:23 AM   Jasmine Van Schouwen, The Fulcrum

In recent years, the federal government has prevented Environment Canada scientist David Tarasick from speaking about his research on the ozone layer, and prevented Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist Kristi Miller from speaking about her research on declining salmon stocks in the country…A 2013 survey by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada found that 48 per cent of government scientists have seen information withheld, causing the public to be misinformed; 86 per cent said they could not report actions that might harm the public without fear of censure; and 50 per cent said that public health or safety has been compromised by political interference in science.

 

I caught up with Bill Nye before his keynote to chat about Canada, the tar sands, and the Harper government’s muzzling of scientists. While the topic was a bit of a downer, Nye was incredibly positive about Canada’s space program—gushing over the space station, which is pictured on our five-dollar bill.

 

Scientists rail against imposed ignorance: Goar

02-OCT-2014 11:18 AM   Carol Goar, The Toronto Star

A year ago, a handful of Toronto scientists decided they could no longer watch helplessly as the government of Canada systematically stifled information on everything from climate change to drug safety. They formed a collective called Scientists for the Right to Know. This week, they held a public forum at the Munk School of Global Affairs. It was called Imposed Ignorance, a panel discussion highlighting what Canadians are losing and why it matters.

 

Canadian universities are falling behind, rankings say

01-OCT-2014 11:16 AM   Tara Deschamps, The Toronto Star

Tags Innovation

Canadian universities are falling behind their international counterparts, says a new report on university rankings.While the University of Toronto retained its 20th place spot on the list of top 200 schools compiled this year by university ratings company Times Higher Education, all other Canadian universities fell. Though many dropped by only a few places, some like the University of Alberta were knocked down 15 spots.

 

Emissions wafting out of oil and gas operations can trigger “extreme” ozone pollution events that rival those seen in congested cities like Los Angeles, according to an international study. Extraordinary levels of ozone, which can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory problems, have been seen in rural areas of Utah and Wyoming where oil extraction and fracking have taken off.

 

Queen’s researcher receives $10-million award

01-OCT-2014 11:10 AM   Michael Lea, Kingston Whig-Standard

Gilles Gerbier, newly arrived from France to take up a research position at Queen's University, had the small pin attached to his jacket by Minister of State for Science and Technology Ed Holder during a ceremony on campus Friday morning to represent his acceptance of a seven-year, $10-million award as the newest Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC).

 

La planète est malade, et sa guérison semble de plus en plus incertaine. La pression exercée par l'humanité sur les écosystèmes est telle qu'il nous faut chaque année l'équivalent d'une Terre et demie pour satisfaire nos besoins en ressources naturelles, tandis que le déclin de la biodiversité est sans précédent.

 

D’ici 2050, le soleil pourrait être une ressource plus importante que les énergies fossiles, le nucléaire et l’hydroélectricité

 

Même si les prix des ressources minières ont connu une baisse marquée depuis la première mouture du Plan Nord libéral, le premier ministre Philippe Couillard espère toujours en faire un pilier important du développement économique de la province.

 

Tabac aromatisé: Santé Canada s'attaque aux failles de la loi (French)

29-SEP-2014 10:19 AM   La Presse Canadienne, La Presse

Tags Health

Le gouvernement fédéral souhaite déjouer les tentatives du secteur du tabac pour attirer les jeunes avec des cigarettes aromatisées.

 

French scientists begin three-week protest march

29-SEP-2014 10:13 AM   Barbara Casassus, Nature News

Travelling by foot, bicycle or kayak, more than 3,000 scientists, support staff and members of the public from across France set off on Friday on a three-week march in defence of scientific research and higher education. The organizers say it is the biggest protest of its kind for 10 years.

 

A researcher monitoring belugas in the St. Lawrence estuary is warning of a looming "catastrophe" after another difficult calving season for the endangered whale. The belugas have been in a slow population decline for the past decade, according to Robert Michaud, the scientific director of Quebec's Marine Mammals Research and Education Group.

 

Projet de port pétrolier à Cacouna: un danger pour les bélugas (French)

28-SEP-2014 09:55 AM   Véronik de la Chenelière, Baleines en direct

Le chercheur Pierre Béland et l'humoriste océanographe Boucar Diouf étaient à Tout le monde en parle le 28 septembre pour discuter des enjeux soulevés par le projet de port pétrolier à Cacouna par TransCanada. Un jugement de la Cour supérieure ordonnait le 23 septembre la suspension des travaux de forage jusqu'au 15 octobre.

 

When Arctic sea ice makes the news, the focus is inevitably on quantity. The amount of ice on the ocean in summer is shrinking by 14 per cent a decade, a well-documented effect of climate change. The prospect of a largely ice-free Arctic by mid-century, the impact that will have on the northern environment and its potential effects on weather patterns in much of North America and Eurasia, have raised the profile of sea ice to iconic status in the continuing debate over how the human causes of climate change should be addressed. But for those who study sea ice, what matters most day-to-day is quality rather than quantity.

 

Health Canada is not protecting health of Canadians

27-SEP-2014 03:25 PM   Amir Attaran, The Toronto Star

Health Canada is not looking out for you. This month in the House of Commons, Health Minister Rona Ambrose admitted that her department let potentially dangerous medicines be sold to Canadians. Those drugs were made by a Canadian company, Apotex, which according to the Toronto Star, “altered and in some cases destroyed test data that showed their products were tainted or potentially unsafe.”

 

Harper ramps up his war on independent thought

27-SEP-2014 09:41 AM   Linda McQuaig, Canadian Dimension

In the conservative quest to shape public debate in recent years, no tool has proved more useful than the think tank. Nobody understood this better than the director of the ultra-right wing U.S.-based ATLAS Foundation, who once stated that his mission was “to litter the world with free-market think tanks.”

 

A stunning Quebec Superior Court injunction that temporarily halted exploratory work on a major cross-Canada oilsands pipeline project is raising fresh questions about whether the Canadian government muzzled a top scientist while reviewing the industry proposal. At least two federal departments, Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, gave a green light for the exploratory work, including major drilling and seismic testing in the port of Cacouna, Quebec, in the heart of the critical habitat of threatened St. Lawrence beluga whales.

 

En étudiant l’origine de l’eau présente dans le Système solaire, des chercheurs viennent de conclure qu’elle se serait formée pour une large part avant la naissance du Soleil et de la Terre.

 

Recent reports of drugs in our drinking water might have some people heading for the bottled water aisle of their nearest grocery store, but in most parts of Canada, choosing bottled water over tap is a matter of taste or convenience, not health.

 

Les travaux de forage vont se poursuivre, annonce Philippe Couillard (French)

24-SEP-2014 08:45 AM   Martin Ouellette, La Presse Canadienne, Le Devoir

Les forages de l’entreprise TransCanada au large de Cacouna sur le fleuve Saint-Laurent sont nécessaires et se poursuivront, a tranché le premier ministre Philippe Couillard, mercredi.

 

Le plus difficile reste à faire (French)

24-SEP-2014 08:43 AM   Agence France-Presse, Le Devoir

Après les déclarations d’intention du sommet de New York, les États vont devoir passer à la vitesse supérieure en vue de la conférence de Paris sur le climat, alors que les émissions de gaz à effet de serre ne cessent de croître.

 

Relations Canada-États-Unis: un poison nommé Keystone (French)

29-SEP-2014 08:40 AM   Joël-Denis Bellavance, La Presse

Le président des États-Unis, Barack Obama, n'a pas jugé opportun de téléphoner au premier ministre Stephen Harper plus tôt cette semaine afin de solliciter une contribution militaire plus importante du Canada dans la lutte contre le groupe armé État islamique (EI) en Ira

 

'We See Thee Rise: The Canadian Space Program Today and Tomorrow,' is a two-hour, live presentation of Planetary Radio, the Planetary Society's online podcast series. Host Mat Kaplan will be broadcasting in front of a live audience of space and science enthusiasts, as well as devoted fans of his guest of honour - scientist, comedian, teacher, author, and Planetary Society CEO, Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

 

What the Franklin expedition says about Canadian research priorities

24-SEP-2014 08:31 AM   Pascal Lapointe and Karine Morin, Science Borealis

The discovery of one of the long-lost Franklin ships is surely big news, archaeologically speaking. But it is also highly political. Not simply because Franklin is used as a symbol of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic, but also in the context of what has happened in recent years regarding federal science.

 

Ebola vaccine for West Africa still in Canada

24-SEP-2014 08:27 AM   CBC News

Tags Health

Canada's experimental Ebola vaccine has yet to be shipped to West Africa, says Dr. Gregory Taylor, the country's new chief public health officer. Canada announced an offer of 800 to 1,000 doses of an Ebola vaccine developed at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg six weeks ago. But there are still questions about how and where to send it, Taylor said in an interview with CBC News.

 

Climate Change: The Great Educational Challenge

23-SEP-2014 08:25 AM   Ruth Gamberg, Behind the Numbers, CCPA

The People’s Climate March showed an incredible level of solidarity across our planet and was a visible way to capture the news cycle and send a message to world leaders to act. But, climate change itself is not news. A new school year is an opportunity to ask: how is our education system preparing students to deal with climate change?

 

North-South Institute latest casualty of Ottawa’s war on evidence

23-SEP-2014 08:18 AM   John McLevey & Liam Swiss, Toronto Star

The North-South Institute announced earlier this month that it is closing following funding cuts by the federal government. This news couldn’t come at a worse time. As a non-partisan research organization, the North-South Institute’s contribution to international development issues through a specifically Canadian lens was immeasurable.

 

Whatever goes into us, also comes out of us, through our own biological effluent, every time we flush the toilet. The excreted drugs pass right through most sewage treatment processes and end up in rivers and lakes, and then in our drinking water. A Canadian study quietly released last month reported record-breaking levels of three pharmaceuticals in river water in southwestern Ontario.

 

Comprendre le réchauffement climatique en 4 minutes (French)

25-SEP-2014 10:19 AM   Marianne Boyer, Elisa Bellanger

Vidéo expliquant le réchauffement climatique en 4 minutes.

 

Researchers from the University of Victoria and Parks Canada hope they have found the earliest evidence of human habitation in Canada. Unfortunately, it lies beneath hundreds of metres of water in the ocean around the Haida Gwaii islands, off the northern coast of British Columbia.

 

De grandes marches contre la surdité des États (French)

22-SEP-2014 10:18 AM   Lisa Marie-Gervais avec l’Agence France-Presse

Ils ont été des milliers dans plusieurs villes de partout dans le monde à prendre la rue dimanche pour dénoncer l’inaction des gouvernements dans le dossier des changements climatiques.

 

Le premier ministre Stephen Harper a défendu lundi sa décision de ne pas participer au sommet international sur les changements climatiques de New York, et ce, même s’il sera en ville au moment de la rencontre onusienne.

 

73 pays et 1000 entreprises veulent faire payer le C02 (French)

22-SEP-2014 10:12 AM   Agence FrancePresse, La Presse

Plus de 1000 entreprises et 73 pays sont favorables à un système permettant de faire payer la pollution au CO2 via une taxe carbone ou un système de quotas échangeables, indique la Banque mondiale (BM) lundi.

 

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq says Canada is working toward an agreement that would include commitments by all major emitters ahead of the next climate change conference in Paris in 2015. Canada has yet to bring in regulations for the oil and gas sectors, despite a promise to do so by the end of 2012.

 

Canadian Hayley Todesco wins Google Science Fair prize

23-SEP-2014 09:18 AM   The Canadian Press

A Calgary teen has won a $25,000 scholarship from Google for her science project about speeding up the detoxification of oilsands tailings ponds. Google Science Fair award winner Hayley Todesco, 18, has just finished Grade 12 at Queen Elizabeth Junior/Senior High School in Calgary. Hayley Todesco's project beat all the other submissions from 17- and 18-year-old students around the world at the Google Science Fair.

 

The Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa will remain closed for the rest of the year as it deals with the discovery of mould in the building's south wall. The museum was forced to close earlier this month after maintenance workers discovered a leak in the roof that had spread to the building's south wall. Subsequent tests revealed high levels of airborne mould. The museum said in a statement an initial assessment showed that the work will take at least several weeks to perform and that it won't reopen before January 2015.

 

Smog politics : Canada and transborder air pollution

22-SEP-2014 09:11 AM   Devon Black, iPolitics

In 1991, Canada and the United States signed the Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement, colloquially known as the Acid Rain Treaty. That agreement, negotiated by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and President George H. W. Bush, committed both countries to reductions in pollutant emissions. Between the Acid Rain Treaty and domestic initiatives to reduce air pollution, rates of sulphur dioxide, one of the main chemicals contributing to acid rain, declined in Canada by 63 per cent between 1980 and 2001. Last year, Canada won the dubious distinction of being the country that did the most damage to international climate talks for the fifth year running.

 

2014 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Sixth Lowest on Record

22-SEP-2014 09:08 AM   Press Release, NASA

Tags Climate Arctic

Arctic sea ice coverage continued its below-average trend this year as the ice declined to its annual minimum on Sept. 17, according to the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado, Boulder.Over the 2014 summer, Arctic sea ice melted back from its maximum extent reached in March to a coverage area of 1.94 million square miles (5.02 million square kilometers), according to analysis from NASA and NSIDC scientists. This year’s minimum extent is similar to last year’s and below the 1981-2010 average of 2.40 million square miles (6.22 million square km).

 

Advocates pushing for the government to adopt mandatory labelling regulation of genetically-modified foods may have received a boost, ironically, thanks to a recent Health Canada study. On June 10, Health Canada released a report, “Consulting Canadians to Modernize and Improve Food Labels: What We Heard,” detailing what Health Canada has learned about Canadians’ priorities on modernizing and improving food labelling. Within the grander nutrition and clarity concerns, a desire to better detail how and where food was made also emerged, including “labelling genetically-engineered or genetically-modified ingredients in food products and declaring the presence or use of pesticides, agricultural chemicals, antibiotics or growth hormones.”

 

At a time when investment in clean energy technologies is growing worldwide, Canada is “looking the other way” and risks missing out on trade and growth opportunities, according to a new report from an advocacy group for green energy. The study from Clean Energy Canada was released Monday to coincide with the United Nation Climate Summit in New York City. It says Canada spent $6.5 billion on the renewable energy transition last year. That is minuscule compared to the $207 billion spent worldwide, including $55 billion in China alone.

 

How Winnipeg lab became an Ebola research powerhouse

21-SEP-2014 08:45 AM   Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press

ZMapp is the most promising of the current experimental treatments. There's also an Ebola vaccine that may be useful both to prevent infection and stop it in its tracks, if given shortly after exposure. And a mobile diagnostic lab that has changed the way outbreak testing is done. These are enormous contributions to the scientific efforts to prevent or contain Ebola. And the fact that they come from Winnipeg seems to come down to a few good men. If you ask why Winnipeg is such a player in Ebola research, the instant answer comes in the form of two names — Heinz Feldmann, the lab's first special pathogens chief and Gary Kobinger, his successor and the current branch chief.

 

A labour union representing federal scientists, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, would also estimate that the Canadian government was in the middle of a three-year purge, cutting nearly $3 billion in spending and up to 5,000 jobs from its science-based departments, including many scientific research positions and programs in charge of monitoring air, water, and wildlife.

 

Enthusiasm for fundamental democratic principles at home is under increasing threat, from social activism to scientific research. Perhaps the longest and most complete muzzling of freedom of expression has befallen federal government scientists, particularly those working in the areas of the environment and natural resources, in other words, the tar sands.

 

Abolition des agences de la santé: les comités d'usagers inquiets (French)

17-SEP-2014 08:43 AM   Ariane Lacoursière, La Presse

Alors que Québec envisage d'abolir les 18 agences de la santé du Québec, un rapport recommande plutôt de conserver uniquement 10 «régions de services» et d'éliminer les conseils d'administration des hôpitaux.

 

Canada needs a stronger stand on climate change

19-SEP-2014 08:41 AM   Aerin L. Jacob, Times Colonist

Canada is running a sustainability deficit. But our politicians aren’t taking this seriously — they seem to believe that balancing a green and sustainable economy is less important than balancing its budgets. As British Columbian researchers who study sustainability and impacts of climate change, we believe Canada needs strong federal climate change policies and actions.

 

AECL to GoCo: Do it right

17-SEP-2014 08:38 AM   Debi Daviau, North Renfrew Times

The government wants to offload the running of AECL’s Nuclear Laboratories, which employ over 3,400 highly skilled employees across Canada (a majority of them at Chalk River), under a different privatization model described as government-owned, contractor-operated (GoCo) management. So far, there’s little evidence the government has learned much if anything from past experience.

 

When it comes to science, Canadians care more than ever

17-SEP-2014 08:35 AM   Gilles Patry, University Affairs

It was reassuring to hear the essential message of a report released last week by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) that aimed to assess the state of Canada’s science culture: that Canadians know and care more about science than ever, and they know and care more than the citizens of many other developed countries.

 

Trop de gens se rabattent sur l'urgence par dépit (French)

17-SEP-2014 03:39 PM   Ariane Lacoursière, La Presse

Tags Health

Plus de 60 % des personnes qui se présentent dans les urgences des hôpitaux du Québec ne sont pas des cas complexes et auraient pu être traités ailleurs. «L'accès aux services de première ligne est encore trop difficile au Québec», estime le Commissaire à la santé et au bien-être, Robert Salois, qui a présenté ce matin un bilan de la situation des urgences du Québec depuis dix ans.

 

Santé mentale florissante pour 77 % des Canadiens (French)

17-SEP-2014 03:42 PM   La Presse Canadienne, Yahoo.ca

Tags Health

OTTAWA - Les trois quarts des Canadiens âgés de 15 ans et plus en 2012 avaient généralement un sentiment positif au sujet de leur vie et fonctionnaient bien au quotidien — ce que Statistique Canada appelle une «santé mentale florissante».

 

En 2013, 22 millions de personnes ont été déplacées en raison de catastrophes liées aux aléas naturels, soit près de trois fois plus que les personnes contraintes de fuir un conflit, révèle le dernier rapport de l’Observatoire des situations de déplacement interne (IDMC) du Conseil norvégien pour les réfugiés (NRC), publié mardi 17 septembre.

 

Une étude pour rendre le réseau de la santé plus efficace (French)

17-SEP-2014 03:37 PM   La Presse Canadienne, Le Droit

Un groupe de travail mis sur pied par l'Institut sur la gouvernance (IGOPP) propose des changements au réseau de la santé afin de le rendre plus efficace et, surtout, plus axé sur le patient.

 

The Canadian response to Ebola : a new science diplomacy ?

16-SEP-2014 09:40 AM   Pascale Lapointe & Karine Morin, Science Borealis

In early August, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (DFATD) announced that Canada would provide $3.6 million dollars to both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to help the international Ebola effort. This was not the first Canadian contribution; as early as April 18th, three ministers (International Development and La Francophonie, DFATD, and Health) had pledged nearly $1.3 million to address the Ebola outbreak.

 

The time to face up to climate change is now

16-SEP-2014 09:35 AM   Catherine Potvin, The Montreal Gazette

On Sept. 21, more than 1,000 events are planned around the world to demand stronger action on climate change, echoing New York’s People’s Climate March. As Canadian researchers who study climate change and sustainability, we strongly support this global mobilization. Canada is running a sustainability deficit. Unlike budgetary deficits, this does not seem to preoccupy our politicians. Canada has repeatedly missed its own climate change emission reduction targets. Last January, Environment Canada acknowledged that Canada won’t meet its least ambitious target to date, proposed in 2009 as part of international climate negotiations coined the Copenhagen Accord.

 

Environment Canada appears to have quietly ended key discussions that were intended to tackle carbon pollution from the oil and gas industry. A committee made up of representatives from Environment Canada, the Alberta government and oil and gas companies was created in the fall of 2011 to develop options to reduce industrial greenhouse gases from the oilsands sector, the country’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions.

 

How fighting climate change could save the planet and rebuild the economy

16-SEP-2014 09:12 AM   Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

Despite all the scary predictions of rising seas and global warming, politicians in the United States at least have been reluctant to take serious action to reduce greenhouse gases. Reasonably sensible ideas like taxing carbon emissions -- an idea with bipartisan intellectual support -- are routinely dismissed out of hand as being bad for the economy. But it doesn't have to be that way, according to a new report out in advance of next week's United Nations summit on climate change. The report argues that governments could significantly slow emissions and boost economic growth simply by making smart decisions about how they spend money they're going to spend anyway.

 

Federal cuts force child-care, welfare groups to crowdfund

15-SEP-2014 11:55 AM   Amber Hildebrandt, CBC News

How many day-care spaces exist in Canada? How much do the country’s poorest receive in welfare income? Are freshwater fish harmed by cleaning products? For decades, the federal government paid to answer these questions. Now, non-profit groups are asking the public for donations in a desperate bid to save the data from extinction. In the case of the Experimental Lakes Area, the 45-year-old government research program now under the International Institute for Sustainable Development, crowdfunding aimed to raise $25,000 to help restore it to its former glory and reduce its reliance on capricious political leaders.

 

Muzzling academics? Get schooled

15-SEP-2014 09:02 AM   Editorial, Ottawa Sun

Apparently our government is “trying to muzzle and impede sound and legitimate research” by working to “intimidate and silence” at least one Canadian organization.

 

Mount Polley tailings spill effects could last for decades

14-SEP-2014 11:52 AM   Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail

Next spring, the sockeye eggs that are now being laid in spawning beds throughout the Fraser River system will hatch and the young fish – by the hundreds of millions – will migrate into lakes to rear. And that, at least in one lake, could be a disaster. Quesnel Lake, into which 24 million cubic metres of water and mine tailings flushed when the Mount Polley tailings dam burst, is one of the biggest and most important sockeye nurseries in the province.

 

Open letter asks CRA to stop political audit

14-SEP-2014 11:48 AM   Dean Beeby, The Canadian Press

Tags Muzzling

More than 400 academics are demanding the Canada Revenue Agency halt its audit of a think-tank, saying the Conservative government is trying to intimidate, muzzle and silence its critics.

 

The Canada-European Union trade deal, considered one of the most comprehensive international agreements ever will be released later this month in Ottawa, but some critics say the rules that safeguard the environment will have no teeth. Even though the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), or the Canada-European Union trade deal, is about trade, critics and proponents alike agree it goes way beyond that.

 

Franklin expedition discovery shows change in Arctic

12-SEP-2014 11:42 AM   Bob MacDonald, CBC News

Tags Climate Arctic

The discovery this week of a shipwreck from the doomed Franklin Expedition shows how much conditions in the Arctic have changed since they set out in 1845. John Franklin and other explorers at the time were unable to make it through the Northwest Passage because of impenetrable ice. Now, cruise ships are offering luxury tours of the area.

 

The science minister seems to be in denial

10-SEP-2014 11:40 AM   Peter Jackson, The Telegram

It’s not unusual for any government to deny the unpalatable until it finally becomes too counterproductive or absurd to do so. The government of Stephen Harper, however, has taken the practice of naysaying to breathtaking heights. Take, for example, the reaction of Science and Technology Minister Ed Holder to an editorial in The Telegram on Aug. 29. (Science Inc.). Faced with the fact that his government has systematically undercut any scientific pursuit that hinders its pro-business agenda, the minister has adopted the tried and true head-in-sand tactic.

 

Nuclear power researchers and other employees at a laboratory in Eastern Ontario say they'll picket the facility today over potential changes to their pensions.

 

Federal scientist media request generates email frenzy but no interview

08-SEP-2014 11:34 AM   Dene Moore, The Canadian Press

A request from The Canadian Press to speak to federal government scientist Max Bothwell for an article about his research expertise failed to produce an interview.What it did produce was 110 pages of emails to and from 16 different federal government communications operatives, according to documents obtained using access to information legislation.

 

Des apiculteurs veulent réparation (French)

05-SEP-2014 11:30 AM   Pauline Gravel, Le Devoir

Deux gros apiculteurs ontariens viennent de déposer devant la Cour supérieure de l’Ontario un recours collectif contre les fabricants de pesticides Bayer CropScience et Syngenta, qu’ils accusent d’être responsables de l’hécatombe qui a frappé leur rucher. Dans cette poursuite, les deux plaignants, les entreprises Sun Parlour Honey et Munro Honey, réclament 450 millions en réparation pour les pertes pécuniaires qu’ils ont encourus en raison de trois insecticides de la classe des néonicotinoïdes qui auraient provoqué la mort de milliers de leurs abeilles.

 

No substitute for scientists

05-SEP-2014 11:27 AM   Editorial, Times Colonist

Recruiting volunteers to collect monthly seawater samples to be analyzed for traces of radioactivity is a splendid idea, but let’s hope Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn’t get wind of it. He might be tempted to take this “citizen scientist” concept too far.

 

The world's precious few remaining large forests are fragmenting at an alarming rate, and the degradation in Canada leads the world, a new analysis shows. The degradation of such pristine "intact" forests threatens species such as Canada's woodland caribou and Asia's tigers that rely on huge unbroken expanses of natural ecosystems in order to survive, said Nigel Sizer, global director of forest programs with the World Resources Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research institute focused on resource sustainability.

 

Scientists urge government to fund basic research

05-SEP-2014 11:22 AM   Bob MacDonald, CBC News

A survey of 12 countries, including Canada, shows that scientists are concerned about the drop in government support of basic science in favour of applied research that leads to short-term benefits. While applied science is valuable and necessary to keep up in a competitive global economy, we need basic science as well to open new possibilities for true innovation.

 

Who are Health Canada’s experts assessing human health impacts of oilsands development? And why has the federal government never done a comprehensive study of health impacts in the region after more than half a century of industrial development?

 

Rat Massages Get the Golden Goose

04-SEP-2014 11:17 AM   Molly Sharlach, The Scientist

Scientists who brushed the backs of baby rats nearly 40 years ago are among the winners of this year’s Golden Goose Awards. Their work led to the finding that massage could promote the survival and growth of premature human infants.

 

L'Ontario fait face à une réduction du financement fédéral consacré à la santé de l'ordre de 14 milliards de dollars sur les dix prochaines années. En refusant de renouveler l'Accord sur la santé avec les provinces, le fédéral tourne le dos à sa responsabilité d'offrir à tous les Ontariens des services de santé publics de qualité.

 

A number is never just a number: Lac-Mégantic crude

03-SEP-2014 11:10 AM   Trish Hennessy, Rabble

This article outlines some key numbers that give an alternative perspective on the Lac-Mégantic disaster.

 

Canadian beekeepers are suing the makers of popular crop pesticides for more than $400 million in damages, alleging that their use is causing the deaths of bee colonies.

 

Les forages que TransCanada veut faire à Cacouna ont fait couler beaucoup d'encre, mais au-delà de ces travaux, c'est tout le projet de terminal pétrolier et le trafic maritime accru qu'il générera qui «risquent d'avoir des effets négatifs» sur les bélugas. Et ce ne sont pas des militants de Greenpeace qui le disent, mais bien des scientifiques de Pêches et Océans dans un «avis» récent.

 

Put focus back on basic research, say science unions

03-SEP-2014 02:03 PM   Barbara Casassus, Nature

Geneviève Fioraso, France's minister for higher education and research, denies trade unions' claims her government wants science to have immediate economic returns.An unrelenting political push towards economic returns and short-term targets for research is endangering scientists' academic freedom in many countries around the world, the leading French researchers' union has warned…Canadian scientists, in particular, face a unique set of challenges as the government puts a squeeze not only on their funding, but also on their freedom of expression.

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has set aside $22.7 million for an advertising blitz this year to promote oil and Canada's other natural resources in the United States, Europe and Asia. But scientists and environmental groups say the advertising message is misleading its target audience about the Canadian government's failure to clean up the oil sands, Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

By the time government scientists arrived in 1970 to do some testing, the people at Grassy Narrows and neighbouring Wabeseemoong First Nations had already eaten dangerous amounts of contaminated fish. The first tests revealed extreme levels of mercury in hair and blood. There has been no epidemiological study to establish the scope of the Grassy Narrows exposure, and no long-term tracking of what are now recognized as the life-long effects of ingested mercury, although an expert review by Canadian scientists in 2010 stated "there should have been extensive examinations and followup of these communities.”

 

When science meets aboriginal oral history

31-AUG-2014 01:28 PM   Kate Allen, Toronto Star

“Scientists are sitting around and academically discussing different theories about peopling of Americas, and you have all these different views on how many migrations, and who is related to,” he says. “Then when we actually undertake the most sophisticated genetic analysis we can do today, and this is state of the art, genetically — we could have just have listened to them in the first place.”

 

Plus de 50 personnes perderont leur poste (French)

30-AUG-2014 01:14 PM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Ce sont finalement 53 personnes qui perdent leur emploi en raison des compressions imposées par le gouvernement Couillard au ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs. Un geste qui prive Québec d’une expertise scientifique en matière de gestion de la faune et qui pourrait favoriser une hausse du braconnage.

 

Québec s’en remet à TransCanada (French)

30-AUG-2014 01:19 PM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Malgré le fait qu’il ait essuyé uniquement des refus de TransCanada à ses demandes répétées d’un avis scientifique en bonne et due forme, le gouvernement du Québec a autorisé l’entreprise à mener des forages sous-marins dans le secteur maritime de Cacouna en vue de la construction d’un port pétrolier destiné à exporter du pétrole des sables bitumineux.

 

Science Inc.

29-AUG-2014 11:39 AM   The Telegram

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had another frosty message for scientists last week during his annual tour of Canada’s North. Peppered throughout the usual patriotic rhetoric were some key code words reinforcing his government’s agenda for publicly funded research. It’s simple, really. Science in the aid of industry is all that matters. Everything else is a burden or a waste of time.

 

Why science literacy matters: Bob McDonald

29-AUG-2014 11:32 AM   Bob MacDonald, CBC

The good news this week that Canadians are tops when it comes to understanding science in the media is encouraging, but there is still a long way to go when it comes to making policy decisions that involve science.

 

Les gouvernements du Canada et des États-Unis ont annoncé une nouvelle initiative visant à coordonner de façon constante leurs réglementations environnementales vis-à-vis un vaste éventail d'industries. Des agences fédérales oeuvreront de concert avec leurs homologues outre-frontière afin de produire, d'ici six mois, des déclarations publiques qui expliqueront de quelle façon elles travailleront avec l'industrie, et avec elles-mêmes, afin de simplifier la réglementation pour les entreprises établies dans les deux pays.

 

Is Canada a nation of science geeks?

28-AUG-2014 09:20 AM   Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail

From knowing what a molecule is to endorsing government support for basic research, Canadians as a whole display a clearer understanding of and a more positive attitude toward science than people in most other developed countries. A new report, released on Thursday by the Council of Canadian Academies, offers the most comprehensive portrait of the country’s science culture in a quarter century. It comes at a time when economic competition abroad and complex policy questions at home surrounding issues such as climate change increasingly require decision makers and the public to have a basic level of fluency and comfort with scientific thinking.

 

L’humanité consomme de plus en plus de viande et cette production industrielle à grande échelle draine une part importante des ressources en eau et des terres cultivables disponibles. C’est ce qui se dégage d’un nouveau rapport du groupe américain Worldwatch Institute.

 

Federal government on track to cut 35,000 public service jobs

27-AUG-2014 04:14 PM   Kathryn May, Ottawa Citizen

Tags Funding

The Conservative government, which has cut nearly 26,000 jobs in Canada’s public service over the past three years, is poised to shed another 8,900 jobs by 2017. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has been wrangling with the government since the 2012 budget for data to get a handle on the nature of cuts, but has been blocked in trying to get a fuller picture. The PBO recently found that the performance of the government’s programs, and whether they were working as expected or not, had little bearing on the government’s decisions about what to cut.

 

Harper government asks public servants to delete emails

27-AUG-2014 04:10 PM   Mike De Souza, The Toronto Star

The Conservative government is telling public servants to delete emails with no “business value,” possibly opening the door to the destruction of potentially valuable records, say critics. “Given the current government’s track record, a red flag has to go up anytime our members are instructed to delete information,” said Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. She warned that it means profit motives could be conflicting with what’s in the public interest.“In this case, it could certainly mean that a corporate bottom line decision undermines services and threatens accountability while the price to taxpayers goes up,” she told the Star.

 

Federal government launches public service employee survey.

26-AUG-2014 04:03 PM   Jason Fekete, Ottawa Citizen

Tags Funding

The federal government has started its triennial public service employee survey, looking for feedback from federal bureaucrats at a time of low morale, concerns that the public service is being politicized and worries over the impacts of spending cuts. If the 2011 survey is any indication – it had the highest response rate ever, at 72.2 per cent – federal bureaucrats have a lot to say about the state of the public service

 

Space Agency study looks at benefits of Canadian space program

26-AUG-2014 03:59 PM   Christina Spencer, Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian Space Agency, which has struggled for years with the gravitational pull of tight budgets, plans a sweeping study of the benefits of Canada’s involvement in space. The agency is seeking bids for what it calls a “comprehensive” overall assessment of the country’s space activity, and will pay up to $250,000 “to capture the economic argument for investment in space,” as well as “demonstrate the larger socio-economic impacts” of Canadians’ activities, public and private, in the sector, according to a written description of the work.

 

L'Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) a recommandé mardi d'interdire la vente des cigarettes électroniques aux mineurs et leur usage dans les lieux publics fermés, estimant que celles-ci présentaient un «grave danger» pour l'adolescent et le foetus.

 

Earlier this week University of Alberta professor Andrew Leach wrote an article for Macleans.ca titled Un-muzzle the scientists? Not so fast. Because of the intense interest in the story, we’ve assembled responses from three critics who took issue with Leach’s argument, along with a new post from Leach in which he responds to the critics.

 

Government scientists should be allowed to speak for themselves

25-AUG-2014 03:51 PM   C. Scott Findlay, The Toronto Star

Earlier this week, Postmedia reported on its investigation into the cancellation of a technical briefing by scientists from the Canadian Ice Services (CIS). Documents obtained under an Access to Information request show that the approval process for the briefing implicated nine different levels of government, from the director of CIS to the environment minister. Yet despite the herculean efforts of CIS scientists to inform Canadians on the state of Canada’s arctic ice, a briefing that was planned for months was eventually cancelled.

 

Internal documents from this summer’s Dallas meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, leaked to a watchdog group, reveal several sessions casting doubt on the scientific evidence of climate change. They also reveal sessions focused on crafting policies that reduce rules for fossil fuel companies and create obstacles for the development of alternative forms of energy. The meeting, hosted in Dallas from July 30 to Aug. 1, involved a mix of lobbyists, U.S. legislators and climate change contrarians, and was sponsored by more than 50 large corporations, including several that do business in Alberta’s oilsands.

 

As journalists, we can certainly empathize with federal scientists working for the Canadian Ice Service. It’s no fun getting scooped on a big story you’ve been working on for a long time, especially if it falls within the purview of one of your marquee beats. Alas, while journalists compete with each other to break news, Canadian scientists face a much more powerful opponent to the timely dissemination of their hard work: their own bosses.

 

La Ville de Vancouver dit qu'elle se présentera à la Cour d'appel fédérale, vendredi, pour contester le projet d'expansion du pipeline Trans Mountain de la compagnie Kinder Morgan. L'administration municipale veut une révision judiciaire pour déterminer si l'Office national de l'énergie (ONÉ) doit tenir compte du changement climatique dans l'évaluation du projet.

 

NRC boss says data well guarded

22-AUG-2014 02:22 PM   Giuseppe Valiante, 24 Hours Toronto

The head of the National Research Council (NRC) said its clients are satisfied that private research data is well guarded at the agency despite allegations of a recent Chinese cyber-attack. NRC president John McDougall, who was in the Yukon Thursday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, couldn’t give details on who exactly attacked the NRC’s computers or what, if anything, was stolen.

 

CPI wins Space Agency contract

21-AUG-2014 03:38 PM   Lisa Tallyn, Independent Free Press

A Georgetown-based company has been awarded a $3.3 million contract to develop a satellite radar component that will play a key role in the first-ever global survey of surface water. Communications and Power Industries Canada Inc. (CPI Canada) will receive the funds from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) it was announced Monday on behalf of Minister of Industry James Moore by Minister of State (Finance) Kevin Sorenson and Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong who both toured the Georgetown company. Also on the tour was CSA President Walter Natynczyk.

 

Nuclear innovation benefits Canada

21-AUG-2014 03:19 PM   Neil Alexander, The Star Phoenix

The Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation will soon be operating a new multipurpose cyclotron at the University of Saskatchewan. This cyclotron facility, one of the most advanced in the country, will be a source of medical isotopes and a centre of excellence for applying those isotopes for research into the diagnosis and treatment of conditions like heart disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and cancer.

 

Scientists with the Canada Ice Service agency wanted to give a press conference about the Arctic’s sea ice, which had shrunk 70,000 square miles below its last record in 2007. The scientists needed federal approval from nine different levels, including the director of the Ice Service and the environment minister’s office . The event never happened. As new documents obtained by Canada’s Postmedia News show, it was cancelled by "ministerial services," the sixth level of approval. No explanation was given.

 

Where’s the fight for our fishery ?

20-AUG-2014 03:03 PM   Phil Earle, The Telegram

If the government of the U.S.A. and the fishing fleets of foreign countries behaved in their fishery like they do here in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Americans would have a civil uprising; it would never be allowed to take place.

 

National Energy Board uses new power to fine pipeline operators

19-AUG-2014 02:48 PM   Mike De Souza, The Toronto Star

Canada’s national energy regulator has for the first time used its new powers to penalize pipeline operators, imposing fines worth tens of thousands of dollars to four separate companies. The National Energy Board recently posted notice of two of the fines on its website against NOVA Gas Transmission, which is a subsidiary of TransCanada, and Kinder Morgan. Both companies told the Star that they accepted and paid the fines, but believe public safety wasn’t at risk.

 

Tories put polar briefings on ice

19-AUG-2014 02:34 PM   Margaret Munro, Leader-Post

Federal scientists who keep a close eye on the Arctic ice cap would like to routinely brief Canadians about extraordinary events unfolding in the North. But newly released federal documents show the Harper government has been thwarting their efforts.

 

Data breaches rampant in Canada

19-AUG-2014 01:33 PM   David Paddon, Hamilton Spectator

More than one-third of Canada's IT professionals know — for sure — that they'd had a significant data breach over the previous 12 months that could put their clients or their organizations at risk, a cybersecurity study suggests.

 

Environnement Canada procède à une réorganisation de la collecte des données météorologiques, dans le but de répondre à la demande croissante d’information de la population. C’est ce qu’ont expliqué dimanche soir des représentants du service, lors de la Conférence scientifique publique mondiale sur la météorologie (WWOSC) à Montréal.

 

B.C. Minster of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett is expected to announce this morning the details of an investigation into the Mount Polley tailings pond failure. On Friday, B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak told the CBC News there would be an independent inquiry into the accident.

 

Transports Canada montré du doigt (French)

18-AUG-2014 01:52 PM   Bahador Zabihiyan, Le Devoir

Le Bureau de la sécurité des transports (BST) publiera mardi son rapport au sujet des causes de l’accident de Lac-Mégantic. Si la Montreal, Maine and Atlantic et certains de ses employés pourraient être montrés du doigt, certains espèrent que Transports Canada le sera aussi. Le Centre canadien de politiques alternatives estime que l’organisme fédéral a carrément fait preuve « d’aveuglement volontaire », dans un rapport dont Le Devoir a obtenu copie.

 

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is calling for an independent public inquiry into last summer's Lac-Mégantic train disaster, expressing fear a highly anticipated report into the accident by the Transportation Safety Board will not go far enough to expose government regulatory failures.

 

Refugee claimants struggling to find health care after cuts

17-AUG-2014 01:45 PM   Lee Marshall, The Globe and Mail

Two years ago, the Conservative government made cuts to refugee health care, arguing it would deter “bogus” refugees from coming to Canada and save taxpayers $100-million over five years. The cuts drew outrage from many refugee advocates, doctors, lawyers, and some provinces that found themselves footing the bill. Last month, a Federal Court ruling called the measure “cruel and unusual treatment” and found “no persuasive evidence” the cuts reduced claims and costs.

 

Labour force error not related to cuts: StatsCan

15-AUG-2014 01:44 PM   Alex Boutilier, Toronto Star

Tags Funding

Statistics Canada says ongoing budget cuts played no part in the “human error” that resulted in a significant miscalculation in their latest jobs report. The census agency, which was off by almost 42,000 jobs in its July Labour Force Survey, has been asked to find more than $33 million in annual savings as a result of Conservatives’ 2012 budget. But Sylvie Michaud, StatsCan’s director general of education, labour and income statistics, said the error was not due to a lack of funding.

 

University crowdfunding by the numbers – a first look at the data

14-AUG-2014 01:19 PM   Nick Dragojlovic, Science Menu

A growing number of universities are setting up their own crowdfunding portals as a way of increasing alumni engagement, recruiting new donors, nurturing a culture of philanthropy on campus, and boosting home-grown innovation. As I’ve argued before, crowdfunding by faculty to support their research is particularly well suited to meeting these objectives.

 

Canada scrambled for data to back North Pole claims, documents show

13-AUG-2014 10:15 AM   Alex Boutilier, Toronto Star

Tags Arctic Funding

Federal bureaucrats were left scrambling to find more data to support the Conservative government’s controversial claim to the North Pole last December, according to internal documents. The documents reveal the federal government rushed through a $7-million icebreaker upgrade earlier this year to gather more data to back the Conservatives’ claims.

 

Complaint alleges Environment Canada isn't enforcing the Fisheries Act in the oil sands. Canada appears headed for a showdown with NAFTA's environmental agency following its decision to recommend an investigation into the enforcement of the Fisheries Act in the Alberta oil sands. The Commission on Environmental Cooperation's secretariat notified Canada that it was recommending an investigation, also known as a factual record, on enforcement of the Fisheries Act in the oil sands on July 29, but the secretariat’s decision was not made public until August 7.

 

Océans : le mercure grimpe (French)

12-AUG-2014 10:34 AM   Le Monde, Le Devoir

En janvier 2013, à Genève, 130 pays ont signé une convention visant à réduire la pollution au mercure, métal toxique qui s’accumule dans la chaîne alimentaire et qui influe sur le système nerveux et le développement. L’objectif est d’en limiter considérablement les émissions. Mais l’environnement est déjà durablement contaminé, à commencer par le milieu marin. Une étude internationale (États-Unis, France, Pays-Bas), publiée le 7 août dans la revue Nature, montre que la concentration de mercure dans les eaux de surface de presque tous les océans a triplé du fait des rejets d’origine humaine.

 

Canada on mission to map Arctic, lay claim to broader boundaries

12-AUG-2014 10:32 AM   Carol J. Williams, L.A. Times

Tags Arctic

Canada has dispatched two icebreakers to map the Arctic seabed beneath the North Pole to support a bid to extend the country's maritime territory deeper into the waterways at the top of the world.

 

Salmon near B.C. mine spill to be tested

12-AUG-2014 10:29 AM   James Keller, The Canadian Press

First Nations health officials are preparing to test salmon near the site of a massive mine tailing spill in British Columbia amid fears in aboriginal communities that fish from affected lakes and rivers aren't safe to eat. Environment Canada has also started its own investigation.

 

It takes guts to blow the whistle on the boss, but it’s a lot easier to come forward if you know somebody has your back. That’s why the B.C. government should make it clear to employees of the Mt. Polley mine that they should not be afraid to come forward with information about last week’s devastating tailings-pond breach.

 

Science writers can help raise knowledge

11-AUG-2014 10:12 AM   E. Paul Zehr, Globe and Mail

Knowledge empowers us to question media coverage, government policy and claims we see and hear every day. We have to rely on effective science communication to help condense, synthesize and translate the ever-increasing body of scientific knowledge into general concepts we can integrate and apply in our daily lives.

 

The swelling of the federal government’s communications bureaucracy to more than 3,000 workers reflects a “public relations state” designed to keep pace with the news cycle and politicize government messaging, experts say. “Spending more on communication isn’t problematic in itself,” Josh Greenberg, director of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication, wrote in an email. “It becomes problematic to the extent that it increases the likelihood of blurring the lines between public information and party propaganda.”

 

Lilly first heard about the defunding and muzzling of Canada’s federal scientists when she was reading DeSmog Canada just over a year ago. In a spate of funding cuts, the federal government eliminated some of Canada’s most prestigious scientific institutions, to the dismay of scientists and Canadians across the country. And since the Harper government has been in power, strict communications protocols have prevented scientists from speaking with the public about their research, limiting public awareness of taxpayer-funded science.

 

NAFTA environmental body wants to probe oilsands

08-AUG-2014 09:37 AM   The Canadian Press, Blackburn News

Investigators from an environmental watchdog set up as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement want to investigate whether Canada is enforcing its laws on toxic leakage from giant oilsands tailings ponds.Canada has already told the Commission on Environmental Cooperation that it doesn't have that right. The disagreement sets up a second fight between the Harper government and the three-nation body intended to ensure free trade doesn't degrade environmental enforcement.

 

"Streamlining environmental regulatory review" and "reducing the regulatory burden on industry" are among the federal and B.C. provincial governments’ hottest buzzwords. As the Mount Polley mine tailings lake breach that occurred on Monday (August 4) demonstrates, however, deregulation of industrial activities that impact the environment is a gamble that can have devastating outcomes for local communities and the environment.

 

Lake Erie’s algae explosion blamed on farmers

07-AUG-2014 08:28 AM   Emily Chung, CBC News

Toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie fouled the water that hundreds of thousands of people rely on for drinking, cooking and bathing last week, forcing hundreds of thousands of people in Ohio to rely on bottled water.

 

Le premier « robot origami » voit le jour (French)

07-AUG-2014 08:26 AM   Jean-Louis Santini

Tags Innovation

S'inspirant de l'origami, l'art japonais du pliage, des chercheurs américains ont créé le premier robot auto-dépliant qui pourrait révolutionner la robotique avec de nombreuses applications, sur Terre comme dans l'espace.Ces ingénieurs ont seulement utilisé des feuilles de papier et de polystyrène, qui change de forme avec la chaleur, ainsi que des micro-circuits électroniques et des batteries.

 

Contaminated water threatens B.C. salmon

07-AUG-2014 08:10 AM   Michael Mui, 24 Hours Toronto

Officials are worried that water contaminated after a tailings pond in B.C. burst its dam could seriously impact fish stocks. A good portion of this year's sockeye run could be affected by the massive tailings pond spill at the Mount Polley mine early Monday, officials fear. At least five million cubic metres of tailings slurry from the copper and gold mine breached an earthen dam and rushed downstream towards two lakes. On Wednesday, the DFO said the sockeye — between 845,000 to 2.95 million fish — are “currently migrating ” towards the Quesnel Lake system.

 

Of all the hard sciences, physics is notorious for having the lowest percentage of female practitioners. That's why hundreds of them get together every three years to discuss how to improve the numbers. This year the International Conference of Women in Physics is at Wilfrid Laurier University, where delegates from 50 countries will discuss national policies, salaries, competition and cultural barriers — some of the reasons why many of them think there are so few females in physics.

 

Ted Hsu, the first-term Liberal MP for Ontario's Kingston and the Islands riding, says he will not run for re-election in 2015. Hsu was the party's natural resources critic and served on the Commons' natural resources committee in 2013, but was moved out of the position by Trudeau and appointed Ontario caucus chair and caucus accountability officer. Hsu was also named the party's critic for science and technology, post-secondary education and Ontario economic development, roles he had previously held.

 

Environment Canada has launched a federal investigation into a major tailings pond breach at the Mount Polley mine in British Columbia. “Environment Canada expects companies to operate in a responsible manner that protects the environment,” department spokesman Mark Johnson told the Star in a statement. “Spills are unacceptable.”

 

A network of citizen scientists along the B.C. coast is being recruited to help researchers measure the potential risk of low-level radiation arriving from Japan after the tsunami and Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen is leading a $630,000 project to test water and seafood over the next three years.

 

A local state of emergency has been declared in an area where a B.C. tailings pond wall collapsed, sending millions of cubic metres of mine waste water and metals-laden sand into local waterways. A summary of the material dumped into the tailings pond last year was filed with Environment Canada. It said there was 326 tonnes of nickel, over 400,000 kilograms of arsenic, 177,000 kilograms of lead and 18,400 tonnes of copper and its compounds placed in the pond last year.

 

Federal and provincial authorities allowed a company under investigation for a serious oilsands leak to collect some evidence of the harm caused to wildlife, according to a newly released email from Environment Canada. “The game has always been, get rid of the federal government and then downgrade the provincial, and that is exactly what has gone on here,” said Duncan. “So everything that is done, including pipeline inspection, by the way, is done by the company and the proponents.”

 

Transportation Safety Board’s Lac-Mégantic report coming out on Aug. 19

05-AUG-2014 10:59 AM   The Canadian Press, Toronto Star

Tags Regulation

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada will release its report on the deadly Lac-Mégantic train derailment later this month. The safety board says it will hold a news conference in the Quebec town on Aug. 19. A train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic on July 6, 2013, wiping out dozens of buildings and killing 47 people.

 

NDP wants MPs to probe charity audit crackdown

05-AUG-2014 10:55 AM   Mike De Souza, Toronto Star

The federal New Democrats are urging Parliament to probe whether the Canada Revenue Agency is doing politically motivated audits of charities that disagree with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s policies. “Canadian charitable organizations have long engaged in non-partisan advocacy on issues such as the environment, human rights and poverty. This sort of advocacy is an important part of our democracy and any effort to silence it should be taken very seriously.”

 

The breach of a tailings pond at the Mount Polley copper and gold mine in B.C. has released five million cubic metres of mining wastewater into local waterways in early August. Local residents have been banned from using the water from the Quesnel and Cariboo river systems. Here are the answers to some questions you might have about tailings ponds.

 

Ebola test drug has roots in Canada’s national lab

05-AUG-2014 08:17 AM   The Canadian Press, CBC News

Canadian research is at the heart of an experimental Ebola therapy recently given to two American aid workers infected while caring for patients in Liberia. Two of the monoclonal antibodies are the product of years of research done at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, the agency confirmed in an email late Monday. The Winnipeg lab and a number of other facilities have been working for years to produce Ebola and Marburg interventions. But lack of funding and regulatory hurdles had prevented these experimental tools from being used in outbreaks up until now.

 

Waves rearing as high as the second-floor windows of a building have been detected in the Beaufort Sea for the first time. Arctic waves are normally kept in check by sea ice, which has traditionally covered large areas of the Arctic Ocean even in the summer. But warmer temperatures as a result of climate change are melting away more and more of that ice.

 

Lack of scientific R&D funding will leave Canada in the dust

01-AUG-2014 08:12 AM   Todd Hirsch, The Globe and Mail

Scientific research and development is not a luxury for modern, industrialized countries such as Canada. It’s a necessity that we ignore at our peril. Without it, innovation and new discoveries suffer – and we risk being left behind in an increasingly competitive global economy. Canada falls well behind most other wealthy nations on total spending on research and development. Without solid participation from both governments and businesses, Canadian innovation from scientific research will continue to lag. And that, no doubt, will leave Canada in the dust.

 

The starving of Canadian science

31-JUL-2014 08:10 AM   Subash Sad, Ottawa Citizen

Not many are aware of the way science is funded, conducted and taught in Canada, and how this has deteriorated over the years to such an extent that this is going to pose a serious problem for the future generations to come. Successive governments have over the years given more money to companies at the cost of stagnation in funding for fundamental research. The approach has been ill conceived, as it is the fundamental research that opens up new avenues, which are then taken over by the biotech sector for knowledge translation.

 

Ebola outbreak : WHO launches $100M plan as death toll tops 700

31-JUL-2014 08:59 AM   Thomson Reuters, CBC News

Tags Funding Health

The World Health Organization is launching a $100-million response plan to combat an "unprecedented" outbreak of Ebola in West Africa that has killed 729 people out of 1,323 infected since February, the agency said on Thursday. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory against non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said his agency is stepping up its response to the outbreak and will send an additional 50 health experts to assist with efforts to control the outbreak. Canada's Public Health Agency is not taking that step just yet, instead recommending travellers practise special precautions, such as getting extra vaccinations. According to its online travel notice, the risk of infection is low for most travellers

 

The International Monetary Fund says Canada and other countries can improve their economies and environment by hiking energy taxes — while cutting them on people and capital. In a new book, Getting Energy Prices Right: From Principle to Practice, the IMF essentially endorses policies — at times advocated by the federal Liberals and NDP — calling for what some have termed a "green shift" in the taxation system. The Conservative government, however, has rejected carbon taxes.

 

Mine Arnaud accusée de manquer de transparence (French)

31-JUL-2014 08:14 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Le Devoir a appris que Mine Arnaud refuse actuellement de rendre publiques les études menées afin de répondre aux nombreuses lacunes soulevées par le BAPE dans son rapport, qui jugeait inacceptable le projet de construction de cette imposante mine à ciel ouvert à Sept-Îles. Une situation dénoncée par plusieurs personnes critiques du projet, qui rappellent que c’est l’État québécois qui pilote et finance l’essentiel de ce développement minier controversé.

 

Ottawa warned about its vulnerability to hackers, lack of strategy

31-JUL-2014 08:11 AM   Alex Boutilier, Toronto Star

Under the banner of Shared Services Canada, Ottawa has hoped to change that by bringing all departments and agencies under a unified, more secure network. But documents released by the Ottawa Citizen on Wednesday show Shared Services having a difficult time bringing institutions on board — particularly science and research organizations, such as NRC. Debi Daviau, the president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, said Shared Services had been working at NRC for about a month before the attack.

 

Canada nearing crossroads on mega telescope project

29-JUL-2014 08:09 AM   Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail

An international effort to build an enormous telescope in Hawaii that would see to the limits of the known universe has taken an important step forward, a signal that the Harper government will have to decide soon if Canadian astronomers will have a share in the instrument’s future discoveries.

 

Leadership needed in agri-food policy

29-JUL-2014 08:07 AM   Alex Binkley, Manitoba Co-operator

During the last year or so, the agri-food industry has been the subject of enough reports on its economic potential and scope for improvement to fill a respectable bookshelf. Whether from academics, researchers, think-tanks or politicians, the documents focus on virtually all the major issues. Now to keep these tomes from gathering dust. The latest report comes from the Agri-Innovators Committee, a group of well-known farm leaders. “Innovation is needed throughout the entire agri-food value chain,” they say in a report to Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. The “industry must drive innovation with governments as supporting players.” Change “innovation” to “agri-food policy” and we would really be making progress.

 

When Harper Killed the Census He Robbed Canadians

24-JUL-2014 08:05 AM   Murtaza Haider, Huffington Post

The Conservatives' attack on the Census not only cost Canadians their most valuable source of information, it also led to the departure of Canada's leading civil servant, Dr. Munir Sheikh, who in July 2010 resigned his position as Canada's chief statistician to protect the integrity of the institution he led.

 

Environment Canada’s enforcement branch asked a spokesman to “limit information” given to reporters about how long it took to launch a federal investigation into a serious Alberta oilsands leak last summer. The comments were included in more than 100 pages of emails obtained by the Star that were generated in response to questions from journalists last summer about the mysterious leak in Cold Lake, Alta., that now totals about 1.2 million litres of bitumen emulsion, a mixture of heavy oil and water.

 

Suspected Chinese cyber attach forces NRC security overhaul

29-JUL-2014 08:10 AM   Tom Spears and Jordan Press, Ottawa Citizen

The National Research Council has launched a massive, year-long security overhaul of its computer systems after a series of cyber attacks believed to have come from China.

 

Strange things under the Ottawa sun

28-JUL-2014 08:08 AM   Gardy Pardy, Embassy

Four "strange things" stand out in actions of the Harper government. The first is its hyper-partisanship; the second is its unwillingness to see science as a necessary aid to good governance or to appreciate the need to seek or accept expert advice; third, its willingness to attack and denigrate the basic institutions of democratic government such as the courts and Elections Canada; and fourth, its zealousness in pushing change, knowing it did not meet or was unlikely to meet the test of fealty to existing laws or to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 

Les experts d'Environnement Canada recommandent que soient protégés intégralement les neuf derniers habitats de la rainette faux-grillon, une espèce de grenouille, en Montérégie, dont celui de La Prairie.

 

Company blames CSA for some cost overruns

28-JUL-2014 10:34 AM   Jordan Press, The Star Phoenix

The company involved in the building of a made-in-Canada asteroid hunting satellite says an audit that was critical of the project was more about deflecting blame for the Canadian Space Agency's handling of the project than about understanding any problems. Space firm MSCI said the challenges with the satellite project, some of which were identified in the audit, weren't a result of a lack of experience on its part. Rather, the company argues, the problems with the project started with poorly written system requirements that lacked specifics. It said members of the CSA who tried to mentor MSCI - as the audit suggested they should - generally got in the way.

 

L’Arctique à risque (French)

26-JUL-2014 10:26 AM   Le Devoir, La Presse canadienne

Si un déversement majeur de pétrole devait se produire dans l’ouest de l’océan Arctique au Canada, les répercussions environnementales pourraient se manifester jusqu’en Russie, selon une nouvelle étude. Ces conclusions sont présentées par la division canadienne du World Wildlife Fund (WWF) alors que l’Office national de l’énergie se prépare à étudier des scénarios préventionnistes pour deux projets distincts d’exploration de pétrole dans la mer de Beaufort menés par la Pétrolière impériale et Chevron.

 

L’Office national de l’énergie (ONE) a ordonné à Enbridge de cesser ses travaux le long d’une canalisation située au Manitoba en raison de préoccupations relatives à la sécurité et à l’environnement. L’organisme fédéral a indiqué qu’une inspection de la canalisation courant entre l’Alberta et le Wisconsin, menée plus tôt ce mois-ci, avait permis de déceler plusieurs problèmes.

 

Solar power surging to forefront of Canadian energy

26-JUL-2014 10:11 AM   Richard Blackwell, The Globe and Mail

The Newboro project is part of a solar building boom under way across Ontario this summer, with construction crews active on about two dozen large solar projects. They will add to the more than 70 large solar farms already up and running all over the province. While that puts Canada among the top 10 countries of the world when it comes to the amount of solar installed, the planned and operational solar farms will contribute only about 1 per cent of Ontario’s power. Still, combined with other renewables such as wind, it is helping the province to wean itself away from fossil fuels, and close its coal-fired power plants.

 

Le gouvernement conservateur de Stephen Harper a dépensé 145 000$ au cours de l'hiver dernier pour sonder les Canadiens sur l'un des dossiers de l'heure au pays, soit les enjeux énergétiques. Mais l'exercice est qualifié de «pure propagande» par l'opposition officielle à Ottawa.

 

Alors que la 20e Conférence internationale sur le sida, qui se tient à Melbourne jusqu’au 25 juillet, fait une priorité de la politique de réduction des risques infectieux chez les toxicomanes, deux structures d’accompagnement des toxicomanes à Sydney sont considérées comme un modèle dans la réduction des risques de transmission tout comme pour leur impact sanitaire.

 

E-cigarette market on fire while scientists wage heated debate

25-JUL-2014 08:49 AM   Daniel Schwartz, CBC News

Electronic cigarette use is skyrocketing, revenue has reached the billions of dollars, legislators are talking about — and enacting — regulations, and more and more research is published every month. But the jury is still out on their safety, and whether they are a gateway to smoking.

 

World Wildlife Fund study used computer models to predict how oil spills would behave in Beaufort Sea. New research suggests a major oil spill in Canada's western Arctic would likely spread quickly and foul oceans around Alaska and possibly as far west as Russia. The research, funded by the World Wildlife Fund, comes as the National Energy Board prepares to consider blowout prevention plans in two separate proposals for offshore energy drilling.

 

Saskatchewan researchers help crack the wheat genome

24-JUL-2014 08:26 AM   Manitoba Co-Operator

University of Saskatchewan researchers are part of an international team who published the first chromosome-based draft sequence of the wheat genome, a development that promises wheat breeders powerful new tools in developing varieties to meet the challenges of world population growth and climate change.

 

Chicken farmers get fed funding for disease control research

24-JUL-2014 08:10 AM   Scott Larson, The Star Phoenix

A new research project aims to reduce the need for antibiotics in broiler chickens. The project, run by the Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan and co-financed with $275,000 in federal funding, will focus on disease control in the Saskatchewan broiler chicken industry. Its aim is to identify and characterize new variants of the avian reovirus and determine how they are transmitted. It also aims to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of vaccines for inclusion body hepatitis (IBH) in field trials.

 

Pen Canada, a Canadian charity that fights for freedom of expression and represents more than 1,000 writers and supports is the latest group identified for a political-activities audit by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).The group has been a vocal opponent of some of the Harper government’s recent policies, including the muzzling of federal scientists and the alleged surveillance of Canadian citizens as revealed through the Edward Snowden leaks.

 

Canadian charities would have to turn over lists of their donors’ identities to the Canada Revenue Agency under a proposal being floated by the Conservative government. The move is touted as a way to prevent tax-receipt fraud, but some charities are wary of the administrative burden — and the potential close surveillance of groups that criticize government policies.

 

Québec vient d'adopter le règlement provincial sur l'eau potable réclamé à cor et à cri par Gaspé depuis deux ans. Moins sévère que celui de la municipalité, il a pour effet de donner le feu vert à Pétrolia pour forer Haldimand n° 4.

 

Québec fixe enfin des règles (French)

24-JUL-2014 09:54 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Québec a finalement dévoilé mercredi son règlement sur la protection de l’eau potable, une mesure qui confirme que Pétrolia pourra poursuivre ses forages dans la ville de Gaspé, malgré la controverse qu’ils suscitent. Le Règlement sur le prélèvement des eaux et leur protection (RPEP) fixe pour la première fois la distance « minimale » qui devra être respectée entre un site de forage et une source d’eau potable. Celle-ci devra être de 500 mètres.

 

The Harper government heavily censored a memo showing the effectiveness of a non-partisan environmental group that had its funding axed, documents show. The government initially released the censored memo, sent to former environment minister Peter Kent, following a request through access to information legislation. It later released some of the censored passages following a complaint that prompted an investigation by the office of the federal information commissioner.

 

Canada’s space-bound laser has eyes for asteroid

22-JUL-2014 10:22 AM   Kate Allen, Toronto Star

A motley crew of kids, scientists and politicians posed in front of a boxy machine at the Royal Ontario Museum on Thursday. The instrument, known as a laser altimeter, quickly scanned them to create a multi-dimensional map of the scene. Four years from now, a new version of that instrument will be sent to map something slightly trickier — the asteroid Bennu, a carbon-rich space rock with a fascinating, if slightly menacing, biography.

 

Nearly one third of access to information requests on Ottawa’s plate this spring were expected to take more than four months to release, according to new data analyzed by the Star. Information tabled in Parliament revealed that 29 per cent of access to information requests being processed by Ottawa in May were expected to take more than 120 days to release.

 

Energy regulator reviews easing Arctic drilling rules

22-JUL-2014 10:16 AM   Mike De Souza, The Toronto Star

Canada’s national energy regulator is reviewing whether to ease longstanding safety rules surrounding deep water oil exploration in the Arctic. The National Energy Board announced the mid-summer review, potentially drifting from a long-standing Arctic policy still in effect in the United States that requires companies to drill emergency relief wells to contain spewing oil in case of a blowout.

 

Records de chaleur planétaires (French only)

22-JUL-2014 10:13 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

De nouvelles données américaines confirment la hausse continue des températures et l’ampleur de la crise climatique. La dépendance de l’humanité aux énergies fossiles se reflète de plus en plus sur le thermomètre planétaire. De nouvelles données scientifiques publiées lundi révèlent en effet que les derniers mois ont battu des records historiques à la hausse, tant sur les continents qu’à la surface des océans. Un signal de plus de l’aggravation de la crise climatique.

 

D’ici deux ou trois ans, le Dr Jean-Pierre Routy espère que les recherches contre le sida permettront d’offrir aux personnes atteintes du VIH des thérapies intelligentes qui permettront de tuer ou encore de déloger ce virus mortel qui affecte actuellement 35 millions de personnes dans le monde. Dans le cadre de la 20e Conférence internationale sur le sida à Melbourne, cet expert de l’Université McGill présentera, ce mardi, les recherches menées au Canada qui visent à mieux comprendre les mécanismes permettant au VIH de continuer de se cacher dans certaines cellules du corps malgré les traitements antiviraux.

 

Marine life in the high seas soak up twice as much CO2 from the atmosphere as Canada emits every year, a new study by the Global Ocean Commission revealed last month. This is a vitally important carbon reduction service and worth an estimated $148 billion a year.

 

Newfoundland’s healthy honeybees are an increasing draw for researchers in the race to understand why colonies across much of the globe are struggling or dying off. An international panel of 50 scientists last month called for tighter regulations and an ultimate phase-out of such products [neonic pesticides]. The group calling itself the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides compared so-called neonics or neonicotinoids, a type of insecticide that’s chemically reminiscent of nicotine, to the use of DDT in the 1960s.

 

La NASA a honoré l'un de ses plus célèbres astronautes, lundi, en rebaptisant un édifice du centre spatial Kennedy, en Floride. L'édifice porte maintenant le nom de Neil Armstrong, premier homme à avoir marché sur la lune, il y a 45 ans.

 

New research from the Heiltsuk First Nation points to a sort of bear highway through the Great Bear Rainforest on B.C.'s Central Coast. William Housty, a director with the Qqs Society, says they've found that the grizzly bears under study are travelling hundreds of kilometres each year along preferred routes — and one trail in particular along the salmon-producing Koeye River.

 

Federal health cuts hurt refugees claimants

20-JUL-2014 01:27 PM   Dr. Philip Berger and Dr. Meb Rashid, Toronto Sun

Ottawa’s refugee health care cuts have had a devastating impact on many refugees and put the health of all Canadians at risk. Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care warned the government the cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program, made two years ago, would be cruel and costly. All of the evidence has borne this out.

 

Tenderized beef will soon need labels

20-JUL-2014 01:25 PM   Global News, The Canadian Press

Canadian shoppers will be able to see next month if the beef they’re buying has been mechanically tenderized. Labelling regulations to take effect Aug. 21 are designed to protect consumers after the largest meat recall in the country’s history two years ago. Health Canada says beef that has been mechanically tenderized must have a sticker saying that. Packaged steaks must also have cooking instructions.

 

Le 20 juillet 1969, Buzz Aldrin n'avait pas les pieds sur terre lorsqu'une bonne partie de l'humanité s'est unie pour saluer un événement sans précédent. Alors, en cette date anniversaire de la mission Apollo 11 - et à cinq ans du 50e anniversaire -, Aldrin demande à tous de se souvenir où ils étaient lorsqu'Armstrong et lui sont devenus les premiers êtres humains à marcher sur la Lune, et de partager leurs souvenirs sur Internet.

 

Québec mise sur l’éolien malgré le marché défavorable (French only)

18-JUL-2014 11:48 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Même si l’achat d’énergie éolienne se fait à perte pour le Québec et dans un contexte d’importants surplus d’électricité, les libéraux entendent bien poursuivre le développement de la filière. Ils comptent d’ailleurs mandater un groupe de travail formé des « principaux acteurs de l’industrie » pour les conseiller sur la suite des choses.

 

What do these PMs know that economists don’t?

18-JUL-2014 11:41 AM   Munir Sheikh, The Globe and Mail

During Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent visit to Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper commented on climate change: “No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country. We are just a little more frank about that.” Mr. Abbott, having abolished Australia’s carbon tax, added: “I’ve always been against a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme because it harms our economy without necessarily helping the environment.” These two prime ministers were saying that a theory we economists have studied all our working lives, based on knowledge that has been accumulated for a century, is all wrong.

 

« Le ministère québécois de l’Agriculture [MAPAQ] a manifesté son intérêt d’acquérir quelque 100 hectares de cette propriété, a confirmé à la Terre Patrick Girard, agent des relations avec les médias à Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada, le 17 juillet dernier. Le ministère fédéral des Travaux publics amorcera bientôt la négociation pour la vente de la propriété », ajoute-t-il. Les négociations, auxquelles la municipalité de Frelighsburg est associée, peuvent durer jusqu’à 90 jours.

 

Canada is about to build technology that will be used to map an asteroid in 3D using lasers on an upcoming space mission. Canadian scientists will work with space technology firm MacDonald, Dettwiller and Associates Ltd. (MDA). The company is about to start building and testing the new tool, known as the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA).

 

They look like Fruit Roll-ups, they smell like bubble gum, but they can kill like tobacco. Research shows these products are six times more popular with youth than with adults. What's more, a recent study showed that more than half of tobacco users in Grades 9 through 12 smoke flavoured products, and the Health Canada survey it was based on estimated that every month about 29,000 teenagers try one of these fruity or minty nicotine delivery devices for the first time.

 

Politicians on attack after scientists call for more research into fracking

16-JUL-2014 02:50 PM   Peter O’Neil & Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun

Deputy premier Rich Coleman challenged Thursday the conclusions of a scientific panel into the environmental effect of shale gas development using fracking. The group of Canadian and U.S. scientists, appointed in 2011 by former federal environment minister Peter Kent to examine the sector's potential and risks across Canada, urge a cautionary, go-slow approach until more research is done on a relatively new sector.

 

Executive Director of ELA offers update on facility

16-JUL-2014 02:47 PM   Grace Protopapas, Kenora Online

With research underway and a new board of directors in place, things are looking up at the Experimental Lakes Area."We're really happy with the board we have put together," says Matt McCandless, who is the CEO. "The ELA has always been known for water research excellence, and we have board members who bring that. But now that the Experimental lakes Area is run by the IISD, there is a business dimension we need to consider.

 

L'Australie a aboli jeudi une taxe carbone vivement critiquée par les groupes miniers notamment, instaurée il y a deux ans par le gouvernement travailliste pour réduire les émissions carbone et lutter contre le changement climatique.

 

A leading Toronto doctor has reignited debate over research fraud saying doctors and academics who fudge and fabricate data should be locked up. Research misconduct can have “huge” impacts, and “it is time to regard such behaviour in the same category as criminal fraud and deal with it accordingly,” Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, co-director of the Centre for Global Child Health at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, argues Tuesday in the British Medical Journal.

 

NEB to delay decision on Trans Mountain pipeline

15-JUL-2014 02:40 PM   Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail

The National Energy Board will delay its final recommendation on the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project by almost seven months because of proposed route changes by the company.

 

An environmental group says its annual review of the state of Canada's parks has left it worried. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says most parks and proposed protected areas are facing greater challenges than they were a year ago.

 

Scientist wants to use LED light to grow plants on other planets

14-JUL-2014 09:18 AM   Walter McDaniel, Digital Journal

Researcher Mike Dixon with the University of Guelph in Canada has some big plans to amplify Light-Emitting Diode (LED) energy. If these work they could provide an energy source for plants to grow on Mars and other planets throughout the solar system.

 

Nuclear waste plan unsafe, panel hears

14-JUL-2014 09:16 AM   Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail

A retired nuclear scientist has slammed Ontario Power Generation over its proposed $1-billion nuclear waste burial site on Lake Huron, saying the utility’s safety assessment contains some dangerous errors. In a submission to a federal review panel, nuclear chemist Frank Greening said OPG’s contractors seriously underestimated the potential impacts of a bombing in the vicinity of pressure tubes that have been removed from reactors and stored as waste. In contrast to OPG assurances, Dr. Greening said the zirconium in the tubes would burn fiercely, setting off chain reactions similar to those in cluster bombs.

 

Canadians find ‘Agri-food’ label a little confusing, aggravating

14-JUL-2014 09:14 AM   Jordan Press, The Star Phoenix

Public opinion research conducted for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada found confusion around the term "agri-food" in the department's title. Some thought it had "negative connotations"; others found it "somewhat meaningless."

 

National parks under threat, report says

14-JUL-2014 09:12 AM   Gloria Galloway, The Globe and Mail

From the caribou breeding grounds in the Northwest Territories to the diverse forests of New Brunswick, the country’s leading wilderness advocate says the integrity of Canada’s parks is being threatened by budget cuts, human activity and, especially, resource extraction.

 

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose has unveiled proposed changes to food nutrition labels that she says aim to make them both easier to read, and more "relevant" to Canadians’ lives. Speaking in Edmonton on Monday, Ambrose said the proposed changes are the result of a series of consultations between the government and Canadian families that focused on the current food nutrition labels, and how they might be changed.

 

Controversial pesticides, which are used “prophylactically” on millions of hectares of Canadian farmland, have now been linked to not only the declines in bees, but birds. A Dutch study released Wednesday provides the strongest evidence yet that neonicotinoids are harming insect-eating birds like swallows, which are in sharp decline.

 

For animal producers, antibiotics are an important management tool to keep their herds and flocks healthy and profitable. It's estimated that up to 80 per cent of the world's antibiotics are used in agriculture. Antibiotic use on farms is creating superbug infections in humans. The World Health Organization warns that unless antibiotic use is reined in, the world is headed for a dystopian future where routine infections are deadly.

 

A group of medical doctors will urge Health Canada today to recognize that microwave radiation from common wireless devices is making some of their patients sick. The group includes physicians from across Canada and professors from four universities who say there is now "considerable evidence and research that exposure to WiFi, Smart Meters and Cell towers can have an adverse impact," on human health.

 

Changing climate at root of ‘utterly unprecedented’ summer flood

07-JUL-2014 08:57 AM   Margaret Munro, Postmedia News

Smith Creek in southeastern Saskatchewan normally runs dry in July. Last week it hit an all-time high and the stream gauge that scientists have been monitoring for decades is now under water. So are countless homes and farms in Saskatchewan and Manitoba where the province has declared a state of emergency and called in the military to help deal with the stunning summer flood.

 

First Nations critical of oilsands biodiversity

07-JUL-2014 08:55 AM   Maria Church, Northern Journal

A report showing plant and animal life in the oilsands region is flourishing at more than 80 per cent compared to undisturbed areas is raising eyebrows among those conducting a First Nations community monitoring program downstream. Bruce Maclean, research coordinator for the Mikisew Cree First Nation and head of Fort Chipewyan’s community-based water monitoring efforts, said the report does not accurately reflect what’s happening on the ground in First Nations communities downstream of the oilsands.

 

Dreaded Asian Carp the target of new Ontario lab

07-JUL-2014 08:53 AM   Adam Carter, CBC News

Canada has a new tool to battle the spread of an insatiable invasive species: an Asian carp research lab that’s the first of its kind in the country. Researchers say the Burlington, Ont.-based lab at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW) will be an integral part of the battle against a fish that threatens to decimate food sources for native species in North America. The facility was formally unveiled Monday.

 

Examining Canada’s scientific footprint

04-JUL-2014 08:50 AM   Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail

Science is serious business. Governments, companies and charities invest hundreds of billions to fuel research efforts worldwide. The results, they hope, will increase knowledge, drive economic growth, improve lives and create new possibilities for people in the future. But which science matters most and who’s doing it? Those are the questions underlying a new list of the world’s top researchers compiled by the data and media company Thomson Reuters.

 

Meteorologists have allegedly been added to the list of government employees that are not allowed to say anything to the media about climate change, but a former employee of Environment Canada says that's only part of the problem. When the Harper government was elected, a communications directive was issued that prevented scientists from speaking to the media without permission. It seems that meteorologists are now falling under that umbrella.

 

No Canadian at space station before 2017

02-JUL-2014 08:44 AM   Peter Rekobowchuk, Calgary Herald

Unless Canada makes a lot more contributions to the International Space Station, it could be a while before another Canadian astronaut visits the giant orbiting space laboratory.For the moment, what's clear is that no Canadians will be heading up to the space station before 2017 - at the earliest.

 

Des standards dictés par l'industrie, déplorent des experts (French only)

29-JUN-2014 08:18 AM   Marie-Claude Malboeuf, La Presse

Tags Health

Les Canadiens qui veulent maigrir se font jeter de la poudre aux yeux par l’industrie des produits de santé naturels et par le ministère fédéral de la Santé. On y découvre les 61 recommandations du Groupe de travail sur l’efficacité des produits amaigrissants, qui a été créé en 2011 pour conseiller la Direction des produits de santé naturels de Santé Canada. Jusqu’ici, le gouvernement avait systématiquement refusé de rendre ce rapport public.

 

A new study from the University of Manitoba will soon challenge industry and government claims downplaying environmental health impacts of oilsands development, said the chief of a First Nations community Friday. First Nations communities have alleged that toxic pollution from oilsands operators is contaminating their air, water and food. Representatives from industry and the federal and provincial governments have pointed to research suggesting the toxins aren’t yet at unsafe levels.

 

Feds Quintuple allowed Catch on Endangered Salmon Species

27-JUN-2014 02:30 PM   Kristian Secher, The Tyee

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is allowing commercial fishermen to catch five times as many endangered coho salmon in anticipation of this year's massive sockeye run on the Fraser River. Conservationists are outraged with the federal decision, which they say will further threaten the coho species in the rush to allow fishermen a greater catch during the annual sockeye return.

 

New Parks policy limits information

26-JUN-2014 02:26 PM   Cathy Ellis, Rocky Mountain Outlook

A new communication policy directing all Parks Canada media requests go through high-ranking bureaucrats in Ottawa means Banff residents – and the Canadian public – no longer have the same access to information about their national parks as they used to. The policy to put tighter controls on the release of information means every media request, no mater how benign, must be approved at the top with the only exception being immediate public safety issues.

 

Report warns world's fragile oceans pushed to point of collapse

23-JUN-2014 02:23 PM   Gloria Galloway, The Globe and Mail

The Global Ocean Commission has put forward a report on the declining health of the planet’s high seas, the 64 per cent of the ocean surface that isn’t under the control and protection of a national government. The commission is a combination of public and private sector figures, including former heads of state and ministers as well as business people, supported by scientific and economic advisors working on ways to reverse the degradation of the ocean and address the failures of high seas governance. Their report sets out five main problems, from dramatic over-fishing to rising pollution, and a set of recommendations for reversing the decline.

 

Scientists Call for Tar Sands Moratorium

25-JUN-2014 08:26 AM   Jane Kleeb, Boldnebraska.org

In a groundbreaking Nature Journal article, a group of economists, policy researchers, ecologists, and scientists make the case for a moratorium on new pipelines in North America until a “more coherent approach” can be developed to evaluate tar sands projects in the context of a broader energy and climate strategy, taking into account the long-term and cumulative consequences of multiple projects or of global carbon pollution.

 

Evidence-based Union? A new alliance for science advice in Europe

23-JUN-2014 02:15 PM   James Wilsdon, The Guardian

David Cameron’s increasingly forlorn efforts to block Jean-Claude Juncker continue to generate the heat in European politics, but today sees the launch of a welcome effort to bring light to the sometimes murky recesses of EU policymaking. This afternoon, at the Euroscience Open Forum in Copenhagen, a new pan-EU network of government science advisers will hold its first meeting. Senior scientific representatives from twelve member states, including the UK’s Sir Mark Walport, will discuss how to strengthen the use of evidence in EU policymaking and improve coordination between national systems, particularly during emergencies, such as when clouds of volcanic ash from Iceland grounded flights across Europe in 2011.

 

Shuffle sees new top bureaucrats at Energy, Environment

20-JUN-2014 02:08 PM   Kathryn May, Ottawa Citizen

Serge Dupont is leaving his job as deputy minister of Natural Resources Canada to become the IMF’s executive director. Environment Canada deputy minister Bob Hamilton got the nod to replace Dupont at Natural Resources. The shuffle at the energy and environment portfolios come on the heels of the Conservative government’s approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline, subject to Enbridge meeting the 209 conditions laid down by a federal review panel.

 

They're also a little hazy on some of the things it does.

 

Barrette vise des compressions de 600 millions $ (French)

25-JUN-2014 08:24 AM   Alexandre Robillard, Le Devoir

Tags Funding Health

Le ministre de la Santé, Gaétan Barrette, envisage des compressions qui pourraient être de l’ordre de 600 millions $ dans la «bureaucratie» du réseau de la santé.

 

Fix the link where science and policy meet

23-JUN-2014 08:22 AM   The Globe and Mail

The connection between science and public policy within the federal government is broken, and the consequences for Canada are becoming disastrous. We propose four ways to fix this problem. But first, how is the connection broken, and why should Canadians care?

 

Un récent discours livré à Washington lors duquel le ministre canadien des Affaires étrangères John Baird a demandé des développements rapides dans le dossier de l'oléoduc Keystone XL semble avoir provoqué beaucoup d'anxiété à Ottawa.

 

Foote says government failing to address climate change

23-JUN-2014 08:18 AM   The Southern Gazette

In a press release, Foote said the Conservatives have failed to take any meaningful action to protect the environment after nearly a decade in power

 

Turning salmon waste into biodiesel

23-JUN-2014 08:17 AM   Clayton Hunt, The Beacon

Dr. Dave is leading the Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development’s (CASD) marine biodiesel research team in creating biodiesel and other value added products from salmon waste.

 

Waterhen Lake, in Manitoba, is a modest speck on Canada’s vast freshwater landscape. The lake produces a modest amount of commercially caught walleye and northern pike. As of Tuesday, Waterhen Lake will boast an immodest label: the first sustainably certified freshwater fishery in the Western Hemisphere.

 

Censorship of government scientists bad for Canadians

19-JUN-2014 09:58 AM   Stefan Klietsch, Insideottawavalley.com

Canadians can pride themselves for living in one of the most reputable countries in the world, but they should also regret that such respect exists in spite of the Harper Conservatives. Their censorship of government scientists is now infamous abroad, which first received international attention when Nature magazine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science called for greater Canadian scientific freedom.

 

Ottawa refuse de revoir la norme sur le béton (French)

19-JUN-2014 10:27 AM   Guillaume Bourgault-Côté, Le Devoir

Le gouvernement conservateur n’a pas l’intention de revoir la norme fédérale qui établit si un béton peut être utilisé en construction, malgré une recommandation formulée jeudi dernier par la Cour supérieure. C’est à Québec de voir au problème, répond Ottawa.

 

Canada-Russia relations cast pall over space launch

19-JUN-2014 11:17 AM   Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail

Tags Space

Two Canadian satellites, each the size of a toaster, are heading to space on Thursday to probe the inner workings of some of the brightest stars in the sky. But in a time of roiling political tension over the situation in Ukraine, the Canadian Space Agency has made no public mention of the launch, scheduled for 3:11 p.m. (ET), aboard a Russian rocket.

 

Ottawa répond aux désirs des géants pétroliers (French)

18-JUN-2014 10:52 AM   Alexandre Shields, Hélène Buzzetti

Malgré l’ampleur de la controverse soulevée par le projet Northern Gateway, le gouvernement Harper a approuvé mardi la construction de ce pipeline d’Enbridge qui permettra d’exporter du pétrole des sables bitumineux vers l’Asie. Une bonne nouvelle pour l’industrie de l’énergie fossile, mais une décision dénoncée par les partis d’opposition et les groupes environnementaux.

 

Lubrication helps explain slow, silent earthquakes on B.C. coast

18-JUN-2014 11:07 AM   Margaret Munro, The Globe and Mail

Tags

The “slow” quakes emanate from the deep like clockwork every 14 months on Canada’s west coast. They typically release the energy of a Magnitude 7 earthquake, but the powerful tectonic events are almost imperceptible because they occur slowly over two weeks, instead of in sudden jolts that last just seconds.

 

L'Équipe d'enquête du Bureau de la sécurité dans les transports du Lac-Mégantic fait partie des lauréats des prix d'excellence de la fonction publique décernés hier dans le cadre de la Semaine nationale de la fonction publique.

 

Sécurité ferroviaire: le BST satisfait de la réaction d'Ottawa (French)

18-JUN-2014 10:33 AM   La Presse canadienne, La Presse

Tags

Le Bureau de la sécurité des Transports (BST) s'est dit globalement satisfait des mesures mises en place et envisagées par Transports Canada en matière de transport ferroviaire dans la foulée de la tragédie de Lac-Mégantic.

 

Government silent as questions mount about asbestos danger

17-JUN-2014 10:57 AM   Gloria Galloway, The Globe and Mail

The federal Conservative government is refusing to join the rest of the developed world in declaring that there are no safe uses for asbestos, even though the material is the top workplace killer in Canada and deaths from exposure are expected to rise.

 

Ottawa withholding data on B.C. salmon farms: report

16-JUN-2014 10:55 AM   Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail

The federal government is hampering scientific research on fish diseases by refusing to release all of the data gathered from salmon farms on the West Coast, a new report by the University of Victoria has concluded.

 

Stephen Harper wants public servants to know he cares. That's the point of this week's National Public Service Week to celebrate those "Proudly Serving Canadians." But public servants aren't buying it. In fact, they're boycotting the whole thing.

 

Providing healthcare to everyone in Canada, including refugees

16-JUN-2014 10:40 AM   Dr. Ali Zentner, Global News

Doctors and healthcare support workers are protesting government cuts to refugee healthcare. Dr. Ali Zentner explains what those cuts are and their effect on patients and healthcare providers.

 

Dozens protest cuts

16-JUN-2014 10:37 AM   Ian MaCalpine, The Whig

Some 50 people, including doctors, health-care professionals and interested citizens took to Springer Market Square on Monday to protest federal government cuts to refugee health car.

 

Stephen Harper’s government: Oilsands toxins like BBQ steak

16-JUN-2014 10:34 AM   Mike De Souza, mikedesouza.com

Ten days ago, I asked Environment Canada whether any of its scientists would be available for interviews about their research. The department hasn’t yet answered this question along with others. The questions arose following the publication of a new study concluding that deposits of toxic mercury were forming a bull’s eye around oilsands operations in Alberta.

 

Editorial: Lyme disease needs research

14-JUN-2014 10:32 AM   Editorial, Times Colonist

Elizabeth May has achieved something of a miracle — the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands and the leader of the federal Green party got a private-member’s bill through Parliament with unanimous approval. More important, the bill opens the door to better diagnosis and treatment of a serious disease that many say is a growing threat to the health of Canadians.

 

National Energy Board spends $21 million on Calgary move

14-JUN-2014 10:28 AM   Mike De Souza, Mike De Souza.com

Canada’s national energy regulator estimates it will spend about $21 million over two years – more than new funding announced to improve its existing oversight of pipeline companies – to move into its new Calgary offices.

 

Accurate jobs data crucial for Canada

13-JUN-2014 10:21 AM   Editorial, Guelph Mercury

This would be funny if it wasn't so alarming. At the same time as employers are struggling with increasingly unreliable jobs data, the federal government cut spending on labour market research by 20 per cent — that's something like $14 million.

 

Canada needs to take a long-term approach to oil and its alternatives

13-JUN-2014 03:37 PM   Bob McDonald, Quirks and Quarks

Tags Energy

While Canadian politicians lobby other countries to take our oil and gas through pipelines, rail and northern shipping routes, science museums across the country are showcasing a cleaner energy future. Canada is clearly an oil producing country. With more than $150 billion invested in oil sands development and billions more in fracking natural gas, we are rapidly becoming the Saudi Arabia of North America. The Athabasca oil sands project alone is the third-largest reserve in the world, with production expected to reach 6.4 million barrels a day by 2030. According to the Alberta government's own documents, the province can expect $350 billion in royalties and $122 billion in tax revenue over the next 25 years. This massive short-term gain from selling off our natural resources is what our government is counting on to keep the economy strong. But what about the long-term?

 

Le Saint-Laurent étouffé par l’acidification (French)

12-JUN-2014 10:56 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Le Saint-Laurent souffre particulièrement de l’acidification accélérée de ses eaux. Ce phénomène inévitable, provoqué en bonne partie par les émissions de CO2 issues de la combustion d’énergies fossiles, constitue une menace de plus en plus sérieuse pour l’ensemble de la chaîne alimentaire.

 

Des conservateurs réclament un débat (French)

11-JUN-2014 11:15 AM   La Presse canadienne, Le Devoir

Le ministre fédéral de la Justice dit aux médecins québécois de respecter le Code criminel, malgré l’adoption par Québec d’une loi pour encadrer les soins de fin de vie.

 

New wind research laboratory seeks to understand effects of storms

11-JUN-2014 03:03 PM   Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail

Horia Hangan doesn’t hesitate when you ask him why he finds wind so fascinating. “Because you can’t see it,” he says. “Always you have to guess it, you have to reveal it, which is fantastic.” Now Dr. Hangan is ready to reveal the wind like no one has before. His brainchild is the newly completed Wind Engineering Energy Environment Research Institute – WindEEE – a $34-million domed laboratory that sits like a giant tortoise over the rural landscape near London, Ont. The facility is unique in the world because it can reproduce wind movement in all its three-dimensional complexity, from sudden gusts and downdrafts to swirling tornadoes that rip across a simulated landscape.

 

The public is up in arms after Canadian officials decided to prohibit government weather forecasters from publicly discussing climate change.

 

Plus de 2000 formulaires de recensement égarés (French)

09-JUN-2014 11:45 AM   Hugo De Grandpré, La Presse

Tags Census

Statistiques Canada et Postes Canada ont perdu la trace de plus de 2000 formulaires lors du dernier recensement, dont plus de 500 au Québec, malgré les efforts déployés par le gouvernement Harper pour ménager la vie privée des Canadiens.

 

The federal government is coming under fire over allegedly adding meteorologists to the list of people not allowed to discuss climate change but a former employee of Environment Canada says that’s only part of the problem.

 

Flawed joint review panel doesn’t reflect science-based policy

09-JUN-2014 01:38 PM   Katie Gibbs, Hill Times

OTTAWA—Last week, prominent Canadian scientists released an analysis of the Joint Review Panel’s (JRP) assessment of the Northern Gateway Pipeline. A letter, signed by more than 300 scientists, calling on the Prime Minister to reject the report, accompanied the analysis. This comes as a final decision on the controversial pipeline project is expected in the coming weeks. The letter is sure to spur debate over the appropriate role of scientific evidence in important government decisions like the Northern Gateway pipeline. The Prime Minister has stated from the outset that the pipeline project would be “evaluated on an independent basis scientifically” and Joe Oliver, the former Natural Resources minister, called the report “a rigorous, open and comprehensive science-based assessment.”

 

A new report argues that, with federal science cuts and policy changes, Canadians don’t have enough scientific knowledge of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to allow for safe oil and gas exploration there. A lack of research and newly-relaxed environmental assessment regulations leave too much unknown, wrote the co-authors of the St. Lawrence Coalition report, all of whom are scientists working for environmental organizations. For example, the decline of the beluga population in the area “should trigger the alarm” that more work is needed to understand contaminants currently in Gulf waters, as well as the effects of climate change, says the report. Nine conservation groups from Eastern Canada signed the report.

 

C. Scott Findlay: The uses of evidence in politics

07-JUN-2014 08:25 AM   C. Scott Findlay, Ottawa Citizen

In a recent interview, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was unequivocal on the issue of childhood vaccination. He believes it works: “We know, we scientifically know, what vaccinations and immunizations have done for us.” He was equally unequivocal about whom the public should trust: “Don’t indulge your theories; think of your children and listen to the experts.” Harper is to be commended for his well-informed public stand on the vaccination issue. But on the importance of scientific evidence and the role of scientific expertise, the government’s record is one of ambivalence, even capriciousness.

 

Stephen Harper’s blatant hypocrisy on science

06-JUN-2014 01:44 PM   Alana Westwood, The Star

Tags Funding Health

In a rare one-on-one interview this past Thursday with the CBC, Prime Minister Stephen Harper definitively laid out his position on vaccination. Directly confronting the anti-vaccination movement, he chided Canadians, “Don’t indulge your theories; think of your children and listen to the experts.” Harper is right: vaccinations have saved millions of lives, and the science in support of them is overwhelming. Andrew Wakefield, the former British surgeon who claimed to show a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism has been widely discredited and exposed as a fraud. Unfortunately, his misguided claims infected public consciousness and led to a resurgence of deadly diseases once thought eradicated. Harper called Canadians out, saying, “it’s a tragedy when people start to go off on their own theories and not listen to scientific evidence.” He’s reinforcing that sentiment with a commitment to a further $3.5 billion of continued funding for maternal and child health worldwide, with vaccination being a cornerstone of the program.

 

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - An Environment Canada study has found elevated levels of mercury in northern Alberta with the bull's-eye centred on oilsands developments. "These results suggest that oilsands developments are a source of airborne (mercury) emissions to local landscapes and water bodies," says the study, which has been reviewed and published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Levels of the most dangerous form of the potent neurotoxin are about 13 times higher than normal in the most affected area, about 60 kilometres north of Fort McMurray and a little east of the community of Fort McKay.

 

Des centaines de scientifiques demandent au premier ministre Stephen Harper de rejeter le rapport de la commission fédérale d'examen, qui recommandait l'approbation du projet d'oléoduc Northern Gateway, d'Enbridge.

 

L’attente toujours trop longue au Canada (French)

03-JUN-2014 12:40 PM   Amélie Daoust-Boisvert, Le Devoir

Les temps d’attente pour obtenir des soins de santé s’améliorent légèrement au Canada, mais demeurent trop élevés en comparaison d’autres pays ayant un système universel, selon l’Alliance sur les temps d’attente.

 

David Suzuki: The challenge of sustaining our oceans

03-JUN-2014 08:22 AM   David Suzuki, Straight.com

June 8 is World Oceans Day. It's a fitting time to contemplate humanity's evolving relationship with the source of all life. For much of human history, we've affected marine ecosystems primarily by what we've taken out of the seas. The challenge as we encounter warming temperatures and increasing industrial activity will be to manage what we put into them. As a top predator, humans from the tropics to the poles have harvested all forms of marine life, from the smallest shrimp to the largest whales, from the ocean's surface to its floor. The staggering volume of fish removed from our waters has had a ripple effect through all ocean ecosystems. Yet the ocean continues to provide food for billions of people, and improved fishing practices in many places, including Canada, are leading to healthier marine-life populations. We're slowly getting better at managing what we catch to keep it within the ocean's capacity to replenish. But while we may be advancing in this battle, we're losing the war with climate change and pollution.

 

U.S. urges Canada to act on climate change

03-JUN-2014 08:11 AM   Campbell Clark, The Globe and Mail Ottawa

As President Barack Obama unveiled the first major regulations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States, his ambassador in Ottawa urged Canada to do the same and take action to combat climate change. It is a reminder to Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the political challenge he now faces: His chief climate-change policy has been to match U.S. action, but now the Americans are getting more aggressive, and publicly suggesting Canada act too. U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman, in his first speech since taking office in April, noted the U.S. move unveiled Monday to cut emissions from coal plants by 30 per cent by 2030. And then he called for more action, including on Canada’s fastest-growing source of emissions, oil production.

 

300 scientists slam “flawed” review of Enbridge pipeline

03-JUN-2014 08:08 AM   Mike De Souza, Investigative reporter

Some 300 scientists are urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reject a report that recommended approval of a major oil pipeline to the west coast of British Columbia, describing it as a “flawed analysis” that downplayed key environmental impacts. Following lengthy hearings, a review panel last December recommended approving the project – a 1,177 pipeline network, proposed by energy company Enbridge, that would send 525,000 barrels per day of bitumen, the heavy oil from Alberta’s oilsands, to Kitimat, B.C. The panel recommended 209 conditions be attached to the project approval. But the scientists, led by Kai Chan, an associate professor and principal investigator at the University of British Columbia’s Connecting Human and Natural Systems Lab, sent Harper a letter on Monday concluding that the review’s final report wasn’t balanced and had five major flaws that made it “indefensible.”

 

Marijuana: Santé Canada inondé de demandes (French)

02-JUN-2014 12:56 PM   La Presse Canadienne, Le Devoir

Santé Canada croule sous le grand nombre de demandes de permis pour cultiver de la marijuana à des fins médicales, car plusieurs entreprises veulent participer à l’essor prévu de ce secteur.

 

They call themselves “the people of the land of the willow” and have survived for thousands of years hunting, fishing and trapping along the Athabasca River in northern Alberta. But today the 1,200 members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) are caught up in one of the largest industrial developments on the face of the planet — the expansion of the sprawling, land-devouring oilsands operations intended to produce 5.2 million barrels of oil a day by 2030. The oilsands boom is seen by petroleum companies and the Harper government as essential to Canada’s future economic strength. But to the ACFN, it means something entirely different: Troubling cancer rates, contamination of vital waterways and damage to their homeland, livelihood and culture.

 

What is it about the Harper government's special kink about fisheries -- and the media's failure to hold it to account for its unrelenting assault on it and everything related to it (including environment, foreign affairs and the abuse of Parliament) -- which, more than anything, reveals the government's nasty streak? Consider this episode of fisheries-related Harperism on the international stage. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization has drafted guidelines, after five years of member-state consultations, to promote small-scale fisheries worldwide, with the emphasis on sustainability and food security in impoverished countries. Of nearly 100 countries involved, guess which is the only one not signing -- and thereby holding up the procedure under UN rules of unanimity, which could well scuttle it?

 

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a strong case for parents to accept scientific evidence about the effectiveness of vaccines. “We do have scientists and medical professionals who do great work and verify this and I just think its a tragedy when people start to go off on their own theories and not listen to the scientific evidence,” he told the CBC in an exclusive interview. “Don’t indulge your theories, think of your children and listen to the experts.” Within his own government, scientists and professionals who do research and gather evidence, are urging the prime minister to take a second look at his own theories.

 

Ban Ki-Moon appelle les autres pays à s’engager (French)

31-MAY-2014 01:02 PM   La Presse canadienne, Le Devoir

Le secrétaire général des Nations unies, Ban Ki-moon, a imploré vendredi le Canada d’augmenter son financement de l’aide internationale pour atteindre une ambitieuse cible mondiale, lors de son passage au sommet sur la santé maternelle, néonatale et infantile à Toronto.

 

Reports from earlier this week have confirmed that Canadian meteorologists are forbidden from publicly discussing climate change, on the basis that the mere study of meteorology does not qualify an individual to make predictions past a few months. Science news site IFL Science reported this week that all weather forecasters employed by the Canadian Meteorological Service have been banned from discussing long-term climate change patterns and predictions. Environment Canada spokesperson Mark Johnson said that meteorologists can speak to their specific areas of expertise only.

 

The climate change science cop-out

30-MAY-2014 03:11 PM   Jason Samenow, Washington Post

If you’re asked about climate change science, duck and cover. That’s the spineless strategy of politicians and governments without the courage to discuss or encourage dialog on this important, timely issue. Politico reports some Republicans have recently evaded questions about climate change science with responses such as ”I am not a scientist” or “we are not experts”. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner said he’s “not qualified to debate the science over climate change” when asked if he thought it was a problem. Meanwhile, the Canadian government has directed its weather forecasters not to talk about climate change according to environmental journalist Mike De Souza. Apparently, Environment Canada doesn’t think its own meteorologists are equipped to talk about climate change, De Souza reports…

 

Climat, météo et fédéral (French only)

29-MAY-2014 02:45 PM   Jean-François Cliche, Le Soleil

Vient-on de découvrir une nouvelle épaisseur de bâillon imposé aux scientifiques fédéraux ? C’est ce que soutient le journaliste politico-environnemental Mike De Souza dans un billet qu’il vient de publier sur son blogue et qui a déclenché une petite tempête sur les réseaux sociaux. Vous me direz bien ce que vous en pensez mais, pour ma part, je suis un peu partagé… Je comprends bien le contexte dans lequel le billet de M. De Souza s’inscrit et je trouve moi aussi démocratiquement dommageable, inexplicable et injustifiable le bâillon que le gouvernement Harper impose aux scientifiques fédéraux. Mon collègue De Souza fait d’ailleurs un bon résumé de ce contexte et insiste beaucoup dessus dans son billet.

 

Innovation and strong business impulses will be driving factors in reducing maternal and child mortality in the post-2015 development agenda, experts said during the final day of Canada’s maternal, newborn and child health summit in Toronto. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said a lot has changed since the the world decided on its Millennium Development Goals in 2000, and now there’s an opportunity to come up with a vision on how to fund aid projects that will “really stretch people’s imagination.” He made the remarks during a panel discussion moderated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which also included Tanzanian President Jakaya M. Kikwete, Plan Canada's Rosemary McCarney, World Health Organization director-general Margaret Chan, and Dr. Rajiv Shah of the United States Agency for International Development.

 

Governments need to loosen muzzles on public-health officers

29-MAY-2014 03:04 PM   André Picard, The Globe and Mail

If we want a healthy population and healthy public policies that support that goal, we need fearless, independent and outspoken Medical Officers of Health. We don’t need toadies doing the biding of government and business – there are enough of those already. And we don’t need more muzzled public employees – there are legions of those already, too. We need Medical Officers of Health to speak health-care truths to power no matter how uncomfortable it makes the powers-that-be. That’s why governments from coast-to-coast-to-coast should pay attention to a call Thursday by the New Brunswick Medical Society to ensure the independence of the public health doctors in the province and, by extension, in every jurisdiction.

 

OTTAWA-Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is describing fresh allegations of muzzling as “absolutely ridiculous.” Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Canadian Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq rejected criticism from opposition New Democratic Party MP Megan Leslie who said the government “will stop at nothing to hide the consequences of climate change.” Leslie raised the issue in the Canadian House of Commons following comments from Environment Canada explaining that its meteorologists were not supposed to talk about climate change in media interviews. Some recently-released quotes from a union survey included comments from a meteorologist who expressed concerns about publicly speaking about climate change and described it as a “career-limiting move.”

 

I like it when people talk about climate change. I even like it when they speak against climate change – as long as they bring arguments and act rationally. People shouldn’t be forbidden from talking about these kind of things, one way or another – everybody should be encouraged to look at the scientific facts, and emit opinions based on them – not half baked media outlets. However, Canada’s government doesn’t think that way. In a survey by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada 86% of respondents said that if a government policy had the potential to harm public health and safety or the environment they “could not share their concerns with the public or media or public without censure or retaliation.”

 

Vaccinations are 'proven to work': Melinda Gates, Stephen Harper

29-MAY-2014 02:49 PM   Trinh Theresa Do, CBC News

Tags Funding Health

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he doesn’t understand why people in the developed world don’t get vaccinated. Harper, speaking alongside Melinda Gates in an exclusive TV interview with the CBC’s Hannah Thibedeau, said vaccinations have been “lifesavers” in our society and elsewhere. “It's hard for me not to get very emotional about this because we know, we scientifically know, what vaccinations and immunizations have done for us, personally, in our generation and for generations after us,” he said on the second day of the government's maternal, newborn and child health summit. “I frankly don't understand people who are walking away in our society from something that's proven to work.”

 

HALIFAX — Canadian scientists are urging the federal government to approve guidelines aimed at protecting small-scale fisheries around the world, but which are being held up by Ottawa over concerns the process has become too politicized. About 70 academics, fisheries experts and ecologists from across the country signed a letter to the prime minister and the ministers of foreign affairs and fisheries, urging them to sanction the document from a committee with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Ratana Chuenpagdee, a Memorial University professor in St. John’s, N.L., who consulted on the guidelines, said they sent the letter Monday after Canada abruptly registered its opposition to certain wording and became the only dissenting voice out of 97 other member states.

 

À la mi-mai, 10 mois après la catastrophe qui a frappé la ville de Lac‑Mégantic, les procureurs du gouvernement du Québec ont déposé des accusations criminelles contre trois employés de première ligne de la société Montréal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA), alors que les dirigeants, les administrateurs et les propriétaires de l'entreprise échappaient à toute poursuite. Chaque suspect, qui a dû défiler en public, menottes aux poings, dans le plus pur style américain de la « marche du condamné », a été accusé de 47 chefs d'accusation de négligence criminelle ayant causé la mort.

 

Here’s why Statistics Canada’s in so much trouble

28-MAY-2014 02:31 PM   Jason Kirby, MacLean’s

Tags Funding

That Statistics Canada is in chaos is no secret. Incidents of poor or incomplete data have been highlighted with increasing and disturbing regularity. The barren wasteland of Canadian statistics was already a concern before Auditor-General Michael Ferguson warned the government has serious gaps in its numbers around job vacancies. Earlier this month the agency’s director of labour statistics said any new survey on vacancies would cost “well over” $5 million and budget cuts make that impossible. So yeah, StatsCan’s a mess. But it’s still easy to forget just how deep the job cuts at the agency have been. Today StatsCan released figures about Ottawa’s spending on science and technology, and buried in the tables was a breakdown of federal workers engaged in science and technology by department and agency, including StatsCan.

 

Melanoma a fast rising cancer in Canada

28-MAY-2014 02:25 PM   CBC News

Tags

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is on the rise among Canadian men and women, but it is also one of the most preventable forms, according to a new report. The Canadian Cancer Society’s annual statistics report shows skin cancer rates in the past two decades have increased, especially among those over 50. Yet it’s the risky trends among younger people that the society is worried about. "More Canadians are spending time out in the sun and protecting themselves less than they used to," said Prithwish De, an epidemiologist with the Canadian Cancer Society in Toronto. It's the younger Canadians under the age of 30, specifically between the ages of 16 and 24, that tend to spend the most time out in the sun without protecting themselves very much and also that's the same age group that tends to use indoor tanning the most."

 

What Do Canadians Value? The Government No Longer Knows

27-MAY-2014 02:20 PM   Sean Holman, TheTyee.ca

Tags Funding

As a result of a lack of federal government funding, Canada wasn't included in the most recent World Values Survey -- one of the few means we have of knowing what our values are, how we differ from people in other countries and whether those values have changed over time. The survey, which uses face-to-face interviews rather than phone calls, has happened six times over the past 33 years, with the most recent conducted in 59 different countries. Respondents answer a questionnaire that measures nearly 250 indicators covering everything from someone's feelings about race to their political leanings. In the past, the survey has included Canada, with 2,164 Canadian respondents in 2005 and 1,931 in 2000.

 

Weather forecasters at Environment Canada aren’t supposed to discuss climate change in public, says a Canadian government spokesman. Environment Canada made the comments in response to emailed questions about its communications policy. The department defended its policy by suggesting that Environment Canada meteorologists – among the most widely-quoted group of government experts in media reports and broadcasts – weren’t qualified to answer questions about climate change. “Environment Canada scientists speak to their area of expertise,” said spokesman Mark Johnson in an email. “For example, our Weather Preparedness Meteorologists are experts in their field of severe weather and speak to this subject. Questions about climate change or long-term trends would be directed to a climatologist or other applicable authority.”

 

Salmon farmers fish for federal legislation

27-MAY-2014 01:59 PM   Patrick Blennerhassett, Business Vancouver

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The lack of a federal aquaculture act is hurting British Columbia salmon farming, and the sector as a whole in Canada, say industry leaders. “We’re the only seafood farming industry in the world that doesn’t have its own legislation,” said Ruth Salmon, the executive director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA). Salmon and Jeremy Dunn, the BC Salmon Farmers Association’s executive director, both say the system in place, coming under provincial and federal jurisdiction, is inefficient and outdated. They cite as examples fishing licences, which last for only one year even though salmon can take up to two years to farm, and the confusion arising from having both the provincial Ministry of Agriculture and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans independently oversee specific industry guidelines.

 

Genome research has been a boon for unravelling the mysteries surrounding autism, allowing scientists to identify around 100 altered genes associated with the neurodevelopmental disorder. But genome research has also compounded the puzzle of autism. Those who display the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may carry the same number of genetic mutations as their unaffected siblings. One person with ASD will carry mutations totally different from the next, and half of those diagnosed will have none of the known mutations at all. “There are no common patterns,” says Stephen Scherer, director of the Hospital for Sick Children’s Centre for Applied Genomics. The new research, published in the journal Nature Genetics, suggests that autism begins to develop in the womb. It will help clinicians diagnose ASD earlier — hugely important, since autism is easier to treat the earlier it is caught.

 

Isotope maker Nordion sale faces final hurdle with shareholders

25-MAY-2014 01:51 PM   Richard Blackwell, The Globe and Mail

Nordion Inc., the Canadian medical isotope provider with a long and storied history, is about to become part of an American company. Created almost seven decades ago as the radium sales department of Eldorado Mining and Refining Ltd., Nordion took over the sale of radioisotopes from the nuclear research facility at Chalk River, Ont., before becoming part of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. in the 1950s. It was part of MDS Health Group for two decades before being spun off as a standalone public company in 2010. And if shareholders give their okay at a meeting in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nordion will move into its next phase – as the subsidiary of a U.S. company based in Chicago.

 

Canadian astronomers hope for spectacular meteor shower

22-MAY-2014 01:48 PM   Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail

Astronomers are gearing up for some celestial fireworks when Earth hurtles through a curtain of space dust a million kilometres thick later this week. Although predictions range widely, the result may be an exceptionally good meteor shower in the wee hours of May 24, just when Canada has a front-row seat. “I’m hopeful this is going to be one for the top ten list,” says Paul Wiegert, an astronomer at the University of Western Ontario. Meteors, sometimes called shooting stars, appear as glowing specks of light that streak rapidly across the night sky. They are caused by small bits of interplanetary debris, from pea-size rocks to powder-size specks, that tear into the atmosphere, usually at speeds well above 50,000 kilometres per hour, and burn up while still high above Earth’s surface.

 

Group wants probe of B.C. salmon farms

22-MAY-2014 01:44 PM   Mark Hume, Vancouver — The Globe and Mail

Officials at an environment commission established under the North American free-trade agreement are calling for an investigation into whether Canada is enforcing pollution laws around salmon farms in British Columbia. In a statement released Thursday, the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation said there are grounds to investigate complaints “that Canada is failing to effectively enforce fish habitat protection and pollution prevention provisions … in relation to salmon aquaculture operations authorized by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in coastal B.C.” The CEC’s three-member governing council – which is made up of the highest-ranking environmental officials of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. – now has until Aug. 12 to vote on whether to accept the secretariat’s recommendation.

 

Le traité transatlantique ne fait pas grand bruit aux É.-U. (French)

22-MAY-2014 01:04 PM   Jeremy Tordjman, La Presse

 

Ministers say salmon not being restored in Fraser River

21-MAY-2014 01:34 PM   Mark Hume, Vancouver — The Globe and Mail

Almost none of the 75 recommendations B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen made on how to restore sockeye stocks in the Fraser River have been acted on by Ottawa, two federal ministers indicate. Critics have long accused the government of failing to follow up on the $26-million Cohen Commission report in a meaningful way. But it wasn’t until Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay recently asked detailed questions about which recommendations were adopted that the government verified the extent of its actions.

 

Des coupes en santé sont possibles (French)

24-MAY-2014 10:22 AM   Claude Lafleur, Le Devoir

Tags Health

Comme tout le monde, Daniel Boyer, président de la Fédération des travailleurs du Québec (FTQ), se demande comment le nouveau gouvernement parviendra à remettre d’aplomb notre système de santé.

 

The made-in-Canada problem facing nuclear medicine

26-MAY-2014 10:18 AM   Kelly Crowe, CBC News

Albert Mann winced as he sat upright on the scanner bed to talk to me. A large camera had just processed an image of his body, reading the gamma rays radiating from his bones. I asked him what he had to do to prepare for this test. "What did I have to do? Get cancer," he said.

 

Toronto, ON – A new letter from the Canadian government reveals it is trying to undermine NAFTA’s Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to stop an investigation into the lack of enforcement of the federal Fisheries Act pertaining to leaking toxic liquid waste from tar sands tailings lakes. “This letter is the latest in a dangerous pattern of the federal government systematically attacking anything that gets in the way of its reckless plans for tar sands expansion,” says Hannah McKinnon of Environmental Defence. “The government has muzzled scientists, gutted environmental laws, shut the public out of pipeline hearings, attacked environmental organizations, abandoned other international treaties, and now it is attacking the respected CEC for doing what it is mandated to do – look into the pollution of our water.”

 

Departments holding onto ATIPS: documents

21-MAY-2014 09:03 AM   Annie Bergeron-Oliver, iPolitics

Tags Health

Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault’s wrist slap over Canada’s access to information regime seems to have done little to spur change in the intervening months, new documents indicate. The information commissioner raised concerns last year that the country’s access to information system was broken and in need of desperate repair. Complaints were up nine per cent, and departments were short-staffed, waiting up to six months before even responding to request, Legault found in her most recent annual report. But ahead of the release of the Commissioner’s 2013-2014 report, parliamentary documents appear to show the landscape has not changed. Order paper documents released earlier this month show numerous federal government departments are holding onto access to information requests for more than 120 days, and are routinely requesting three to six month extensions.

 

Climate change plan due in September: Hancock

21-MAY-2014 09:00 AM   Karen Kleiss and Erika Stark, Edmonton Journal and

EDMONTON - Alberta’s strategy to address climate change and carbon emissions could become clearer in September, with the release of a new climate change plan and potential renewal of the provincial carbon tax rules. Premier Dave Hancock said that with carbon levy regulations set to expire Sept. 1, provincial leaders are debating how to move forward. “The in situ (oilsands) operators would argue that they’ve done a lot of technological improvements and they’re not really on the verge of another breakthrough at the moment, so what is their innovation opportunity to get reduction? They don’t see one right now,” Hancock said.

 

Nanoparticle exposure test developed by Canadian scientists

21-MAY-2014 08:56 AM   Emily Chung, CBC News

Tags Health

Canadian researchers have developed the first test for exposure to nanoparticles — new chemical technology found in a huge range of consumer products — that could potentially be used on humans. Warren Chan, a University of Toronto chemistry professor, and his team developed the skin test after noticing that some mice changed colour and others became fluorescent (that is, they glowed when light of certain colours were shone on them) after being exposed to increasing levels of different kinds of nanoparticles. The mice were being used in research to develop cancer treatments involving nanoparticles. The research by Chan and his team is in a recent issue of the journal Nature Communications.

 

Peter MacKay should heed evidence, not eliminate it: Editorial

20-MAY-2014 03:13 PM   The Star, Editorials

Tags Funding

Of all the many parts of the federal justice budget, the Conservative government has found exactly the wrong one to cut. A Canadian Press report last week revealed that in April, $1.2 million was removed from the department’s research budget – 20 per cent of the total. As a result, eight researchers have lost their jobs. The dual purpose of the cut, in the convoluted, vaguely ominous words of Justice Minister Peter MacKay: “To ensure that we bring value to hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars” and that “research is … undertaken to obtain information to support priorities of government.” But if the government wants to reduce the justice budget it ought to heed the evidence, not eliminate it. Since the Conservatives took power in 2006, justice spending has risen by more than 30 per cent, even as the crime rate has continued its steady, two-decade-long, largely demographics-driven decline.

 

Climate change research shows pockets of warming around world

20-MAY-2014 08:53 AM   Margo McDiarmid, CBC News

The world is getting warmer, but it's not happening at same pace around the globe, according to research by scientists at Florida State University. The research also suggests the greatest warming is happening in a swath of the world including Canada. The team of four scientists used new techniques to measure the short- and long-term fluctuations in land and surface air temperatures from the year 1900 onward. This let them show for the first time in more detail how different regions around the world have different rates of warming and, in some cases, cooling.

 

This spring most Canadian corn and soybean growers will be planting another crop of pesticide-coated seeds, even as researchers raise new warnings that the practice may have deadly side effects for bees and other wildlife. The heated debate around the use of the neonicotinoid-coated seeds, developed by Bayer CropScience and introduced here about a decade ago, has divided farmers, beekeepers and scientists, and turned Canada into a kind of environmental battlefront. To protect its bees, Europe banned the use of neonic pesticides last year, while U.S. authorities have so far taken a more cautious approach, saying these pesticides are just one possible factor in the collapse of so many bee colonies. Bayer filed a court challenge against the EU ban in August last year, saying the EU has wrongly linked the pesticide to bee deaths.

 

Lac-Mégantic: Suppressing the Truth Behind Regulatory Failure

20-MAY-2014 08:45 AM   Bruce Campbell, National Newswatch

Tags Regulation

Last week, 10 months after disaster struck the town of Lac-Mégantic, Québec government prosecutors laid criminal charges against three front-line employees of Montréal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA). Each suspect, paraded publicly in handcuffs in a classic U.S. style “perp walk,” was charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death. Residents reacted with disbelief at the travesty of the bankrupt MMA, which was also charged and only faces fines if convicted. Its senior executives, directors, and owners have escaped prosecution while the three employees face life behind bars. For those hoping to achieve justice through the criminal courts, this is a cautionary tale.

 

HOWARDS COVE - A Howards Cove seafood processing plant has not had its registration renewed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). A CIFA spokesperson said Red Cove seafood processing was allowed to resume operations following an earlier suspension on April 14 under ongoing inspection by CFIA. On May 8, CFIA decided not to renew Red Cove’s registration. Red Cove Seafood Products Inc. in Howard’s Cove was given the first new lobster processing licence in more than a decade on April 30 this year.

 

VANCOUVER -- The mountains of British Columbia cradle glaciers that have scored the landscape over millennia, shaping the rugged West Coast since long before it was the West Coast. But they're in rapid retreat, and an American state-of-the-union report on climate change has singled out the rapid melt in British Columbia and Alaska as a major climate change issue. "Most glaciers in Alaska and British Columbia are shrinking substantially," said the U.S. National Climate Assessment, released last week to much fanfare south of the border. "This trend is expected to continue and has implications for hydropower production, ocean circulation patterns, fisheries, and global sea level rise."

 

WOODY POINT, N.L.—On a cold, clear Newfoundland morning last week, a man slicked neck to toe in whale grease read aloud from a sort of shopping list. The man covered in grease was Burton Lim, assistant curator of mammalogy at the Royal Ontario Museum. The wish list was from Jack Lawson, a marine mammal research scientist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. And they were “shopping” from the exposed abdominal cavity of a subway-car-length, 100-plus-tonne dead blue whale. The whale had floated to the shore of Trout River, Newfoundland, two weeks ago, bloated with gas, captivating the world with the threat it might explode. It didn’t. But after the ROM gained permission to take the whale’s skeleton back to Ontario, the gods of gross-out news handed reporters a new gift.

 

Quand la guerre du climat se fait devant les tribunaux (French)

16-MAY-2014 11:20 AM   Agence Science-Presse

Et c’est du coup un soulagement pour les universitaires, toutes disciplines confondues, dont la liberté d’expression aurait été mise à mal s’il s’était avéré que leurs correspondances privées relevaient du domaine public. Le jugement, rendu le 17 avril par la cour supérieure de l’État de Virginie, conclut que les courriels du climatologue Michael Mann sont de propriété privée parce qu’en lien avec des recherches académiques, et ne relèvent donc pas de la loi de la Virginie sur l’accès à l’information — qui s’adresse aux organismes gouvernementaux ou relevant de l’État. La poursuite avait été déclenchée, il y a trois ans, par l’American Tradition Institute (ATI), un organisme dénoncé à l’époque pour ses « attaques personnelles contre les climatologues », par l’Association américaine pour l’avancement des sciences.

 

$3.2M forest research lab being built in Sussex

16-MAY-2014 08:17 AM   CBC News

Tags NRC Forestry

A $3.2-million forest research lab being built in Sussex is expected to create better quality, insect-tolerant, resilient seedlings for planting across the region. It could lead to higher-value Canadian planted trees and much faster regeneration of managed forests, federal, provincial and J.D. Irving Limited officials announced on Friday. Rob Moore, minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, spoke at the research lab announcement in Sussex on behalf of federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford. (Brian Chisholm/CBC). The new facility, which will be operated by Maritime Innovation Limited, a division of JDI, will produce four million seedlings a year by the plant reproduction method called somatic embryogenesis (SE).

 

Life expectancy in Canada and other countries around the world is growing, according to a new report from the World Health Organization, with most of the progress apparent in low-income countries. In Canada, average life expectancy for males born in 2012 is 80 and for females 84, the agency said in Thursday’s report, World Health Statistics 2014. In comparison, males born in Canada in 1990 could expect to live to 74 and females to 81 on average.

 

Ottawa’s new pipeline rules may address B.C.’s demands

14-MAY-2014 11:11 AM   Mark Hume and Justine Hunter, Vancouver & Victoria

A day after announcing new safety measures for tankers, the federal government has introduced tougher regulations for pipelines, taking a “big step” toward meeting British Columbia’s requirements for approving projects to the West Coast. Under the changes, the National Energy Board will be given increased regulatory control over the 73,000 kilometres of pipeline that transport more than $100-billion worth of oil, gas and petroleum products across Canada each year. The new regulations, announced Wednesday by Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford and Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, require the NEB to increase the number of oil and gas pipeline inspections by 50 per cent annually and to double the number of yearly safety audits.

 

Researchers say farmed salmon escapes aren't being tracked by DFO

14-MAY-2014 11:05 AM   George Baker, CBC Television

Fisheries and Oceans Canada have not been adequately tracking escapes Atlantic salmon, says a new report from the University of Victoria's Environmental Studies department. George Baker brings us this story.

 

Canadians Have a Bright Future in Innovative Healthcare

14-MAY-2014 11:02 AM   Russell Williams, Huffington Post - Politics

One of Canada's biggest economic opportunities is to find solutions that will result in a greater number of Canadian ideas making it into the marketplace. Innovation -- the creation of a new product, new service or an improved way of doing something better than something that existed before -- is essential to create jobs into today's knowledge economy and ensure our future. Although Canada is the world's 11th biggest economy, according to the latest data from the World Intellectual Property Organization we rank 19th in the total number of direct resident trademark applications -- so we clearly have potential to strengthen our performance.

 

The struggle to keep the Experimental Lakes Area

14-MAY-2014 10:55 AM   Thomas Hall, Wildlife – Canadian Geographic

The lakes allow scientists to study the impact of pollutants on entire ecosystems, and, since opening in 1968, have provided reams of invaluable data. But for the past two years the ELA has been making headlines for reasons other than research. “It was May 17, 2012, the day that changed so many of our lives,” says Diane Orihel, who at the time was a visiting University of Alberta graduate student who’d been working at the ELA on and off for a decade. She remembers seeing the facility’s scientists as they made their way to the meeting where Fisheries and Oceans Canada officials announced that the ELA’s federal funding would be cut. At first she was shocked. Then she acted. “I felt like I needed to be a voice for the muzzled scientists in the room,” she says. Familiar with the ELA’s research, politics and, unlike the full-time scientists who worked there, not an employee of the federal government, she was well positioned to speak her mind.

 

The announcement caused outrage in the international science community, among journalists and the general public. The Harper government, bewildered that there would be such widespread support for an obscure low-budget field station, quickly changed its story: they would be seeking a new operator for the site. Only one such operator showed interest: the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Winnipeg-based think tank. Negotiations between DFO and IISD began in the autumn of that year. March 31, 2014 was set as a target date for an agreement.

 

Les casseurs de science (French)

13-MAY-2014 10:44 AM   Valérie Borde, L’Actualité

Quand donc nos politiciens vont-ils arrêter de nuire à la science et à l’innovation en changeant sans cesse les structures gouvernementales qui en sont responsables ? Déjà, en 1986, le défunt Conseil de la science et de la technologie critiquait, dans son rapport de conjoncture (pdf), le remaniement fréquent des structures des politiques scientifique et technologique depuis qu’elles avaient été mises sur pied au Québec, à la fin des années 1970. La perception d’une instabilité permanente des institutions gouvernementales responsables de la politique scientifique et technologique risque d’engendrer une confusion et à terme, une perte de crédibilité auprès des représentants des milieux industriels et universitaires et même auprès des gestionaires de la fonction publique.

 

L’exploitation d’uranium comporte des risques (French)

13-MAY-2014 10:41 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

La coalition Québec meilleure mine estime qu’une nouvelle étude produite par l’Institut national de la santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) met en lumière «de nombreux risques, impacts et incertitudes» liés à l’exploitation d’uranium. La publication de cette étude, passée relativement inaperçue, survient à quelques jours du début de l’étude de la filière uranifère par le Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement. Le document de plus de 300 pages conclut essentiellement qu’il existe énormément d’incertitudes quant aux impacts sur la santé humaine imputables à l’exploitation d’une mine d’uranium. Une bonne part de ce flou tient au fait qu’il existe très peu de données permettant d’évaluer correctement les effets potentiels des éléments radioactifs.

 

It's time we trusted scientists on global warming

13-MAY-2014 10:36 AM   Michael Gerson, Calgary Herald

Science has its own explanation for why people are often resistant to scientific beliefs. In evolutionary theory (assuming you believe such a thing), our intuitions about the physical world are generally accurate on a human scale - calculating the proper force and trajectory to hit a mammoth with a spear. But on matters that are not immediately related to our survival - say, on quantum motion, or the nature of black holes - our intuitions are pretty much useless. Science has often advanced in an uphill fight against common intuitions. Resistance to evolution in America is often associated with conservative religion. And skepticism about climate change is correlated with libertarian and free-market beliefs.

 

Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt

12-MAY-2014 10:33 AM   Justin Gillis and Kenneth Chang

A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries. Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet, though other factors may also be involved, the scientists said.

 

Canada’s national energy regulator is spending months, and in some cases years, tied up in discussions and paperwork with Canadian pipeline companies that break federal rules, according to its own records. The National Energy Board has the power to prosecute or impose fines, but in several recent cases involving spills, ruptures or inadequate infrastructure, the records — including investigation reports, audits and correspondence — show that the board generally responded to incidents with warnings or orders to restrict pipeline pressure and fix defects.

 

Internal survey blasts feds for missing database: long form census

11-MAY-2014 10:19 AM   Dean Beeby, The Canadian Press

Tags Census Funding

The Conservative government has touted the thousands of databases it is making public as proof of its openness and transparency. But key data users in a Treasury Board survey complained about one giant database that has actually disappeared: the long-form census, killed by the Harper government in 2011 and again for the 2016 census. Treasury Board President Tony Clement has repeatedly rebuffed complaints the government is opaque about information, citing in part its Open Government Action Plan, which includes the web posting of 200,000 data sets available for free download on data.gc.ca.

 

All Science Is Wrong, Concludes Esteemed Fox News Panel

09-MAY-2014 10:07 AM   Jonathan Chait, New York Intel

There is no issue where educated ignorance is on more perfect display than watching the conservative movement confront scientific evidence of climate change. George F. Will and Charles Krauthammer are two of the intellectual giants of the right, former winners of the Bradley Foundation’s $250,000 annual prize, Washington Post columnists, and Fox News All-Star panelists. On their Fox News All-Star Panel appearance this week, both men discussed the U.S. National Climate Assessment, which they dismissed with various irritable mental gestures. Their evasions and misstatements, clothed in faux-erudition, offer a useful entrance point to study the current state of the right-wing mind. What follows is an annotated analysis of Will and Krauthammer’s remarks, the intellectual quality of which starts off low, and grows increasingly and even frighteningly so as the program progresses. After a brief introduction of the climate report.

 

Washington sonne l’alarme (French)

07-MAY-2014 10:04 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Un nouveau rapport du gouvernement américain vient confirmer que les changements climatiques ont déjà des impacts significatifs sur le territoire du deuxième émetteur de gaz à effet de serre de la planète. Les dommages associés aux bouleversements du climat « devraient devenir de plus en plus perturbateurs à travers le pays au cours de ce siècle et au-delà », prévient aussi ce document intitulé National Climate Assessment. Mais déjà, les effets se font sentir dans différentes régions du pays. C’est notamment le cas en Alaska, un État qui « s’est réchauffé deux fois plus vite que le reste des États-Unis », note le rapport, en pointant des « changements majeurs aux écosystèmes » dus à la disparition des glaciers, ainsi que des « dégâts aux infrastructures » avec le dégel du pergélisol.

 

Scientists discover ancient nine-kilometre-wide crater in Alberta

07-MAY-2014 10:01 AM   Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail

Tags Space

Scientists are reporting a newly discovered impact crater in southern Alberta. The crater is so large that creatures standing 200 kilometres away (on the site of present-day Calgary, for instance) would have received first-degree burns from the explosion that created it. “It would have been roughly 200 times the energy released in the largest-ever nuclear blast,” said Doug Schmitt, a geophysicist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

 

StatsCan can't get good data on small areas, report says

07-MAY-2014 09:31 AM   Jason Fekete, Postmedia News

Tags

Canada's main survey on job openings across the country is often unreliable and regularly does not provide an accurate employment picture for governments and the private sector, the federal auditor general says in a new report on Statistics Canada. The federal government has already come under fire for relying on what opposition parties say is sketchy data about the jobs market in Canada. The Conservatives, until recently, had been using job vacancy information from classified websites such as Kijiji to help identify labour needs and whether temporary foreign workers were required in certain sectors.

 

Minister unveils whistleblower legislation

06-MAY-2014 09:24 AM   The Western Star

Tags Muzzling

Public Engagement Minister Steve Kent finally took the wraps off whistleblower legislation. Public Engagement Minister Steve Kent speaks to reporters about new whistleblower legislation. Kent called it a "new and very significant" law, which will protect public servants who see wrongdoing on the job. Any public employee can make a report if they see something criminal, unsafe, or something that's a "gross mismanagement" of public resources. Public servants go to the Office of the Citizen's Representative to make the complaint, and then the province's ombudsman will investigate the situation. The act also puts in place a mechanism for employees to get satisfaction through the Labour Relations Board if they feel like there's been reprisal because they made a whistleblower report.

 

Group calls on NEB to revise Kinder Morgan hearing proceedings

06-MAY-2014 09:24 AM   Mark Hume, Vancouver — The Globe and Mail

National Energy Board restrictions on who can participate in the Kinder Morgan pipeline review are being challenged by a group of people who say they have been robbed of their right to free speech. In a notice of motion, the NEB is being asked to reject as unconstitutional recent federal legislative changes to the National Energy Board Act that limit public participation in hearings on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal. “As a result, NEB hearings have lost their essential purpose. If the public cannot be heard, the public interest cannot be assessed,” said David Martin, legal counsel to the applicants.

 

Health regulation update aims to reduce disease at fish farms

06-MAY-2014 09:19 AM   Michael Gorman, Herald News

The fisheries and aquaculture minister says an update of the province’s health regulations for fish farms will increase information for department staff as the industry develops. A call for proposals was issued this month that would see an extensive, yearlong review and update with the aim of controlling disease pathogens of fish and establishing steps to prevent or control disease outbreaks. “We’re trying to set a new standard for the industry and make sure we have the documentation to back it up,” said Keith Colwell.

 

L’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) a décrété lundi un état « d’urgence de santé publique de portée globale » à la suite de la propagation de la poliomyélite dans plusieurs pays. « Si elle n’est pas contrôlée, la situation pourrait mettre en échec l’éradication globale d’une des maladies les plus graves que l’on puisse empêcher par la vaccination », souligne le communiqué. L’OMS estime que les foyers potentiels de pandémie sont le Pakistan, le Cameroun et la Syrie, et demande aux autorités locales de mener des campagnes de vaccination pour ceux qui doivent voyager.

 

NEB figures show oil exports by rail up 900 per cent

06-MAY-2014 08:59 AM   Lauren Krugel, Calgary — The Canadian Press

Tags Energy

New National Energy Board figures show that oil-by-rail exports have risen more than 900 per cent in less than two years, but that’s still far behind what’s moving by pipeline – and by what the stalled Keystone XL alone aims to carry. The Canadian energy regulator’s numbers, released Monday, show that more than 146,000 barrels a day were exported on trains to the United States in the past three months of 2013, compared with just under 16,000 in the first three months of 2012. But in all of 2013, less than 5 per cent of Canada’s 2.6 million barrels a day of crude oil exports moved by rail, according to a separate NEB report released in March.

 

Something is wrong in Canada

06-MAY-2014 08:55 AM   Hans Rollmann, The independent.ca

Warming waters. Coastal erosion. Erratic fish behaviour patterns. If climate change is becoming an increasingly potent reality, in a country whose government has by all appearances dedicated itself to the pursuit of oil and to stifling environmental activism, what will be the actual consequences for everyday Canadians? Or, as O’Neill Yates put it: “Who’s going to pay the price?” […]. Yet at a time when the risks to Canadians are becoming more pronounced, the federal government has been systematically dismantling its own ability to analyze and respond to that risk. By eliminating the mandatory long-form census, by attempting to defund vital climate change research facilities, by transferring public research dollars to the whims of corporate industry (by stacking research granting councils with political and corporate appointees, for instance), and by curtailing scientists’ free speech, the federal government is shutting down Canada’s first line of defense against the risks of a world undergoing rapid change.

 

Health emergency declared over global resurgence of polio

05-MAY-2014 02:08 PM   Margaret Munro, Postmedia News

Tags Health

A crippling disease that had almost been eradicated is on the move prompting the World Health Organization to declare the spread of polio an international public health emergency. The resurgence threatens to unravel a nearly three-decade effort to eradicate polio, which can lead to partial and sometimes fatal paralysis. WHO’s declaration that polio is now a “public health emergency of international concern” is extraordinary, only the second time the UN agency has given such a designation; the first was prompted by the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009. While the risk to Canadians is low, the Public Health Agency of Canada advises people travelling to affected countries to ensure they’re vaccinated.

 

Managers at Health Canada admitted that changes to the department's library services would lead to risks to the department's credibility and its ability to produce evidence-based decisions, according to documents obtained by CBC News. The managers' concerns have one observer saying that if the federal health minister doesn't reverse the changes, "she's putting Canadians at serious risk." The Access to Information documents reveal management's point of view during a number of changes that saw staff cut, the physical library moved across town to a National Research Council facility and scientists forced to use a new computer system called Infotrieve to get research material.

 

Le mauvais train (French)

05-MAY-2014 08:34 AM   Jean-François Nadeau, Le Devoir

Tags

Combien de fois le scénario de Lac-Mégantic se répètera-t-il ? La semaine dernière encore, à Lynchburg, en Virginie, une ville de 80 000 habitants, des flammes ont léché le ciel après que des wagons de pétrole brut eurent explosé à proximité de la rivière James. La fumée noire corbeau était visible à des kilomètres à la ronde tandis que le pétrole gluant s’agrippait à la terre. Au Dakota du Nord, le 30 décembre 2013, quelque 1,5 million de litres de brut se sont répandus depuis des wagons-citernes renversés. Le 13 janvier 2014, à Plaster Rock au Nouveau-Brunswick, d’autres wagons-citernes ont flambé durant des jours, forçant l’évacuation du village. Au Canada, 144 accidents ferroviaires mettant en cause des matières dangereuses ont été rapportés en 2013.

 

When it comes to LNG, Clark is out to deliver – but at what cost?

04-MAY-2014 09:10 AM   Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail – Vancouver

When the Council of Canadian Academies examined the impact of shale-gas development on the environment, researchers found a disturbing shortage of data on issues of deep concern to British Columbians. The gas industry, which Premier Christy Clark is selling this week in a trade mission to Asia, is booming in B.C. There are currently 13 liquefied natural gas plants proposed and if they go ahead, up to 6,000 new wells could be drilled to supply them. But what will the development of all those wells, pipelines and processing plants mean in terms of environmental impact?

 

Ces ondes omniprésentes dans nos vies (French)

03-MAY-2014 01:49 PM   Pauline Gravel, Le Devoir

Tags Health

Absolument personne n’y échappe sur la planète. Autant à l’intérieur de nos habitations que dans le fond de la campagne, nous sommes tous exposés aux champs électromagnétiques engendrés par les radiofréquences émises par les tours de téléphonie cellulaire, les antennes de radiodiffusion (télévision et radio), les téléphones cellulaires, ainsi que les bornes Bluetooth et Wi-Fi donnant accès à des réseaux Internet sans fil. Alors que ces différentes sources d’émissions se multiplient dans notre environnement, plusieurs redoutent leurs effets sur la santé. La science nous démontre qu’il n’y a pas lieu de s’inquiéter dans les conditions actuelles.

 

Même si les océans sont indissociables du paysage canadien, plusieurs scientifiques estiment que le gouvernement Harper a tout simplement décidé de leur tourner le dos en supprimant des pans entiers de la recherche sur ces milieux fragilisés. « Pêches et Océans Canada n’a plus la moindre expertise en science environnementale dans le domaine de la contamination et de la protection des habitats marins contre la contamination », résume et déplore Émilien Pelletier, titulaire de la Chaire de recherche du Canada en écotoxicologie marine à l’Université du Québec à Rimouski. Ottawa a effectivement imposé des compressions majeures au ministère chargé de veiller à la santé des océans qui bordent les côtes canadiennes. En plus des dizaines de postes supprimés à travers le pays, le gouvernement a fermé cinq laboratoires de Pêches et Océans, dont celui de l’Institut Maurice-Lamontagne de Mont-Joli. Il se consacrait précisément à l’écotoxicologie.

 

La vraie nature des radiofréquences (French)

03-MAY-2014 11:38 AM   Pauline Gravel, Le Devoir

Tags Health

La nature des interactions qui ont lieu entre les ondes électromagnétiques et l’organisme humain dépend de la fréquence de ces ondes, soit le nombre d’oscillations par seconde. Plus cette fréquence est élevée, plus les ondes, ou les particules auxquelles elles sont associées en vertu de la dualité onde-particule décrite par la mécanique quantique, sont dotées d’énergie. Ainsi, les ondes de très hautes fréquences, telles que les rayons gamma émis par les substances radioactives, les rayons X et les ultraviolets, possèdent suffisamment d’énergie pour arracher un électron aux atomes et casser une liaison chimique, voire « changer la chimie du corps et causer le cancer », souligne le physicien Normand Mousseau de l’Université de Montréal. C’est pourquoi on les dénomme « rayonnements ionisants ».

 

Government Nurtures Innovation

02-MAY-2014 11:32 AM   Government Nurtures Innovation

But that’s exactly what Manzi has done in a new and important essay in the spring issue of National Affairs — an essay that is getting widespread attention. Titled “The New American System,” Manzi’s essential point is that American innovation — the key to our prosperity — has always relied, to some extent, on government support. In the early days of the republic, he writes, Alexander Hamilton proposed government help for the developing manufacturing industries — “the high-tech sector of its day.” Hamilton’s basic insight, he adds, was “that the enormous economic value that innovative industries could offer the nation merited public efforts to enable their success.”

 

Rapport alarmant sur l'extraction du gaz de schiste (French)

02-MAY-2014 09:05 AM   Martin Croteau, La Presse

À la demande de l'ancien ministre de l'Environnement, Peter Kent, le Conseil des académies canadiennes s'est penché sur l'impact de l'extraction par fracturation hydraulique. Son rapport final, publié hier matin, conclut que les effets de cette technique sont, somme toute, méconnus. Ses auteurs appellent les autorités à mieux surveiller cette industrie. «Les affirmations de l'industrie concernant ses prouesses technologiques ou les affirmations du gouvernement selon lesquelles les effets environnementaux sont acceptables ne seront pas suffisantes pour obtenir l'acceptation du public, peut-on lire dans le document. Pour ce faire, il faudra assurer une surveillance transparente et crédible des incidences environnementales.»

 

10 Health stories that mattered this week

02-MAY-2014 08:53 AM   Canadian Medical Association Journal

The dangers of fracking to the environment and human health have not been properly monitored or considered, according to a report by a panel of 14 international experts, commissioned by Environment Canada. The extent of potential risks, such as natural gas entering the water supply or from chemicals used during fracking, cannot be assessed because of a lack of information, states the report.

 

Canada extends search for new lab director

01-MAY-2014 11:09 AM   Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - The federal government has made some changes to its eyebrow raising job posting for the position of head of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory. The revised posting drops the requirement that the lab director must be bilingual and is extending the period of time candidates have to apply, Dr. Gregory Taylor, the acting head of the Public Health Agency of Canada said in an interview Thursday. He also said the agency would appoint a small advisory committee to help it find the right candidate, and would seek advice from the former director, Dr. Frank Plummer. The members of the committee haven't yet been selected, he said, but insisted they would be "top-flight individuals."

 

A rising tide: the case against Canada as a world citizen

01-MAY-2014 11:27 AM   Chris David Simms, The Lancet Global Health

A generation ago, Canada was perceived to be an exemplary global citizen by the rest of the world: it took the lead on a host of international issues, including the Convention of Child Rights, freedom of information, acid rain, world peacekeeping, sanctions against South Africa's apartheid regime, and humanitarian and development assistance—much of this under conservative leadership. During recent years, Canada's reputation as a global citizen has slipped, in recent months more precipitously than ever before, and in new directions. The Climate Action Network1 recently ranked Canada 55th of 58 countries in tackling of greenhouse emissions. Results of other analyses2 show a government systematically removing obstacles to resource extraction initiatives by gutting existing legislation, cutting budgets of relevant departments, and eliminating independent policy and arms-length monitoring bodies.

 

Politicians go on the attack after scientists call for more research into fracking

01-MAY-2014 11:08 AM   Peter O'Neil and Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun

OTTAWA — Deputy Premier Rich Coleman challenged Thursday the conclusions of a scientific panel into the environmental effect of shale gas development using fracking. The group of Canadian and U.S. scientists, appointed in 2011 by former federal environment minister Peter Kent to examine the sector’s potential and risks across Canada, urge a cautionary, go-slow approach until more research is done on a relatively new sector. Coleman, responsible for an industry that Victoria considers an economic linchpin for decades, said the B.C. industry is advanced and a model for the world.

 

Fisheries Act changes include too much power: Myers

01-MAY-2014 11:05 AM   Teresa Wright, The Guardian

Tags Fisheries

Opposition Leader Steven Myers raised concerns Tuesday about an amendment made to the Fisheries Act that grants Fisheries minister power to issue processing licences to ineligible applicants. P.E.I.’s infamous Ocean Choice deal expired earlier this month, and when it did, Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley was finally given authority to issue new seafood processing licences — even to applicants who are ineligible. Opposition Leader Steven Myers raised concerns Tuesday about an amendment made to the Fisheries Act during a cabinet meeting on April 15.

 

War on science seems a reality

01-MAY-2014 11:03 AM   Dan Lett, Winnipeg Free Press

One of the world's most accomplished HIV-AIDS researchers, Plummer's departure after 13 years is a blow to both the lab and to Winnipeg, which has fought valiantly to create and maintain a centre of excellence in infectious diseases. Just as worrisome for scientists is the very real possibility Ottawa may replace Plummer with a less qualified and thus less expensive person: possibly even someone who does not have a medical degree.

 

De nouveaux fonds pour mieux comprendre l'autisme et l'Alzheimer (French)

01-MAY-2014 08:47 AM   La Presse Canadienne, Montréal

Tags Funding Health

Le gouvernement fédéral s'associe à des fondations privées pour accroître le financement de la recherche sur l'autisme et la maladie d'Alzheimer, notamment. Le premier ministre Stephen Harper en a fait l'annonce, jeudi à Montréal, entouré de représentants de la famille Chagnon, de la Fondation Azrieli et de la Fondation Neuro Canada. Cette injection de fonds permettra de lancer cinq nouveaux projets de recherche visant à mieux comprendre les troubles du spectre de l'autisme, le syndrome de l'X fragile, la maladie d'Alzheimer et d'autres troubles connexes pour améliorer le traitement et la prévention.

 

Access to information among concerns in CJFE Review of Free Expression in Canada

30-APR-2014 02:50 PM   Grant Buckler, The Canadian Journalism Project

Tags Muzzling

In the past year Canadians have lost even more of their ability to know what their government is doing and why, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) said in its 2014 Review of Free Expression in Canada. The Review—the fifth one CJFE has published annually to coincide with World Press Freedom Day on May 3—also raises concerns about muzzling of government scientists, harassment of journalists in Quebec, restrictions on union advocacy in Alberta and other freedom of expression issues.

 

La résistance aux antibiotiques n'est plus une menace, mais une «réalité», avertit l'Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) qui craint que des infections considérées aujourd'hui comme mineures ne puissent à nouveau tuer. Un nouveau rapport alarmiste de l'OMS, le premier portant sur la résistance aux antimicrobiens à l'échelle mondiale, affirme que «cette grave menace n'est plus une prévision, mais bien une réalité dans chaque région du monde, et que tout un chacun, quels que soient son âge et son pays, peut être touché». Les antibiotiques sont considérés par l'OMS comme un des piliers de notre santé, nous permettant de vivre plus longtemps et en meilleure santé. Mais leur usage inapproprié les a rendus quasiment inefficaces en quelques décennies.

 

What experts say we don’t know about shale gas

30-APR-2014 02:18 PM   Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail

When it comes to understanding the hazards associated with the shale gas boom in Pennsylvania, Bernard Goldstein doesn’t mince words. “We’re racing ahead without seriously thinking through how best to do this,” said Dr. Goldstein, a professor of Environmental and Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh and one of the authors of a new report on the environmental impacts of shale gas extraction in Canada. Dr. Goldstein’s chief worry is that the pace of the industry has left environmental and public-health experts in this state scurrying to keep up. And those experts are finding themselves chronically short of the kind of data that would allow them to say with confidence what effects the industry may or may not be having.

 

A report from a panel of top Canadian scientists is urging a go-slow approach to the booming industry of hydraulic natural gas fracking. So little is known about the long-term impacts of extracting gas by fracturing rock beds with high-pressure fluids that scientists and regulators need to start now to understand how to develop the resource safely and cleanly, said co-author Rick Chalaturnyk, an engineering professor at the University of Alberta. "Perhaps cautionary is the right philosophy," he said. "We really do stand a chance to put in place the regulatory framework to answer the questions around environmental impact."

 

Ottawa rejects union's claim that food is unsafe

30-APR-2014 10:56 AM   By Peter O'Neil, Postmedia News- The StarPhoenix

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose accused Canada's largest public-sector union Tuesday of irresponsibly undermining Canadians' confidence in the safety of their food. The union alleged last week that federal job cuts have left consumers vulnerable to ripoffs and tainted food. "The union's portrayal is not accurate and irresponsibly undermines public confidence in the knowledge that the food on their dinner table is safe," she told Postmedia News in a statement.

 

New York et Chicago interdisent les cigarettes électroniques (French only)

29-APR-2014 02:13 PM   Associated Press, Le Devoir

Tags Health

De nouvelles lois adoptées à New York et à Chicago interdisent les cigarettes électroniques dans les bars, les restaurants et les autres endroits publics. Les interdictions entrées en vigueur mardi sèment la controverse parmi les responsables de la santé publique, l'industrie de la cigarette électronique et les usagers, quant à l'avenir du produit.

 

DFO scientist warns of health hazards posed by decomposing whales

29-APR-2014 10:53 AM   Gary Kean, The Western Star

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says it will likely be up to the local and provincial governments to find a way to dispose of rotting blue whale carcasses on the shorelines near Trout River and Rocky Harbour. There are now three of the mammoth marine mammals beached in the vicinity, including one on the beach near Bakers Brook just north of Rocky Harbour. Jack Lawson, a research scientist with DFO's marine mammals section, said the onus usually falls to the municipality — if it is affected — and then the province.

 

AECL privatizing 2,850 jobs at Chalk River

30-APR-2014 10:51 AM   Ian MacLeod, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Almost 3,000 federal AECL jobs at Chalk River are to be privatized, leaving employees worried and the venerable Crown corporation a shadow of its former self, according to the government’s restructuring plan. The move to a “government-owned contractor-operated” (GoCo) business model for Canada’s largest scientific research establishment is expected to strip almost all of the 2,850 Chalk River employees of their federal jobs, pension plan eligibility and other public service benefits. Sometime next year, their employment is to be transferred to an as-yet unknown private-sector company that is to assume control of Chalk River Laboratories, the last significant piece of the former Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. powerhouse that helped pioneer the global nuclear industry.

 

Federal government spends $9.2M on rail crossing safety

28-APR-2014 10:45 AM   The Canadian Press, Metro News

MILTON, Ont. – The federal government says it will spend $9.2 million this year to improve safety at railway crossings. The money is being made available as part of a cost-sharing agreement with railways and governments that have authority over local roads. Transport Canada says the improvements could include installing flashing lights and bells, gate barriers and other devices at crossings.

 

About 300 people protested today to denounce the construction of a port in Cacouna, near Rivière-du-Loup, for shipping oil from the Alberta tar sands. Under the Energy East pipeline project, the TransCanada company has already obtained the approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conduct drilling in the marine area of Bas-Saint-Laurent. About a dozen organizations planned the event, including Nature Québec, Greenpeace and the Quebec Association Against Air Pollution. They say they want both Ottawa and Quebec to further analyze the project before allowing TransCanada to go forward.

 

Ottawa only interested in science that supports its own priorities

26-APR-2014 10:39 AM   Ross A. Klein, The Telegram

It is easy to be wowed by the federal government’s claims that it is a great supporter of science and research, particularly university science and research — given its many announcements of funding and new programs. But it is important to take a closer look at what is actually happening. First, the total amount of funding for the granting councils, which provide the support for most of the fundamental research in Canada, has decreased substantially since the Harper government budgets began rolling out.

 

Scientists cite energy East pipeline threat to belugas

25-APR-2014 10:35 AM   Shawn McCarthy, The Glode and Mail Ottawa

Marine scientists in Quebec are raising alarms that TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East pipeline project will threaten falling beluga populations in the St. Lawrence River. TransCanada is conducting seismic activity near Cacouna, Que., on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from the mouth of the Saguenay River. Belugas are believed to calve in the Cacouna area in the late spring and early summer. Three leading marine researchers wrote a letter this week to Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, complaining that seismic activity and other planned work pose a serious threat to the St. Lawrence belugas.

 

Getting science wrong, with dire consequences

25-APR-2014 09:23 AM   Hans Rollmann, The independent.ca

Barb Neis is no stranger to the challenges of living along Canada’s rural and coastal margins. A sociologist by trade, her work in Newfoundland and Labrador has included extensive research on the fishery, on occupational health and safety, on migrant workers (including interprovincial workers), and more. What is strange to her is the growing – and troubling – tendency of the federal government to interfere in the ability of herself and other experts to conduct the research they’re trying to do, research which they hope will help improve lives and reduce the vulnerability of Canadian residents to social and environmental risks. Yet according to many, political interference in the funding and carrying out of basic scientific research is reaching a crisis point in Canada, and it’s the topic of an innovative town hall meeting happening in St. John’s on Monday night.

 

Federal cuts mean the end of Canada’s world-class Cereal Research Centre

23-APR-2014 10:20 AM   Marc Montgomery, Radio Canada International

Tags Funding

To most Canadians the name Cereal Research Centre means virtually nothing, but to grain farmers across the country, the CRC is an extremely well-known and important institution. The research station will close this month as part of government austerity measures. It marks the end of almost a century of scientific effort by the publicly-funded CRC and other research stations which have provided most of Canada’s cereal crop varieties in a multi-billion dollar grain industry. The Cereal Research Centre has long focussed on wheat and oat breeding to improve cereal quality and resistance to disease, insects, and climate conditions.

 

À quelques semaines de l’approbation probable du projet de pipeline Northern Gateway, le gouvernement Harper vient d’éliminer une mesure de protection environnementale qui aurait pu retarder le transport de pétrole des sables bitumineux vers la côte ouest. Un autre exemple de copinage avec l’industrie pétrolière, selon le NPD et les groupes environnementaux. Dans un décret publié samedi dans la Gazette du Canada, Ottawa a ordonné de retirer à la baleine à bosse du Pacifique Nord son statut d’espèce « menacée », en vertu de la Loi sur les espèces en péril (LEP). Sa situation est désormais considérée comme « préoccupante ».

 

Government needs to help with rising health-care costs

23-APR-2014 08:44 AM   Editorial Staff, Moose Jaw Times Herald

Tags Funding Health

A recent Statistics Canada Report — Trends in out-of-pocket health-care expenditures in Canada, by household income, 1997-2009 — noted one in 10 Canadians cannot afford to pay for their prescription drugs. According to the report, lower income-earning families are bearing the brunt of the expanded costs of health-care. In 1997, the average Canadian household paid $631 in medical expenses annually. Jump ahead to 2009 and those costs have jumped up to $1,030. In 2014, those numbers are sure to be even higher.

 

Canada phasing out antibiotic use in livestock

11-APR-2014 08:45 AM   Margaret Munro, Postmedia News

Amid growing international concern over the spread of superbugs on farms, slaughterhouses and supermarket meat counters, Health Canada is moving to phase out use of antibiotic growth promoters in Canadian livestock. The drugs have been used for decades to spike the feed and water of chickens, pigs and cattle to boost their growth — “mass medication” that Canada’s top doctor, and many others, has said should stop. In a statement Friday, Canadian drug producers say they have agreed with Health Canada “to phase out uses of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion.” The phase-out is expected to take three years.

 

Le retour du printemps n’a pas seulement remis en circulation du pétrole qui s’était déposé au fond de la rivière Chaudière à la suite de la catastrophe de Lac-Mégantic. Depuis une semaine, des millions de litres d’eau contaminée ont aussi été pompés sur le site même de la tragédie ferroviaire. Selon ce qu’a précisé mercredi au Devoir un porte-parole du ministère de l’Environnement, Paul Benoît, «de six à sept millions de litres d’eaux huileuses» ont ainsi dû être récupérés au cours des derniers jours. Ces millions de litres d’eau contaminée par le pétrole sont pompés à partir des «tranchées de récupération» aménagées pour éviter la migration de la pollution. L’eau est ensuite acheminée vers une unité de traitement sur place, ou encore à un bassin de rétention construit pour contenir les grands volumes de liquides récupérés lors de la fonte ou lorsqu’il pleut.

 

Researcher hopes work on invasive species will make a difference

23-APR-2014 08:42 AM   Cory Hurley, The Western star

Scott Caines has been studying the waters of the Bay of Islands for invasive species, and he has found reason for concern. There are seven species recognized as invasive in Newfoundland and Labrador waters and three of these have been introduced to the west coast of island. Globalization is being credited with the exponential increase in introduction through the voyages along oceanic vessels — with aquaculture and the aquarium trade recognized as contributers.

 

Union warns of reduced meat inspections, more food fraud in Vancouver

22-APR-2014 08:39 AM   Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – Canada’s food safety system is being pushed beyond its limits, warns the union representing federal food inspectors, which singles out Vancouver area-consumers as potentially the most at risk. Some $35 million and 192 inspectors are on the food safety program’s chopping block over the next two years, according to online documents posted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The agency has also disbanded a team of inspectors dedicated to protecting consumers from food fraud throughout Metro Vancouver. The Consumer Protection Unit once boasted 11 inspectors, but that number dwindled to four due to attrition.

 

Dimanche dernier, l'émission Découverte, de la chaîne publique Radio-Canada, proposait le document « Science et pouvoir: le bâillon » qui traite des compressions dans la science fédérale, où chercheurs et scientifiques affectés se vident le cœur et livre une mise en garde à la population. Ce reportage est largement inspiré du documentaire de la CBC Fifth Estate "Silence of the Labs", paru en janvier dernier. Extra : Témoignage de Claude Rouleau, écotoxicologue de l'IML congédié suite au RÉ. « La science, c'est l'essence de toutes nos connaissances, le point de départ de tous les progrès, de la santé à l'habitat. Elle était jadis indépendante de la politique publique, mais au Canada, tout ne tourne pas rond dans ce domaine. D'un littoral à l'autre, et même aux limites de l'Arctique, la science qui ne sert pas les objectifs politiques est marginalisée ou mise au rancart. »

 

Government reduces whale protection

22-APR-2014 08:30 AM   Peter O'Neil, The StarPheonix

The Harper government is downgrading the protection of the North Pacific humpback whale despite objections from a clear majority of groups that were consulted. Critics say the whales could face greater danger if two major oilsands pipeline projects get the go-ahead, as both would result in a sharp increase in movement of large vessels on the West Coast that occasionally collide with, and kill, whales. The decision was made under the Species At Risk Act, and declares the humpback a "species of special concern" rather than "threatened." The reclassification means the humpback no longer will be "subject to the general prohibitions set out in SARA, nor would its critical habitat be required to be legally protected under SARA," said the federal government notice published this month in the Canada Gazette.

 

Canadian chicken farmers are putting an end to controversial egg injections, which provided the world with a “textbook” example of the perils of mass medication. By injecting eggs at hatcheries with ceftiofur, a medically important antibiotic, the farmers triggered the rise of resistant microbes that showed up in both chickens and in Canadians creating a “major” public health concern. The case – documented by federal and provincial sleuths who track microbes at farms, slaughterhouses and retail meat counters – is held up as powerful evidence of resistant superbugs moving from farm to fork. “It is going to be in medical textbooks for as long as there are textbooks around,” says John Prescott, a professor with the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.

 

As Canada dawdles, Denmark shows the world how to stop mass medicating animals

18-APR-2014 02:58 PM   Margaret Munro, Postmedia News

COPENHAGAN, Denmark — Michael Nielsen unlocks the door to his pig factory. He doffs his jacket, pants and muddy boots and zips on white coveralls. Then he steps into the maze-like complex housing several thousand pigs. From the birthing room — where one enormous sow has just delivered 22 squirming piglets — to the insemination stalls where the next generation is in the works, Nielsen prides himself on smart, efficient farming. Here in Denmark that means recording every single dose of antibiotic farmers use. Unlike Canadian farmers who can import antibiotics by the truckload, Nielsen can only obtain them by prescription at a pharmacy. Use too many antibiotics and Nielsen would get a dreaded “yellow card” from the Danish government that has the world’s most comprehensive surveillance system for tracking and targeting overuse of antibiotics.

 

151 Prescription drugs under safety investigation in Canada

15-APR-2014 02:57 PM   Recovery Network: Toronto

Toronto Star has published a list of 151 prescription drugs undergoing safety investigations in 2o13. The Star obtained the information only after persistently bugging officials at Health Canada. With a remarkable example of doublespeak, up till now Canada’s drug safety authority though the best way to keep us safe was to keep this information secret from both the individuals who put these drugs in their bodies and from the Doctors who prescribe them. Quite why Health Canada ever thought this was their role is yours to guess and ask. Maybe they reasoned that the mass panic ensuing from making the information available would cause us all to ask for motte drugs in such a rush that Docs would run out of prescription pads.

 

Kinder Morgan’s pipeline studies may contravene park-research permit

11-APR-2014 02:52 PM   Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail

Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. is conducting pipeline studies in B.C. parks under a permit that was issued at a time when any research was supposed to be focused on gathering scientific knowledge to help better manage protected areas. The permit falls in a grey area because while research related to potential industrial projects would be permitted in parks under new legislation – which passed just two weeks ago – Kinder Morgan got authorization last November. At that time, the regulations stated that research in parks “must contribute to the scientific knowledge of the protected area(s).”

 

Cleaning up contaminated sites to cost billions more than expected: PBO

10-APR-2014 02:49 PM   Steve Rennie, Cumberland News Now

OTTAWA - Cleaning up nearly 25,000 sites across the country contaminated by hazardous waste and pollution will cost billions of dollars more than the federal government has anticipated, says a new analysis by Canada's budget watchdog. And the cost could run even higher now that a new chemical used in fire-retardant foam has been found in the groundwater at some airports, says the report by the Parliamentary Budget Office released Thursday. "The likely financial costs associated with contaminated sites are significant and are not reflected in the figures reported to Parliament in the public accounts," says the report.

 

Le directeur parlementaire du budget estime que la décontamination des milliers de sites un peu partout au pays coûtera 2,1 milliards de dollars supplémentaires, soit deux fois plus cher que ce qu'Ottawa avait prévu. Les auteurs du rapport estiment à 3,9 milliards le coût total des dépenses d'assainissement du gouvernement; ils fondent leur analyse sur les données relatives aux 22 000 sites répertoriés dans l'inventaire fédéral établi par le Conseil du Trésor. Ottawa a la responsabilité de ces sites. « Les coûts probables associés aux sites contaminés sont significatifs et ne sont pas reflétés dans les chiffres rapportés au Parlement dans les comptes publics. De plus, les coûts pourraient augmenter à cause de formes de contamination qui ne sont pas encore identifiées », indique le Bureau du directeur parlementaire du budget.

 

Ottawa physicist collects another international prize for pioneering work

08-APR-2014 02:45 PM   Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen

Tags Innovation

OTTAWA — Ottawa physicist Paul Corkum has just picked up yet another big international prize, and his university says the people who win this one often wind up with the Nobel itself. Corkum teaches physics at the University of Ottawa and also works at the National Research Council. He uses incredibly short flashes of laser light to capture the movement of electrons in molecules. Corkum can send these light pulses in bursts measured in attoseconds. There are a billion, billion attoseconds in one second.

 

No Big Risk, Feds Promise

08-APR-2014 02:11 PM   Blacklock’s Reporter

New use of pesticides by fish farmers will pose no “unacceptable risk” to the environment, promises Health Canada. However a member of a Senate committee noted the department has already been cited for failing to protect habitat. “I get the impression there is a lot of confusion with respect to aquaculture generally,” said Senator Thomas McInnis (Conservative-N.S.); “Is everything just fine?” The Senate fisheries committee is studying regulation of aquaculture including permitted use of chemicals in lake and ocean pens. “Pesticides are inherently a hazardous substance,” said Jason Flint, director of Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency; “A registration under the Pest Control Products Act will only be granted if these assessments show the product can be used safely.”

 

Produire du pétrole grâce à l'océan (French only)

07-APR-2014 02:08 PM   Radio-Canada avec Agence France-Presse

Des chercheurs de la marine américaine ont réussi à transformer de l'eau de mer en carburant, en partant de l'idée que les hydrocarbures, dont fait partie le pétrole, sont composés de carbone et d'hydrogène, présents en grande quantité dans l'eau de mer. En capturant le dioxyde de carbone (CO2) et l'hydrogène contenus dans l'océan, les scientifiques sont arrivés à produire un kérosène de synthèse utilisable dans les moteurs de navires ou d'avions. Après neuf ans de travail sur le sujet, les chercheurs du Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) ont démontré la viabilité du concept en parvenant à faire voler un modèle réduit d'avion avec ce type de carburant.

 

Drugs reviews mostly stay secret

03-APR-2014 02:05 PM   Diana Zlomislic, Toronto Star

Health Canada is keeping secret the vast majority of the drug reviews it conducts despite a clear promise from the federal minister to publish this critical safety information. Only 24 of 152 drug reviews completed last year by Health Canada are being considered for public release, the Toronto Star has learned. The drug safety reviews that will be open to the public are those triggered by alarms raised by foreign regulators, medical or scientific literature or Health Canada’s routine monitoring activities. “We thought they were rolling out a Mercedes, turns out it’s a Vespa,” said Dr. David Juurlink, a clinical pharmacologist and drug safety researcher at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

 

Climat : on peut s’adapter, mais vite! (French only)

03-APR-2014 02:02 PM   Ève Christian, Radio-Canada

Les changements climatiques ne sont vraiment pas une vue de l’esprit. L’année qui vient de se terminer le prouve encore. Selon l’Organisation météorologique mondiale (OMM), c’est la sixième année la plus chaude de l’histoire, ex aequo avec 2007. La température moyenne était de 14,5 degrés, 0,5 degré de plus que la normale calculée pour la période de 1961-1990, et 0,03 degré de plus que la décennie 2001-2010. D’ailleurs, cette dernière décennie a battu tous les records des trois dernières décennies, qui ont été toutes plus chaudes les unes que les autres. En fait, 13 des 14 années depuis le début du nouveau siècle sont parmi les plus chaudes. De vastes territoires ont enregistré des records de chaleur, dont l’Australie et le centre de l’Asie et de l’Afrique.

 

OTTAWA — It turns out that scientists are like pop music fans: They want access online to all their favourite material, but they have trouble paying for it. A new survey of Canadian scientists puts it a little more formally: “Researchers agree with principle, not cost, of open access,” it says in a headline. So, what’s “open access”? It’s a system that is turning the way scientists share knowledge on its head. The science world revolves around its journals, thousands and thousands of them.

 

Les directives proposées par Santé Canada quant aux niveaux de radiofréquences pouvant être émis sans danger par les téléphones cellulaires et autres technologies de communication sans fil sont adéquates et permettent d’assurer une protection convenable de la population, conclut un rapport d’experts. Ces derniers recommandent toutefois de poursuivre activement les recherches visant à vérifier si une faible exposition aux radiofréquences peut participer à l’apparition du cancer. Ils soulignent également l’urgence d’éclaircir la question de l’hypersensibilité électromagnétique dont se plaignent plusieurs citoyens.

 

The National Energy Board has come under fire for restricting the number of people permitted to participate in the review process for the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in British Columbia. More than 2,100 individuals, aboriginal groups, companies and organizations applied to participate in the coming hearings, which will examine the suitability of a project that will twin an existing line, increasing capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of oil per day.

 

De la science dans les élections: pour quand? (French only)

02-APR-2014 11:48 AM   Agence Science-Presse

Sans surprise, la science n’a pas été un enjeu de la campagne électorale québécoise. Mais que ni la santé ni l’environnement n’en aient fait partie non plus, voilà qui surprend un peu. À moins que ça ne fasse désormais partie de l’ordre naturel des choses? L’an dernier, nous avions interviewé Anne Glover, conseillère scientifique du président de l’Union européenne, qui avait résumé le fait que science et politique semblent appartenir à deux planètes différentes, par ces mots: «les scientifiques adorent l’incertitude, les politiciens la détestent». Deux façons de travailler, deux façons d’appréhender le monde, deux objectifs divergents.

 

Produire des carburants grâce au carbone contenu dans des résidus forestiers, agricoles ou domestiques est une idée prometteuse. Ces biocarburants de 2e génération, générés à partir de matières non comestibles, offrent un grand potentiel pour le Québec et le Canada. À terme, leur production permettrait d’éviter de diriger une partie du carbone vers les sites d’enfouissement. Toutefois, les chercheurs ont beaucoup de pain sur la planche pour en arriver à proposer des méthodes permettant de déployer la production de biocarburants à grande échelle, et surtout, à coût raisonnable. Spécialiste de la question, Jean-Michel Lavoie dirige la Chaire de recherche industrielle en éthanol cellulosique et en biocarburants de seconde génération. Ce professeur de la Faculté de génie proposait une conférence le 28 mars, durant la Quinzaine du développement durable.

 

An expert panel’s review of Canadian safety limits for exposure to radio waves such as those produced by cellphones and wireless devices says there is no reason to change existing standards. The independent panel was convened by the Royal Society of Canada at the government’s request to review scientific evidence relevant to proposed changes to Health Canada’s Safety Code 6, which deals with exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy – or radio waves. The panel released its report on Tuesday.

 

VANCOUVER — Tom Pedersen sounds almost upbeat about climate change, putting a positive spin on the decidedly gloomy subject. “You must never lose hope,” says Pedersen, executive director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at the University of Victoria in B.C., who foresees a “brighter, smarter” future for the planet. There is no question the world is facing enormous threats as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations group, made clear once again this week. “If the world doesn’t do anything about mitigating the emissions of greenhouse gases and the extent of climate change continues to increase, then the very social stability of human systems could be at stake,” Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said as the report was released.

 

Tensions are rising on a remote stretch of British Columbia’s Central Coast, where a commercial herring fleet is gathering to fish in an area long closed because of conservation concerns. Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea overruled her own staff recently in deciding to allow fishing this spring, but as the opening approaches, First Nations are increasingly demanding that the fishery be called off. “We actually had an emergency community meeting last night on how we are going to deal with this,” Doug Neasloss, resource stewardship director of the Kitasoo band, said Monday in an interview from Klemtu, B.C.

 

Violent conflicts and threats to the territorial integrity of some of the world’s most vulnerable countries are among the more ominous risks posed by an ever-warming planet, according to the UN organization given the task of assessing the impacts of climate change. In a report that for the first time includes human security in its review of how global warming will be experienced around the world, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lists outcomes such as the displacement of populations, food shortages and economic shocks that are triggered or exacerbated by rising temperatures. “If the world doesn’t do anything about mitigating the emissions of greenhouse gases and the extent of climate change continues to increase, then the very social stability of human systems could be at stake,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, at a news briefing in Yokohama, Japan, where the report was released.

 

Science-based Decisions – In Whose Interest?

28-JAN-2014 11:28 AM   Anonymous, National Farmers Union

Governments and farm organizations tell us over and over again that decisions made on our farms and by government regulatory agencies must be 'science-based'. Entwined with this adherence to 'science-based' decision making is a demand that we accept that science is absolute and unbiased – that it is never-changing and is never influenced by the interests of funders of the research. Our understanding of our world and of our own farms, however, is ever-changing. Yesterday's knowledge leads us to new discoveries today, which will lead to new understandings tomorrow. Scientific knowledge can never be absolute since if we are open to learning it can constantly lead us to new discoveries and to new knowledge. As evidence we need only look at seed; from the time farmers started collecting and replanting seeds to grow food and feed, we have been actively adding to our collective, ever-changing knowledge of science and of plant breeding.

 

Un rapport conclut à l'innocuité des «compteurs intelligents» (French only)

01-APR-2014 11:11 AM   Jean-François Cliche, Le Soleil

Tags Health

(Québec) Malgré tout le boucan qui entoure les «compteurs intelligents» et les antennes cellulaires, rien ne permet de croire qu'ils sont nocifs ou que les normes canadiennes actuelles sont trop laxistes, conclut un rapport d'experts divulgué mardi matin.

 

Tandis qu’on épluche les rapports d’impôt des politiciens, l’actualité scientifique dévoile ces jours-ci deux bombes qui risquent d’influencer plus lourdement nos vies que ces politicailleries : la biologie synthétique et le second chapitre du cinquième rapport du Groupe intergouvernemental d’experts sur le climat (GIEC).

 

Réchauffement climatique : le GIEC sonne à nouveau l'alarme (French only)

31-MAR-2014 11:07 AM   Valérie-Micaela Bain, Radio-Canada

Le réchauffement climatique mondial représente une menace croissante pour la santé, les perspectives économiques, de même que pour l'alimentation et les ressources en eau douce de milliards d'habitants, selon le dernier rapport du Groupe d'experts intergouvernemental sur l'évolution du climat (GIEC).

 

Les Canadiens de certaines régions du pays pourraient faire face à des pénuries de lits et à une hausse du coût des médicaments, à la suite de l'expiration, lundi, de l'accord fédéral-provincial sur la santé, prévient un groupe de défense des soins de santé.

 

Le retour du mammouth (French only)

29-MAR-2014 11:00 AM   Manon Cornellier , Le Devoir

Ottawa — Les conservateurs n’ont pas pu résister. Ils ont encore transformé leur dernier budget en projet de loi omnibus, un fourre-tout qui amende une trentaine de projets de loi, la plupart n’ayant rien à voir avec le budget. (…)

 

Ottawa officialise le péage du futur pont Champlain (French only)

10-APR-2014 10:57 AM   Marie Vastel , Le Devoir

Après avoir martelé pendant des mois que ce serait «pas de péage, pas de pont», le gouvernement de Stephen Harper vient ainsi de rendre officiel son mantra.

 

De ces pénuries impromptues de médicaments (French only)

26-MAR-2014 10:55 AM   Thomas Duchaine, Université de Laval

Tags Health

Du Ritalin aux injectables en passant même par la pénicilline, les pénuries de médicaments sont fréquentes au Québec et au Canada. Pourquoi? Et surtout, y-a-t-il des solutions? Nous pouvions lire dans les médias le 26 février dernier qu’une pénurie de Ritalin était en cours au Québec.

 

New natural resources minister invested in hedge fund with energy holdings

24-MAR-2014 10:53 AM   Glen McGregor, Calgary Herald

Tags Energy

New Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford holds investments in an elite hedge fund that trades securities in the energy sector he will now oversee. According to his conflict of interest disclosure, Rickford owns an unspecified number of units in the Waratah One Fund, an investment vehicle administered by Toronto firm Waratah Advisors.

 

Fewer science officers on public lands

24-MAR-2014 10:51 AM   Cam Fortems, Kamloops This Week

The Professional Employees Association, which represents 2,500 people who work for the provincial government, has released a report showing its membership declined 19 per cent in the past five years.

 

America’s Underappreciated Entrepreneur: The Federal Government

23-MAR-2014 10:34 AM   Teresa Tritch, The New York Times

Imagine a world in which the United States government — not the private sector — is the economy’s indispensable entrepreneur, innovating at the frontiers of science and technology, able and willing to take risks and to persevere through uncertainty.

 

Canada falling behind on innovation

23-MAR-2014 10:32 AM   Mariana Mazzucato, The Toronto Star

While we tend to celebrate private entrepreneurship, the state is crucially important in driving and shaping innovation. The question of which economies will thrive and which will lag behind on innovation has a lot to do with sound public policy.

 

Guerre à la science (French only)

21-MAR-2014 10:30 AM   Isabelle Burgun, Agence Science Presse

«La liberté de la science contribue à une démocratie forte. Coupures, fermetures de bibliothèques et de laboratoires, licenciement et ingérence, les politiques actuelles diminuent notre capacité à bâtir de solides connaissances scientifiques», dénonce Katie Gibbs

 

Recent media reports have described the closing of federal science libraries dealing with fisheries, forests and health as well as the absurd lengths to which government scientists have had to go to obtain documents that they require in their work.

 

L’univers naissant (french only)

21-MAR-2014 02:57 PM   Mario Roy, La Presse

Tags Space

L'astrophysicien Stephen Hawking avait engagé un pari avec un collègue, Neil Turok, directeur du Perimeter Institute, un organisme de recherche ontarien (le célèbre scientifique britannique est en effet un parieur invétéré). Or, il y a quatre jours, il a apparemment gagné: on a bel et bien détecté des ondes gravitationnelles générées par le Big Bang, il y a près de 14 milliards d'années.

 

The Alward government is being accused of muzzling its scientists and ignoring their advice in moving ahead with a new Crown lands policy that allows for a 21 per cent increase in cutting softwood in public forests. Green party Leader David Coon and a former wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are raising the concerns as the debate about the new policy continues to rage more than a week after it was unveiled.

 

25 years later, Exxon Valdez spill effects linger

20-MAR-2014 02:53 PM   Dan Joling, The Toronto Star

Twenty five years later, most of the species have recovered but some wildlife, as well as the people who live in the region, are still struggling.

 

The Day the Earth Moved: Canada’s Muzzled Researchers

20-MAR-2014 02:51 PM   Mary Frary, Social Science Space

Tags NRC

On Wednesday 24 June 2010 in Ottawa, office workers returning from their lunch breaks were surprised to feel the earth move beneath their feet. People in the city immediately suspected an earthquake, though they are relatively rare in the region. As might be expected, reporters at newspapers in the city contacted Natural Resources Canada to find out what was going on. The journalists were surprised to discover that government seismologists told them they were unable to speak about it. Meanwhile, the US Geological Survey was giving out plenty of information.

 

Greg Rickford’s appointment as the federal natural resources minister could signal a change in tone as the government tries to overcome opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline and other energy and mining projects. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Rickford was taking over the natural resources portfolio from Joe Oliver, who has become the finance minister following Jim Flaherty’s surprise resignation.

 

Greg Rickford takes Natural Resources at crucial moment

19-MAR-2014 02:45 PM   Alex Boutilier, The Toronto Star

Newly minted Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford gives the Harper government a new face on the energy portfolio as a number of key projects hang in the balance. Prime Minister Stephen Harper promoted the Kenora MP from a junior minister to one of the most important and sensitive portfolios in the Conservative government in a mini cabinet shuffle Wednesday. Rickford replaces Joe Oliver, who was moved to finance after the surprise departure of Jim Flaherty on Tuesday. The move gives the Conservatives a chance to change the tone of debate surrounding a number of large-scale pipeline and mining projects; a debate that turned toxic at times under Oliver’s watch.

 

Echoes of Walkerton in Environment Canada cuts

19-MAR-2014 02:43 PM   Thomas Duck, The Toronto Star

Albert Einstein’s well-known definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is unsettlingly relevant to a new round of federal government cuts. The latest slashing of Environment Canada, which by 2016 will have half the budget it had in 2007, calls to mind a series of deep cuts to environmental protections in Ontario in the late 1990s. Some of the players are even the same, so they cannot reasonably claim to be ignorant of the tragic consequences.

 

The appointment of amiable backbencher Ed Holder as Minister of State for Science and Technology is not expected to inflame the testy relationship between the Conservative government and many members of Canada’s scientific community. But neither is Mr. Holder’s elevation to the junior cabinet portfolio being read by the scientists – who have complained of closed research facilities, muzzled scientific staff, and scientific evidence being ignored – as a sign that Prime Minister Stephen Harper may become more conciliatory.

 

Changes to scientific funding at the federal level are taking their toll on the work done in some University of Western Ontario research labs. Christopher Pin — an associate professor in the university’s department of pediatrics, oncology, and physiology and pharmacology — has experienced the repercussions first-hand as grants available through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) shrink.

 

La Garde côtière canadienne a indiqué mercredi qu’elle envoie davantage de brise-glace pour aider à dégager le passage dans les Grands Lacs et la Voie maritime du Saint-Laurent. Évoquant les pires conditions de glace en 20 ans, la Garde côtière a affirmé qu’il est trop tôt pour déterminer à quel moment les navires de transport du grain et d’autres produits de base seront en mesure de traverser les corridors commerciaux habituels. L’Association des constructeurs de navire canadiens avait déploré mardi qu’un manque de brise-glace retarderait les livraisons de grain des Prairies et d’autres marchandises, incluant le minerai de fer, des matériaux de construction et des produits pétroliers.

 

UK Budget sees boosts for data science, graphene an cell therapy

19-MAR-2014 02:35 PM   Richard Van Noorden, Nature

British scientists already know that their public funding for the next two years is frozen at £4.6 billion (US$7.6 billion) annually (as it has been since 2010, which for the nation’s seven research-grants agencies has meant a 10% cut in real terms over the past three years), so they did not expect anything transformative from today’s budget. Right on cue, UK chancellor George Osborne continued his trend of throwing small crumbs of funding to science and technology — £222 million additional cash over the next five years — while at the same time failing to announce either long-term support for basic science or a strategy to develop UK industrial research, both of which are sorely needed, say science-policy experts.

 

Seven Steps Back for Canada’s Natural Defence

19-MAR-2014 02:32 PM   Chris Wood, The Tyee

Canada once was an active environmental leader, helping coax other nations into such landmark international measures to protect the planet as the Montreal Protocol to defend the ozone layer. That was then. This is now. Canada walked away from the Kyoto Protocol in 2011. Now, the Montreal Protocol appears to be one of seven important international conventions to prevent the spread of hazardous toxins and other pollutants that the Conservative government quit "engaging" on in recent years.

 

Obama Turns to Web to Illustrate the Effects of a Changing Climate

19-MAR-2014 02:29 PM   Coral Davenport, The New York Times

President Obama wants Americans to see how climate change could deluge or destroy their own backyards — and to make it as easy as opening a web-based app. As part of an effort to make the public see global warming as a tangible and immediate problem, the White House on Wednesday inaugurated a website, climate.data.gov, aimed at turning scientific data about projected droughts and wildfires and the rise in sea levels into eye-catching digital presentations that can be mapped using simple software apps. The project is the brainchild of Mr. Obama’s counselor, John D. Podesta, and the White House science adviser, John P. Holdren.

 

Les gouvernements doivent prendre garde, dans leurs efforts d’assainissement des finances, de ne pas aggraver les problèmes d’inégalité et de fracture sociale qui se sont accélérés avec la Grande Récession, prévient l’OCDE. La plupart des indicateurs de qualité de vie sont toujours en berne dans les pays développés, notamment en matière de revenu des ménages, d’emploi des jeunes, de partage de la richesse, de dépenses en éducation, et même en matière de taux de fécondité.

 

Des physiciens américains ont annoncé lundi avoir détecté les toutes premières secousses du Big Bang, confortant ainsi cette théorie de la naissance de l’univers il y a près de 14 milliards d’années, une avancée majeure en physique. Cette première détection de ces ondes gravitationnelles primordiales, prévues dans la théorie de la relativité d’Albert Einstein, confirme l’expansion extrêmement rapide et violente de l’univers dans la première fraction de seconde de son existence, une phase appelée l’inflation cosmique.

 

Early in his career, a scientist named Mario J. Molina was pulled into seemingly obscure research about strange chemicals being spewed into the atmosphere. Within a year, he had helped discover a global environmental emergency, work that would ultimately win a Nobel Prize. Now, at 70, Dr. Molina is trying to awaken the public to an even bigger risk. He spearheaded a committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, which released a stark report Tuesday on global warming. The report warns that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be dire, and that the window to do something about it is closing.

 

Lac-Mégantic: 1/16e de la puissance d'Hiroshima (French only)

18-MAR-2014 02:09 PM   Jonathan Custeau, La Tribune

«Si un jour je vais en enfer, je saurai à quel point c'est chaud!» Tels ont été les mots du directeur du Service de protection contre les incendies de Sherbrooke (SPCIS) Gaétan Drouin pour décrire l'intensité de la boule de feu qu'il a dû combattre à Lac-Mégantic, le 6 juillet 2013. «La force des explosions représentait 1/16e de la puissance d'Hiroshima, illustre-t-il encore. Un incendie d'hydrocarbures comme celui-là était du jamais vu en Amérique du Nord. C'était d'une ampleur telle... Je sens encore l'odeur du pétrole sur le site. Réussir à éteindre un incendie d'une telle ampleur dans un délai de 12 à 14 heures, ça veut dire que les gens ont travaillé très fort sur le terrain. Nous avons utilisé une quantité de mousse astronomique, soit 8000 gallons, pour procéder à l'extinction.»

 

Scientists map seafloor for future offshore drilling

17-MAR-2014 02:06 PM   Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison, Northern Journal

Canadian researchers, in partnership with scientists from the USA and Korea, are busy laying the groundwork for exploratory offshore drilling in the Beaufort Sea. More than 100 scientists, technicians and crew members took part in a Canada-Korea-USA Arctic research expedition in September, whose preliminary findings were presented to a crowd of more than 30 at Aurora College in Inuvik last Wednesday. Their main goal: to ensure offshore drilling happens in a safe and responsible way.

 

Scientists are often thought to be mild-mannered, introverts who are most comfortable toiling away in anonymity in the comforts of their laboratory, but this stereotype is being challenged as Canada’s scientific researchers step out of their labs and into national headlines.

 

A Memorial University researcher says marine conservation efforts often miss the mark because they don't target areas truly under threat. In a study published in the journal Aquatic Conservation, Rodolphe Devillers says protection is often granted in areas where it won't inconvenience fishing and other industrial activities — a method he says is at odds with preserving wildlife. Meanwhile, regions that house at-risk species as well as fishing or industrial operations are frequently neglected because governments fear the economic and political costs of interfering with business, he says.

 

Feds plan more ‘transformation’ at National Research Council

17-MAR-2014 10:30 AM   Chris Plecash, The Hill Times

The federal government plans to continue with its business-focused transformation of the National Research Council in 2014, according to briefing notes prepared for Minister of State for Science and Technology Greg Rickford, while the agency’s latest plans and priorities forecast a nearly 10-per-cent drop in staffing at the agency over the next year.

 

Cosmic Bulletins: Two Major Discoveries Rock Science

17-MAR-2014 10:28 AM   Michael D. Lemonick, Time

Nearly a century ago, Einstein came up with the idea of gravitational waves. Now, in a discovery that physicists are calling "extraordinary" and "spectacular," observers at the South Pole have found the first direct evidence they exist.

 

L'Institut de l'énergie du Nouveau-Brunswick investira plus de 500 000 $ dans une étude sur les eaux souterraines afin d'évaluer les répercussions possibles du développement des gaz de schiste sur la qualité de l'eau des puits des particuliers. Le président intérimaire de l'organisation, David Besner, a affirmé lundi que les citoyens s'inquiètent de l'impact du développement des ressources sur leur approvisionnement en eaux souterraines. Il a fait valoir que ces données scientifiques doivent contribuer à mieux comprendre les enjeux sur la qualité de l'eau.

 

Billionaires with big ideas are privatizing American science

16-MAR-2014 10:20 AM   William J. Broad, New York Times

Last April, President Barack Obama assembled some of the nation's most august scientific dignitaries in the East Room of the White House. Joking that his grades in physics made him a dubious candidate for "scientist in chief," he spoke of using technological innovation "to grow our economy" and unveiled "the next great American project": a $100 million initiative to probe the mysteries of the human brain.

 

Concerns Over Measurement of Fukushima Fallout

16-MAR-2014 09:43 AM   David McNeill, The New York Times

In the chaotic, fearful weeks after the Fukushima nuclear crisis began, in March 2011, researchers struggled to measure the radioactive fallout unleashed on the public. Michio Aoyama’s initial findings were more startling than most. As a senior scientist at the Japanese government’s Meteorological Research Institute, he said levels of radioactive cesium 137 in the surface water of the Pacific Ocean could be 10,000 times as high as contamination after Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear accident. Two months later, as Mr. Aoyama prepared to publish his findings in a short, nonpeer-reviewed article for Nature, the director general of the institute called with an unusual demand — that Mr. Aoyama remove his own name from the paper.

 

The Harper government's plan for Environment Canada, the department tasked with coordinating the country's environmental policies and programs, involves millions of dollars in cuts and hundreds of job losses over the next three years. The cuts are outlined in a newly-released 2014/15 report on plans and priorities for the department, along with government rhetoric that promises "a clean, safe and sustainable environment while supporting economic prosperity."

 

Scientists Baffled over Fukushima Radiation Found in Park in B.C., Canada

14-MAR-2014 09:31 AM   Esther Tanquintic-Misa

Tags

Radioactive activity from Fukushima has reached Fraser River Valley in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. Although the scientists uncovered very low levels of cesium-134 in the soil, they remain baffled as to how it arrived in the area.

 

A radioactive metal from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan has been discovered in the Fraser Valley, causing researchers to raise the alarm about the long-term impact of radiation on B.C.’s west coast. Examination of a soil sample from Kilby Provincial Park, near Agassiz, has for the first time in this province found Cesium 134, further evidence of Fukushima radioactivity being transported to Canada by air and water.

 

Fish Farm Pesticides Closer

14-MAR-2014 10:35 AM   Blacklock’s Reporter

A federal law deemed a “critical impediment” to aquaculture by the Department of Fisheries has been assigned to Environment Canada. The transfer is seen as a step to legalizing fish farmers’ use of pesticides. Cabinet ordered the transfer of the Fisheries Act Section 36 that forbids dumping of chemicals into habitat. Fisheries managers had complained of “fuzziness” over the law that restricted aquaculture companies from treating species with chemicals, and proposed it be legalized and regulated similar to crop sprays.

 

Il faudrait 83 ans pour tout restaurer (French only)

11-MAR-2014 09:58 AM   Alexandre Shields, Le Devoir

Résultat de décennies de négligence environnementale, les sites miniers abandonnés continueront longtemps de faire partie du paysage québécois. Si Québec continue les travaux de restauration au rythme actuel, il ne faudra pas moins de 83 ans pour venir à bout de cet héritage toxique, pour un coût dépassant le milliard de dollars. Et la facture sera assumée uniquement par les contribuables.

 

‘Hype’ hurts scientific progress: conference

14-MAR-2014 10:32 AM   Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A Vancouver conference is calling on government to protect independent research, as the increasingly cutthroat politics behind funding is pressuring scientists to go for sexy over sensible. The scientific community is struggling in an age where “hype” is harming the quality of research, said health law and policy researcher Timothy Caulfield, speaking downtown Thursday at the Brain Science and Social Responsibility conference. The call comes as Ottawa is under fire for cutting federal programs and shutting down research facilities — backing economic interests at the expense of pure science.

 

The federal government is investigating laying charges against a U.S.-based pipeline company after a damning report by an Alberta regulator into a 2012 spill. "Environment Canada’s Enforcement Branch has an ongoing investigation into this incident to determine if a contravention of federal environmental legislation has occurred, and continues to work in cooperation with provincial regulatory authorities," said department spokesman Mark Johnson. Alberta is also looking into whether charges will be laid under provincial legislation.

 

A global summit on scientific advice

13-MAR-2014 10:28 AM   The Guardian

In the five years since he was appointed as New Zealand's first science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman has earned a reputation as one of the world's most thoughtful practitioners at the interface between science, society and public policy. In 2009, after a distinguished career in medical research, focused on how a baby's environment between conception and birth determines its life-long health, Gluckman was invited by John Key, New Zealand's newly-elected Prime Minister, to create and lead the Office of the PM's Science Advisory Committee. As he admits: "The committee has only one member, namely me. But this was a constitutional way to ensure its independence."

 

Farmers’ privilege is hollowed out in Bill C-18

13-MAR-2014 10:25 AM   Terry Boehm & Ann Slater

Farmers have been selecting, harvesting, cleaning, storing, replanting and sharing seeds with each other for many millennia. Through Bill C-18, the Canadian government would turn this customary practice into a “privilege” – a hollow privilege that can be taken away at any time.

 

The art of science advice to government

12-MAR-2014 10:23 AM   Peter Gluckman, Nature

Peter Gluckman, New Zealand's chief science adviser, offers his ten principles for building trust, influence, engagement and independence.

 

If we really cared about endangered species

12-MAR-2014 10:18 AM   David Suzuki, Net News Ledger

Of 345 species at risk in Canada, more than 160 have waited far too long for recovery strategies. Thanks to a recent federal court decision, four luckier ones are finally getting overdue plans detailing steps needed to save and protect them, including identifying habitat they need to survive. But to make it happen, environmental groups such as the David Suzuki Foundation had to take the federal government to court. It wasn’t the first time we’ve gone to court to protect wildlife.

 

Environment Canada braces for cuts to climate programs

12-MAR-2014 10:15 AM   Alex Boutilier, The Toronto Star

Canada’s efforts to combat climate change could be scaled down as Environment Canada braces for more budgetary belt-tightening over the next three years. A recently released report on Environment Canada’s plans and priorities reveals the department plans to reduce spending from $1.01 billion in 2014-2015 to $698.8 million in 2016-2017.

 

The Canadian government is quickly using up its allotment of surveillance time on the country’s most sophisticated satellite and could find itself doing without by 2017 unless it comes up with more money, according to Department of National Defence documents. Federal departments were to receive $445 million worth of data collected by the Radarsat-2 satellite in exchange for the government’s financial contribution to the building of the satellite, which is owned and operated by a British Columbia company. But the spacecraft has become so essential, particularly for the military’s surveillance of the country’s coastline, that the federal government is fast using up its data credits.

 

Cosmos : Making science sexy again

10-MAR-2014 10:03 AM   Nicole Mortillaro, Global News

Tags Space

If you were around in the 1970s, you’ll likely remember the PBS special Cosmos, hosted by renowned astronomer Carl Sagan. For many people, that show was responsible for introducing them to our universe. It was wildly successful, reaching an estimated 700 million people. In the show, Sagan explored not just astronomy, but the very essence of life, from the infinitesimally small, to the uncomprehendingly large. More than 30 years passed and rumours swirled about the possibility of reintroducing the series to a whole new generation. But in our day and age — a time of instant gratification and shortened attention spans — how do you wow the audience in a 13-part show about the universe?

 

Ottawa takes another stab at solving the innovation conundrum

09-MAR-2014 10:01 AM   Barrie McKenna, The Globe and Mail

Canadians might be surprised to learn their country has a science and technology strategy. Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled what he called a “bold new framework” in 2007 – “Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage.” Mr. Harper vowed at the time that the plan would make Canada “a world leader in science and technology and a key source of entrepreneurial innovation and creativity.” Seven years later, the promise remains largely unfulfilled. Canada continues to slide further behind other developed countries on most key measures of innovation.

 

Cinq ans plus tard, ce rêve — ou cauchemar, scandent les groupes environnementaux — est devenu réalité. Près de 15 mois après le dépôt d’une demande officielle, le groupe albertain Enbridge a le feu vert pour inverser le flot d’écoulement de son pipeline Québec-Ontario, appelé communément « Ligne 9 », de manière à transporter vers l’est le pétrole issu des sables bitumineux.

 

AECL management contract bidding starts

10-MAR-2014 09:55 AM   World Nuclear News

The announcement follows the government's February 2013 decision to involve the private sector in the management of the national nuclear laboratories. It is the second stage in the restructuring of AECL announced in 2009; the first stage saw the sale of AECL's former Candu Reactor Division to SNC-Lavalin subsidiary Candu Energy Inc in 2011. Interested suppliers are invited to submit a request for response evaluation (RFRE) to demonstrate that they have the experience, expertise and financial capacity to manage the nuclear laboratories. Qualifying suppliers would then engage in detailed consultations with the government with a view to submitting a request for proposal (RFP). The closing date for RFRE submissions is 6 August.

 

Décrit dans la revue médicale Nature Medicine, le test sanguin permettrait de prédire l'apparition de la maladie, avec une précision atteignant les 90 %. Basé sur l'identification de dix lipides (graisses) dans le sang, le test pourrait faire l'objet d'essais cliniques dans deux ans, précisent les chercheurs.

 

La science à l’assaut de la paralysie (french only)

07-MAR-2014 09:07 AM   Brigitte Castelnau, La Presse

Prothèse bionique, greffes de cellules, gestes animés par la pensée grâce aux interfaces cerveau-machine, substances neuroprotectrices: la recherche foisonne pour combattre la paralysie. Jusqu'à faire espérer, un jour, la fin des Jeux paralympiques.

 

The National Energy Board has approved energy giant Enbridge's plan to reverse the flow and increase the capacity of a pipeline that has been running between southern Ontario and Montreal for years. The green light for the Calgary-based company is subject to certain conditions and requirements.

 

Des analyses rendues publiques jeudi par le Bureau de la sécurité des transports (BST) confirment que la haute volatilité du pétrole transporté par la Montreal Maine & Atlantic a joué un rôle déterminant dans l'incendie qui a ravagé le centre-ville de Lac-Mégantic.

 

L'Office national de l'énergie a donné son feu vert à l'inversion du pipeline 9 d'Enbridge vers Montréal, jeudi. L'organisme réglementaire a publié une décision de près de 200 pages en toute fin de journée pour confirmer sa décision. Enbridge peut donc inverser le flux de son oléoduc de 639 kilomètres entre North Westover et Montréal, qui coule actuellement d'Est en Ouest. La compagnie pourra aussi hausser la capacité de la conduite de 240 000 barils par jour à 300 000.

 

Four suitors for Chalk River Laboratories

06-MAR-2014 08:55 AM   Dean Chase, The Daily Observer

Four major consortiums will bid to become the new operators of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Chalk River Laboratories. That was a piece of good news coming out of last week's Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show in Ottawa where the future of the facility was front and centre. This is a critical year for Chalk River with the federal government initiating a significant restructuring of AECL by moving to a "government-owned, contractor-operated" (Go-Co) model, while deciding on the future of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor.

 

Un astéroïde déjà connu des astronomes doit passer mercredi à proximité de la Terre à une distance inférieure à celle séparant notre planète de la Lune, mais sans présenter de danger de collision, a indiqué la Nasa sur son site internet.

 

Canadian Space Agency quietly marks 25th anniversary

05-MAR-2014 08:52 AM   City News, Toronto

Tags Space

The Canadian Space Agency quietly marked a quarter-century of existence last Saturday. The 25-year anniversary on March 1 was highlighted by a short statement from president Walt Natynczyk on the agency’s website and its Facebook page.

 

Government suggests no need to test for radiation

05-MAR-2014 08:49 AM   John Gleeson, Coast Reporter

Health Canada is citing two separate series of radiation tests on BC fish, along with ongoing ocean monitoring, as reasons why regular domestic seafood testing is not warranted in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident. “What we’ve seen so far presents no health risk,” said Sean Upton, Health Canada senior media relations officer. “If increased radiation is found in the waters in 2014 or 2015 then more testing would be done, as needed. We know there’s going to be radiation from Fukushima for years to come. The testing will never stop.”

 

Nearly 2,000 people have signed a petition calling on the federal government to reinstate fired archaeologist Patricia Sutherland in her position at the Canadian Museum of History so she can resume her groundbreaking research on contact between Europeans and the Dorset, the ancient, vanished people of the Arctic. Sutherland was curator of Arctic archeology at what was then called the Canadian Museum of Civilization when she was abruptly fired in April 2012, just months before her Arctic research was featured in National Geographic magazine and on the CBC show The Nature of Things.

 

Scientists have discovered a new type of virus in 30,000-year-old permafrost and managed to revive it, producing an infection. The new virus, named Pithovirus sibericum, infects amoebas and is not harmful to humans. The researchers suggest that looking for amoeba-infecting viruses in permafrost is an "inexpensive and safe way to realistically assess the threat" posed by pathogens that might be released from ancient frozen soils and sediments as permafrost melts, either due to global warming or industrial activities such as mining and drilling.

 

Un nouveau type de virus géant, baptisé «Pithovirus», a survécu plus de 30 000 ans à la congélation, dans une couche de permafrost sibérien contemporaine de l'extinction de l'homme de Neandertal, selon une étude publiée lundi.

 

La puissance du nombre (French only)

01-MAR-2014 08:33 AM   Pauline Gravel, Le Devoir

Depuis une dizaine d’années, on évalue, on note et on classe les chercheurs, les universités, voire les pays, à l’aide d’« indicateurs d’excellence » qui souvent ne reflètent pas vraiment la qualité de la recherche mais répondent avant tout à des impératifs de marketing. Le sociologue des sciences à l’UQAM, Yves Gingras, décrit dans son dernier livre les dérives de l’évaluation de la recherche et montre les dangers de vouloir tout résumer à un chiffre.

 

Bruce Power pushes $15-billion upgrade with lead shareholders

28-FEB-2014 08:30 AM   Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail

Tags Energy

Bruce Power is working to secure the commitment from its two leading shareholders – TransCanada Corp. and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) – for a 15-year, $15-billion project to refurbish six Candu reactors at its Lake Huron site. The effort comes after Saskatoon-based uranium giant Cameco Corp. reached an agreement in January to sell its 31.6-per-cent stake in the nuclear power operator to OMERS’s Borealis infrastructure unit. That would leave the provincial pension fund with a 56.1-per-cent stake in Bruce Power, although TransCanada – currently at 40 per cent – and other small shareholders are still reviewing their right of first refusal to take up the Cameco shares.

 

The fate of the venerable NRU nuclear research reactor at Chalk River rests on it delivering innovative scientific and economic benefits once medical isotope production ceases in 2016, the head of AECL said Thursday at the Canadian Nuclear Association’s annual Ottawa conference. Earlier, Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver told the several hundred nuclear industry delegates the government hopes to complete its reorganization of AECL into a government-owned contractor-operated (GoCo) partnership next year. He gave no details about which private parties are in the running.

 

Millions of scallops dying off B.C. coast

27-FEB-2014 09:25 AM   Amy Judd, Global News

Many of B.C.’s scallops are grown from larvae at a hatchery in Qualicum Beach. It is a controlled environment, carefully monitored to give the shellfish the best possible chance. But moving to the ocean is the next step, where things are becoming increasingly difficult as the waters seem to have reached a tipping point.

 

Main estimates : Statistics Canada reviewing how it gathers data

27-FEB-2014 09:22 AM   Jordan Press, The Province

The federal statistics agency will undertake a comprehensive review of how it collects key data about the Canadian population. The review is outlined in the main estimates tabled in Parliament Thursday, where Statistics Canada announced it was cutting its expected spending by more than $21 million — a five per cent cut from the estimates it tabled last year. In all, Statistics Canada expects to spend almost $380 million over the next 12 months. The estimates last year were for spending of more than $400 million.

 

Local salmon advocate files federal petition

27-FEB-2014 09:19 AM   John French, Pique

A Whistler advocate of salmon preservation and habitat protection feels the federal government isn't doing enough following the release of the Cohen Commission into the Decline of Fraser Sockeye — so Dave Brown filed a petition with the auditor general of Canada expressing his concerns.

 

Des coupes pourraient être décrétées en santé si le gouvernement n'arrive pas à convaincre les médecins d'étaler leurs futures hausses de salaire, indique le ministre Réjean Hébert. Le titulaire du portefeuille de la Santé et des Services sociaux a évoqué cette hypothèse, mercredi, en se présentant au Conseil des ministres.

 

Court overrules DFO decision to reopen herring fisheries

26-FEB-2014 09:15 AM   Kristan Secher, The Tyee

A Federal Court judge has ruled in favour of the five B.C. First Nations' injunction against Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO) proposal to reopen commercial herring roe fisheries on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The ruling came after it was revealed in court that Fisheries Minister Gail Shea went against the advice of her own scientists when she decided to reopen the west coast of Vancouver Island for commercial herring fisheries.

 

The deteriorating health of B.C.'s oceans is impacting not only the province's marine life, but also its economy. Millions of shellfish are dying off before they can be harvested at Island Scallops, near Parksville, B.C., due to increased acidity levels in the ocean.

 

No global warming ‘hiatus’ for extreme heat days

26-FEB-2014 09:08 AM   Emily Chung, CBC News

The number and intensity of extremely hot days has been increasing steadily despite a "pause" in the rise of average surface temperatures over the past 15 years, a new study has found. "This analysis shows that not only is there no pause in the evolution of the warmest daily extremes over land but that they have continued unabated over the observational record," said the paper published Wednesday in Nature Climate Change. "Furthermore, the available evidence suggests that the most 'extreme' extremes show the greatest change." The average global temperature is a common measure of climate change used by scientists and policymakers, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

 

About 100 key players, including representatives from industry, academia and government, met at the Canadian Space Agency on Tuesday for what was billed as the country’s first annual space conference. The event took place just a few weeks after Industry Minister James Moore announced Canada’s new space policy framework.

 

Pourquoi aller dans l’espace? (French only)

26-FEB-2014 09:04 AM   Le labo du journalisme scientifique

Avec des coûts de construction et d’entretien dépassant les 100 milliards de dollars, la Station spatiale internationale est sans aucun doute la structure la plus dispendieuse assemblée par l’être humain. Est-ce que cet investissement colossal en vaut la peine? Outre que les scientifiques y bénéficient de la possibilité d’étudier les effets de cette faible gravité sur le corps humain, ce sont les technologies développées spécifiquement pour la Station qui ont eu le plus d’applications concrètes sur Terre. L’exemple parfait est le neuroArm, un bras robotique très précis qui permet de faire des chirurgies du cerveau auparavant impossibles qui requièrent une dextérité élevée. Le neuroArm s’inspire du bras robotique Canadarm2, de conception canadienne, qui a contribué à l’assemblage et à l’entretient de la Station spatiale.

 

Les nouveaux propriétaires de la société Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway ont laissé entrevoir des investissements importants pour mettre à niveau le chemin de fer lors d'une rencontre, lundi, avec la mairesse de Lac-Mégantic, Colette Roy-Laroche.

 

The Harper approach to science is holding us back

25-FEB-2014 08:59 AM   Dak T. de Kerckhove, iPolitics

Over the last seven years, our federal government has directed funding away from basic science toward industry-led research programs, and clashed publicly with the scientific community on issues ranging from censorship to laboratory closures. In 2014, Industry Canada’s innovation strategy, which was opened to public consultation, promised more of the same approach.

 

TransCanada, l’entreprise qui prévoit construire l’oléoduc Énergie Est qui s’étendra sur près de 1000 km au Québec, a cerné la majorité des dangers et des risques de son réseau actuel, mais certains aspects ne sont toujours « pas conformes », conclut un rapport de l’Office national de l’énergie.

 

McMaster scientists take lead in new national health networks

25-FEB-2014 08:54 AM   Suzanne Morrison, McMaster Daily News

Tags Funding Health

A McMaster researcher will head a new Canadian network which has been formed to find innovative ways to prevent stroke. McMaster colleagues have been called on to assist with two new Canadian networks looking at respiratory health and vascular disease. The three Emerging Networks were announced by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in Ottawa today.

 

Telescopes in southern Spain have recoctvrded the flash of a meteorite that a new report says hit the Earth's moon with a force equivalent to 15 tonnes of TNT – at least three times as great as that from the previous record-holding lunar impact observed by NASA last March. This rock, recorded on Sept. 11, 2013, carved out a new crater measuring 40 metres in width. It had the mass of a small car, weighed about 400 kilograms and was travelling at 61,000 km/h.

 

A National Energy Board audit has found room for improvement when it comes to TransCanada's pipeline safety practices. Although the federal energy watchdog is "of the view that the processes presently used by TransCanada have identified the majority, and most significant, of its hazards and risks," it says the company is still breaking the rules in some areas.

 

We need to cultivate economic benefits from Canadian discovery research

24-FEB-2014 08:42 AM   Ted Hsu, The Hill Times

Tags Innovation

The success of GreenCentre as a Centre of Excellence for the Commercialization of Research (CECR) in cultivating the economic benefits of discovery research in green chemistry from Canadian post-secondary institutions, as well as entrepreneurs, should be built upon and generalized to certain other sectors in order to transform innovation in Canada. All of the major advances in prosperity resulting from science and technology can be traced back to basic research. Basic research can be driven by curiosity, by a desire to be systematic, by a desire for rigour or a desire to accomplish a technical feat. Basic research is, by definition, an enterprise whose goal cannot be fixed and whose final outcome cannot be predicted. And yet, this undirected enterprise has been, historically, a most successful one.

 

Budget 2014 represents a subtle shift in the federal government’s strategy for the research and innovation file. With the next election on the near horizon, the Conservatives are now trying to hide their shortsighted cuts with lavish promises of billions in investments delayed over the next decade. Most of these commitments are slotted to be spent on a future government’s dime, with funds promised that won’t start to flow until after 2015. The Conservatives are playing politics with research funding and have tabled nothing more than a “positioning budget” for the next election.

 

Canada needs a senior science and innovation minister

24-FEB-2014 08:35 AM   Paul Dufour, The Hill Times

When federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced his 10th budget on Feb. 11, he once again demonstrated that science, technology, and innovation suffer from that Ottawa affliction known as CPA, continuous partial attention. Budgets with this government and others before it are usually careful to make some sort of statement about the need to invest in knowledge and innovation—only the emphasis and context changes (see, for example any, of the word clouds in Flaherty’s previous budgets for ‘research,’ ‘science,’ and ‘innovation’).

 

When federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea approved the reopening of commercial herring roe fisheries on First Nations' territories in British Columbia, she ignored the recommendations of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) scientists. This was revealed in an internal DFO document released yesterday during a court hearing of five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations' injunction against DFO's proposal to reopen the west coast of Vancouver Island to commercial herring roe fisheries in 2014.

 

En recherche, le gouvernement fédéral est un acteur majeur lorsqu’il est question de financement. Et le dernier budget Flaherty déposé indique clairement qu’une nouvelle donne régit en terre canadienne la distribution des subsides. La recherche doit-elle être uniquement évaluée selon sa capacité de soutenir les entreprises ? Selon sa seule capacité de générer des revenus potentiels ? Si, à cette double question, le gouvernement Harper répond « oui », il se trouvera dans le monde universitaire plus d’un acteur pour souligner le côté pervers d’une telle politique.

 

Ottawa is laying the regulatory groundwork for the transfer of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) to a Winnipeg think-tank. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is floating the use of a special exemption under the Fisheries Act that would allow the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD), the ELA’s prospective owners, to authorize the dumping of pollution into the remote network of 58 lakes for the sake of environmental research

 

No radiation in fish tested: Health Canada

21-FEB-2014 08:22 AM   John Gleeson, Coast Reporter

Canadian Food Inspection Agency; International Atomic Energy Agency; First Nations; Monitoring Health Canada is citing two separate series of radiation tests on B.C. fish — along with ongoing ocean monitoring — as reasons why regular domestic seafood testing is not warranted in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

 

A secret report from a committee of federal deputy ministers stresses the need for the federal government to further combat climate change and manage the risks that threaten Canadian communities, government infrastructure, food security and human health. The report from the Deputy Ministers’ Committee on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment to the Clerk of the Privy Council Wayne Wouters also identifies priority areas for potential “government intervention” on energy and environmental innovation, including taking action on unconventional oil and gas, water and next-generation transportation.

 

On October 21, 2013 I asked a Canadian federal scientist named David Tarasick to talk about ozone depletion for an episode of my radio show, The Terry Project on CiTR. David Tarasick is a somewhat controversial figure in Canada. After he published a landmark paper in Nature, Dr. Tarasick was kept from speaking to the press by Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent. That said, the Terry Project is a campus radio program. Many of our episodes have received less than 100 listens and downloads. It is hardly the sort of show that would frighten serious communications professionals–let alone ministers.

 

Canada needs to better control and contain resistant microbes — or superbugs — that are killing and sickening thousands of Canadian each year, say leading doctors. A good place to start, they say, is to close “loopholes” that permit Canadian farmers to import antibiotics by the truckload to feed to their animals – a practice that helps breed resistant microbes

 

La résistance croissante des microbes aux antibiotiques est devenue une menace à l'échelle de la planète, prise très au sérieux par les autorités sanitaires qui, comme l'OMS, commencent à multiplier mises en garde et plans d'action.

 

Editorial : Ocean-watcher back on the job

20-FEB-2014 09:12 AM   Times Colonist

It was a dark day for environmental research in Canada when the federal government axed marine-mammal toxicologist Peter Ross and his team from the Institute of Ocean Sciences in North Saanich. The outlook brightened this week with the news that Ross has joined the Vancouver Aquarium to head a new initiative called the Ocean Pollution Science Program. Although the government was wrong to get rid of Ross’s ocean-pollution research, it’s reassuring to know that some of it will be able to continue under the auspices of the aquarium.

 

New federal research has confirmed that water from vast oilsands tailings ponds is leaching into groundwater and seeping into the Athabasca River. Previous studies using models have estimated the leakage at 6.5 million litres a day from a single pond. But the Environment Canada study used new technology to actually fingerprint the mix of groundwater chemicals in the area.

 

Experimental Lakes Area expected to open in spring

19-FEB-2014 09:08 AM   Andrea Hill, Leader Post

The federal government has yet to close a deal to keep the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area research facility open, but is already introducing regulations so research can get underway this spring. In the latest publication of the Canada Gazette, the government said it hopes to have the necessary regulatory framework in place for a non-profit group to take over operation of the ELA before May 1, the beginning of the research season. To do this, it has proposed changes to the Fisheries Act that will allow a new operator to dump toxic substances into the ELA’s 58 northern Ontario lakes for research purposes. A similar piece of provincial legislation was announced by the Government of Ontario earlier this year.

 

Canada’s missed opportunities at AAAS

19-FEB-2014 09:06 AM   Léo Charbonneau, University Affairs

Canada was both present and missing at this year’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago, Feb. 13-17. AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and its annual meeting attracts thousands of leading scientists, engineers, educators, policymakers and journalists from around the world to discuss recent developments in science and technology. Canada was well represented at the scientific symposia, with researchers talking about impacts of the Arctic thaw, fisheries management, brain simulation and seeing elections through the lens of mathematics, among other topics. But Canada was notably lacking in any official promotion as a destination of choice for top researchers – at a time when we do a lot of talking, at the federal level at least, about the need to do more to attract top researchers from around the world.

 

The Experimental Lakes Area has cleared the last regulatory hurdle on its way to reopening under the management of the International Institute for Sustainable Development this spring. The federal government has produced the changes to Canada’s fishing regulations which will allow research at the ELA to continue legally.

 

Hudak pushes plan to contract out government services

19-FEB-2014 09:01 AM   Adrian Morrow, Globe and Mail

Tim Hudak is proposing a sweeping plan to contract out government services and force public sector unions to compete with private companies to see who can do the work at the lowest cost.

 

Ending Science

19-FEB-2014 08:57 AM   Editorial, The Telegram

It’s a sobering report: the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada’s “Vanishing Science” outlines how the federal government seems intent on erasing the nuisance of scientists and fact-based decision making. Since 2008, federal budget cuts have seen more than 2,000 federal science jobs simply disappear — a raft of cuts seem designed to make sure facts don’t get in the way of government dogma.

 

Memo to Harper predicted boom in transporting oil by rail

18-FEB-2014 08:50 AM   Mike de Souza, Postmedia News

An internal memorandum to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, prepared more than two years before the Lac-Megantic railway disaster, noted that oil shipments by train were on the verge of expanding by up to 20 times the volume. The memo has prompted the Liberals to ask why the government wasn’t more focused on safety at an earlier stage.

 

The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today announced that the proposed Experimental Lakes Area Research Activities Regulations have been published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period, ending on March 16, 2014. This next step in the process is in keeping with the Government of Canada’s commitment to transition the Experimental Lakes Area to a third party.

 

One of most unpredictable and dangerous impacts of climate change is the threat it poses to our ability to grow and harvest food across Canada and around the globe.On a global scale, food security in the age of climate change is a serious concern with reports warning that climate change could drive up food prices and lead to millions of people living in a state of food insecurity. In the context of this agricultural insecurity, Gerry Ritz, Canada's Minister for Agriculture, told the House of Commons last week that "this cold weather can't last forever. This global warming has to stop some time".

 

Chaque jour, les pharmaciens doivent composer avec des pénuries de médicaments. Et ils n'en peuvent plus. Un jour ou l'autre, il y aura des morts, préviennent-ils. Quand un médicament n'est pas accessible, les professionnels de la santé disposent parfois de solutions de rechange. Mais le patient ne reçoit pas le «traitement optimal» parce que ce deuxième choix peut commencer à agir moins rapidement ou causer des effets secondaires.

 

Boîtes à surprises (French only)

17-FEB-2014 08:26 AM   Marie-Claude Malboeuf, La Presse

Ottawa a promis en 2004 de bannir les produits de santé naturels risqués ou inefficaces. Dix ans - et des dizaines de ratés - plus tard, c'est apparemment un échec. Une nouvelle étude démontre que des dizaines de produits approuvés contiennent encore des ingrédients cachés ou nocifs. Et de plus en plus de voix accusent le ministère de la Santé d'approuver presque n'importe quoi.

 

Golden Goose : Where offbeat science is good science

17-FEB-2014 08:18 AM   Jim Cooper & Randy Hultgren, The Hill

Dr. Chalfie joined us in Chicago for a symposium Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The subject was the Golden Goose Award – a funny-sounding honor with a serious goal. The Golden Goose Award was created in 2012 by academic, business and science organizations to recognize federally funded research. This research often leads to major breakthroughs with little or no connection to the original research, illustrating the unpredictable paths science takes in advancing society.

 

Harper et la science : éclaircie en vue ? (French only)

17-FEB-2014 08:16 AM   Valérie Borde, L’actualité

Tags Funding Budget

Pour la première fois depuis très longtemps, la communauté scientifique ne s’est pas indignée contre une décision du gouvernement Harper, qui annonce une légère embellie du côté de la recherche fondamentale dans son dernier budget.

 

Dispute over the Future of Basic Research in Canada

16-FEB-2014 07:56 AM   The New York Times

Canada’s National Research Council is the country’s premier scientific institution, helping to produce such inventions as the pacemaker and the robotic arm used on the American space shuttle. But last year, its mission changed. The Canadian government announced a transformation of the 98-year-old agency, formerly focused largely on basic research, into a one-stop “concierge service” to bolster technological innovation by industry — historically weak — and generate high-quality jobs.

 

Bees. Careful.

17-FEB-2014 03:35 PM   Blacklock’s Reporter

Farm groups are pressing the Senate to forestall for years any regulations on pesticides rated toxic to bees. Members of the Senate agriculture committee investigating deaths of bee colonies were told any restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides should await a complete review by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

 

Rapidly warming Arctic may be causing our polar-vortex winter

15-FEB-2014 03:34 PM   Kate Allen, the Toronto Star

Tags Climate Arctic

The rapidly warming Arctic may be behind persistent weather patterns half a world away, including our polar-vortex winter, the U.K.’s relentless rain, and droughts in the American southwest, according to a “controversial” new theory. The theory, which Francis presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Chicago on Saturday, is still contentious. “This is a very new research topic . . . and it has ended up triggering a lot of discussion in our scientific community,” she said.

 

At an annual conference in Truro, N.S., that brings fishermen and scientists together to promote ocean research, some researchers declined to discuss their work with media because they did not have approval to do so. Scientists across the country have been expressing growing alarm over federal programs monitoring areas that range from climate change and ocean habitats to public health, worried Canadians are being deprived of crucial scientific information.

 

Éditorial – Les Néoconservateurs (french only)

14-FEB-2014 03:31 PM   François Cardinal, La Presse

Les conservateurs ont été de véritables précurseurs lorsqu'ils ont jeté les bases d'un gouvernement qui s'appuie sur la science et la raison. Cent ans plus tard, ils se sont transformés en fossoyeurs de cet État moderne en sapant les bases scientifiques de l'appareil fédéral.

 

En mars 2013, l'ingénieur fédéral Jean-Pierre Gagnon, un des milliers de fonctionnaires touchés par les coupes de l'année précédente du gouvernement Harper, a quitté son emploi. Selon l'Institut professionnel de la fonction publique du Canada (IPFPC), M. Gagnon était l'un des principaux experts nord-américains en transport ferroviaire de matières dangereuses, tout particulièrement soucieux de la sécurité des wagons citernes DOT-111. C'était quelques mois avant la tragédie de Lac-Mégantic...

 

Ewart : Budget ignores rail and marine safety

13-FEB-2014 03:26 PM   Stephen Ewart, The Windsor Star

Getting Canadian oil and gas to lucrative global markets "is a priority" for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, but this week's budget didn't include new funding commitments in response to recent federal reports on improving rail and oil tanker safety. The budget did allocate $28 million over two years to the National Energy Board to help review project applications - TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline was named specifically - so they are completed within the two-year time limit set by Ottawa.

 

The vast network of natural gas wells, pipes and processing facilities across the U.S. and Canada is "leaky" and needs a fix, according to a new study. Government authorities are underestimating how much methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is escaping into the atmosphere from the natural gas system, says the report, entitled Methane Leaks from North American Natural Gas Systems, that was released Thursday by journal Science.

 

Funding technical talent and a ‘how-to’ economy

13-FEB-2014 03:23 PM   Nobina Robinson, The Globe and Mail

This week’s federal budget demonstrates that the government realizes Canada’s innovation challenge is a “people” as well as an “ideas” challenge. Currently, economic growth is being held back by two related conditions – lagging productivity and high rates of youth unemployment (as well as underemployment) at a time when employers are have trouble finding people who possess the right critical and technical skills. In an economy with a growing demand for innovation talent in all sectors, we need to train people to know not just the “why” of knowledge, but the “how-to” of technical talent.

 

La très grande majorité des scientifiques du gouvernement fédéral croient que les compressions imposées à leurs activités de recherche et de surveillance affaibliront la capacité du gouvernement à servir l’intérêt public et qu’elles ont fait régresser le Canada en matière de protection de l’environnement...

 

Key DFO Library Closure Questions Go Unanswered : Scientists

12-FEB-2014 10:47 AM   Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee

A federal government reply to a New Democratic query about the closure of seven famed libraries operated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) leaves many questions unanswered, scientists say.

 

Is the budget good for science? Depends on what you research

12-FEB-2014 10:42 AM   Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail

Is the 2014 federal budget good for Canadian science? Parsing through the text of yesterday’s budget document it’s fair to say it’s written to look that way. For example, with renewed commitments to the TRIUMF particle accelerator and a cutting-edge quantum institute the government has made a strong show of support for physics. Together with modest gains for the agencies that fund basic research, the allocations seems tailored to answer those who say the Harper government’s policies have been harmful to science in Canada. But while the funding commitments come as welcome news for the many researchers who will benefit from them, critics say the budget is more of a cosmetic softening than a cosmic shift for Canadian science.

 

The National Research Council says it’s not surprised at a survey that says three out of five employees at the federal government’s scientific research agency are frustrated by decisions made by senior management. Responding to questions about an internal survey obtained by Postmedia News, a council spokesperson said the NRC expected a negative reaction from staff because of its ongoing restructuring. Following the 2012 federal budget, the NRC cut spending and shifted its mandate away from doing general scientific research on public policy issues, moving instead toward becoming a “concierge service” for businesses.“Communicating in a time of change is not always an easy task and often creates uncertainty,” NRC spokesman Charles Drouin said in an email.

 

"With this Budget, the interests of Canadians have been sacrificed in favour of electoral considerations and an irrational obsession with balanced budgets. It keeps Canada on the wrong course and puts Canadians' health, environment and economic prosperity at risk. It is simply not possible for the government to 'put its fiscal house in order' when the foundations - the programs and services that Canadians depend on - are crumbling," says Debi Daviau, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), Canada's largest union of public service professionals.

 

« Avec ce budget, les intérêts des Canadiens ont été sacrifiés pour des considérations électorales et une obsession irrationnelle de budgets équilibrés. » C'est un budget qui garde le Canada sur la mauvaise voie et qui compromet la santé, l'environnement et la prospérité des Canadiens. Il n'est tout simplement pas possible que le gouvernement « mette de l'ordre dans les finances » de sa maison lorsque les fondations, c'est-à-dire les programmes et les services dont dépendent les Canadiens, s'effritent. » déclare Debi Daviau, présidente et administratrice en chef de l'Institut professionnel de la fonction publique du Canada (IPFPC), le plus grand syndicat de professionnels de la fonction publique au Canada.

 

It was an unusual scene for Ottawa: A cabinet minister telling university scientists that his government needs independent and vocal science advice, with direct access to the prime minister. The minister was from Britain: David Willetts, minister for universities and science. And his speech Monday on how his government cherishes independent science advice on everything from climate change to medical ethics was unlike what Canadian scientists are used to hearing from leaders here. A non-scientist himself, Willetts told how he and his cabinet colleagues regularly consult a network of independent science advisers for information on political issues and crises.

 

New plan – but no new money announced for space agency

08-FEB-2014 09:46 AM   Andrea Hill, The Star Pheonix

A new plan for the Canadian Space Agency aims to make Canada "a global leader" in space exploration, but does not promise new funding for the agency, which has been forced to trim spending since across the-board budget cuts in 2012. Industry Minister James Moore told reporters Friday that the CSA has "more than enough money to move forward" with the plan and that focusing on the agency's budget is "missing the point of the policy."

 

Des compressions néfastes pour la science (French only)

08-FEB-2014 09:28 AM   Paul Gaboury, Le Droit

Les scientifiques travaillant dans plusieurs ministères fédéraux se disent inquiets des répercussions qu’auront les compressions budgétaires sur la science au cours des prochaines années. Voilà ce que révèlent les résultats d’un sondage Environics mené auprès de scientifiques et professionnels fédéraux dans un nouveau rapport appelé La désintégration de la science publique au Canada, rendu public à la veille du dépôt du budget fédéral par l’Institut professionnel de la fonction publique du Canada (IPFPC).

 

Industry minister releases space policy details

07-FEB-2014 09:25 AM   Metro News, The Canadian Press

A policy framework that will serve as a guide for Canada’s future in space makes sovereignty and security its No. 1 priority. Industry Minister James Moore unveiled the policy document on Friday at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Moore told industry representatives and a group of local students the document has five key priorities.

 

La grande majorité des scientifiques, chercheurs et ingénieurs fédéraux affirment que les politiques et les compressions dans les domaines scientifiques affectent à la fois leur travail, mais mettent surtout en péril la santé des Canadiens et la qualité de l'environnement. C'est ce qui ressort d'un vaste sondage de l'Institut professionnel de la fonction publique du Canada auprès des scientifiques travaillant pour les principaux ministères et organismes fédéraux.

 

RCMP, intelligence agency accused of spying on pipeline opponents

06-FEB-2014 09:04 AM   Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail

Environmental and aboriginal groups opposed to Enbridge Inc.’s proposed pipeline across British Columbia say federal law enforcement agencies are spying on them and they want the “intimidating and anti-democratic” practices stopped. In a news conference on Thursday, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association announced it has filed complaints with the agencies overseeing the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

 

Food insecurity in Canada growing worse

06-FEB-2014 09:01 AM   CBC News

Food insecurity — lack of access to sufficient, healthy food — is either not getting any better or is getting worse in all parts of Canada, according to a new report. Valerie Tarasuk of the University of Toronto was the lead researcher for the Household Food Insecurity in Canada report, which was produced with support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and released Thursday morning.

 

The federal government will cut $2.6 billion in spending and nearly 5,000 jobs from its science-focused departments between 2013 and 2016, says a report released Thursday by a union representing government scientists and professionals. The report, which includes survey data showing a majority of scientists believe their departments are weakening efforts to protect Canadians and the environment, highlights the departure of key experts who did research on rail safety and public health, as well as the recent review of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

 

Half of federal government scientists who responded to a recent poll believe the Conservatives’ cuts to science budgets have already damaged their ability to serve the public. The vast majority — 91 per cent — of respondents believe upcoming cuts will erode that ability further. In particular, scientists working at Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Natural Resources Canada, and in Agriculture were among the most likely to report that cuts to their departments had a detrimental effect on their ability to serve the public. Environmental research and regulation is the area scientists were most likely to be concerned about.

 

The government's cuts to federal science budgets and its changes to policy are damaging scientists' ability to serve and protect the public, according to a new survey. The survey was commissioned by the union representing federal scientists. As well, the Conservative government's shift in federal science priorities under Prime Minister Stephen Harper toward supporting industry is out of step with the public's view that health, safety and the protection of the environment should be the government's top science priorities, says the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. (PIPSC)

 

The federal auditor general has selected a former mining industry executive with more than 25 years experience in environmental and social responsibility as the new Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Auditor General Michael Ferguson announced Wednesday that Julie Gelfand has been appointed the environment commissioner effective March 24, 2014.Gelfand most recently held the positions of chief advisor at Rio Tinto Canada, and vice-president of environment and social responsibility at the Rio Tinto Iron Ore Company of Canada, where she managed issues related to water effluent, air quality, government and community relations, and aboriginal negotiations.

 

Busted : Ten Myths about the Canada Post

05-FEB-2014 08:49 AM   The Tyee, Doug Nesbitt

Tags Funding Budget

2013 Canada Post's management announced, without warning either the public or the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, that home delivery for five million Canadians would be cut, there would be at least 8,000 layoffs, and letter costs would increase from 63 cents to a dollar. As many have pointed out, Canada Post's reasons for worse service at a higher cost are bogus, based around half-truths and flat out fabrications.

 

Refugee health debate turns nasty, political

04-FEB-2014 08:44 AM   The StarPheonix, Tobi Cohen

A war of words between government officials and critics of their decision to cut health-care funding for certain refugees and asylum claimants is turning nasty and political. Late last week, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander's chief of staff tweeted that a pair of vocal physicians and spokesmen for Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care had connections to the NDP and Liberal Party respectively.

 

A new study suggests the environmental health risks of oilsands operations in Alberta’s Athabasca region have probably been underestimated. Researchers say emissions of potentially hazardous air pollution that were used in environmental reviews done before approving some projects did not include evaporation from tailings ponds or other sources, such as dust from mining sites.

 

UK falls behind on R&D investment and skills, warns BIS paper

03-FEB-2014 08:40 AM   Research, Helen Lock

An international benchmarking report analysing the UK’s science and innovation system against others has highlighted low R&D spending and a lack of home-grown talent as major weaknesses.

 

Cities urge Ottawa to reveal new infrastructure fund details

03-FEB-2014 03:38 PM   CBC News, Susanna Mas

Tags Funding

Canada's cities say with the construction season approaching there is an "urgent" need for the federal government to reveal the details of a new infrastructure plan scheduled to come into effect April 1, despite the fact that money from the new fund has already been promised to Toronto for the extension of a subway line. The Conservatives announced in last year's federal budget $14 billion over 10 years in new infrastructure money under a new Building Canada Fund but the details have yet to be made public.

 

The future of the Royal Canadian Navy’s only research vessel could be in jeopardy. The 76-metre-long CFAV Quest and its 55-member crew have been involved in defence and ground-breaking oceanographic research throughout the North Atlantic Ocean and the Canadian Arctic. However, cuts in recent years have been placing an increasing financial burden on the navy, leading to the cancellation of CFAV Quest’s research mission.

 

Keystone XL oil pipeline clears major hurdle

31-JAN-2014 03:25 PM   The Toronto Star, Matthew Daly

The long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada moved a significant step toward completion Friday as the State Department raised no major environmental objections to its construction.

 

Unsafe drugs stay on market too long, study finds

31-JAN-2014 03:21 PM   The Ottawa Citizen, Sharon Kirkey

Dangerous drugs often remain on the market in Canada for more than three years before eventually being pulled from drugstore shelves over serious safety risks, new Canadian research shows. The study, by Dr. Joel Lexchin, an emergency physician and York University professor of health policy, found that about four per cent of new drugs approved by Health Canada between January 1990 and December 2009 were eventually withdrawn for safety reasons.

 

Environment; National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy; Experimental Lakes Area; Libraries; Fisheries; Howard Elliot Is the Harper government making war on public science and research? On the surface, this seems a hyperbolic, even ludicrous assertion. But if you look more closely at what is happening in public science across the country, it might not sound quite as ridiculous. The Canada Centre for Inland Waters, once a crown jewel of Great Lakes research, has been so reduced by staffing and budget cuts, critics say it can't do its job, including adequate monitoring around the Randle Reef project. Estimates are that up to 60 science jobs have been cut in the past decade.

 

Western University has suddenly become the country’s brain trust for everything about the weather since before Canada was a country. Environment Canada is trucking 1,000 boxes full of daily climate observations dating back to the 1840s to Western, where the vast trove of information will be stored in a climate-controlled archive and eventually digitally reproduced. What makes the collection so unique is that it gives researchers and the public rare access to original weather reports — many handwritten with dip pens — containing detailed notes.

 

We can, and must improve our innovation performance

30-JAN-2014 02:42 PM   Vancouver Sun, Harvey Enchin

With all this focus on innovation, one might expect that Canada and B.C. would be global leaders, hotbeds of new ideas being brought to life to share with — and ideally to sell to — the world. Alas, neither the country nor the province is living up to the hype. The Conference Board of Canada ranks Canada 13th out of 16 peer countries on its scale of 21 indicators of innovation performance.

 

Health Minister doesn’t want any new health dollars in budget

30-JAN-2014 02:39 PM   Sun News, Giuseppe Valiante

Tags Funding Budget

Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Thursday she doesn't want any new money for health care in the upcoming federal budget. She said provinces should be satisfied with the roughly $33 billion the federal government already provides in annual health transfer payments. "There is enough money in the system," she said.

 

Canadian drill could be used for mining on the moon

31-JAN-2014 11:47 AM   The Hamilton Spectator

Tags Space

A space drill developed by a firm based in Sudbury, Ont. could be boring for water on the moon in less than five years — if everything goes according to plan. It would also signal the start of the space mining industry.

 

Nearly seven months after getting new powers making it easier to fine delinquent pipeline companies, Canada’s national energy regulator says it hasn’t yet issued any fines, choosing instead to use other options to get the industry to respect the law.

 

Contamination au pétrole : le lourd bilan du CN (French only)

30-JAN-2014 11:44 AM   Les Affaires, Hugo Joncas

Tourbière non décontaminée, 10 ans après un déraillement et une fuite majeure de diesel, écoulements toxiques dans le fleuve Saint-Laurent, éviction d’inspecteurs environnementaux… Le Canadien National affiche un lourd bilan en matière de terrains contaminés, et Québec multiplie les procédures. Dans plusieurs dossiers, le CN collabore à reculons avec le ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP). Nous avons enquêté sur certains des différends les plus sérieux entre la plus grande compagnie ferroviaire du pays et les autorités.

 

Terrains contaminés : la carte du Québec toxique (French only)

30-JAN-2014 11:35 AM   Les Affaires, Hugo Joncas

L’héritage empoisonné laissé par 160 ans d’industrialisation au Québec est difficile à mesurer précisément: les données gouvernementales de base sont un fouillis. Mais une chose est claire: les friches toxiques sont partout, et surtout en plein cœur des villes, à un jet de pierre des quartiers résidentiels. Les gouvernements québécois et fédéral répertorient 5593 emplacements qui doivent toujours être nettoyés dans la province.

 

Closing of government libraries might have violated the law, Elizabeth May says

30-JAN-2014 11:33 AM   The Globe and Mail, Gloria Galloway

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says the Conservative government may have violated two laws as it consolidated and closed research libraries in at least three federal departments – in some cases discarding material that was deemed to be surplus or allowing anyone who saw value in it to take it home.

 

One of Canada’s most prominent oil lobbyists was hired to advise the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the Experimental Lakes Area, a freshwater research facility that the federal government ordered shut in 2012.

 

The federal government says it has fixed the latest technical glitch with a new website designed to streamline Canadian applications for science funding. The website, called the Research Portal, repeatedly broke down just days before the deadline for Insight Development Grants — a $7,000 to $75,000 grant available from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

 

Crude oil shipments by rail on the rise in B.C. despite Lac-Mégantic disaster

27-JAN-2014 11:28 AM   Ottawa Citizen, Matthew Robinson and Mike De Souza

Shipments of crude oil by rail are steaming forward in B.C. even as investigators said Thursday the federal government has failed to eliminate "critical weaknesses" in the rail system in the six months since the deadly Lac-Mégantic train disaster.

 

Too little is known about products from Alberta’s oilsands to assess whether spills in rivers or coastal areas could be effectively cleaned up, according to a recent report for a U.S. government agency. The scientists writing for the emergency response division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say it is unclear whether diluted bitumen will float in water and for how long the molasses-like mixture will remain at the surface.

 

Librarians Protest Canada Cutbacks

26-JAN-2014 11:22 AM   The New York Times

Tags Funding

A move by the Canadian government to shrink the number of its departmental research libraries is drawing fire from some academics, who fear a loss of data and trained personnel and damage to the country’s ability to carry out research.

 

DND budget turf stymied hiring of psychiatrists, social workers: sources

26-JAN-2014 11:20 AM   Maclean’s, The Canadian Press

Tags Health

A bureaucratic, budgetary turf war that has stymied the hiring of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals at National Defence may be finally coming to an end in the wake of a suicide crisis that’s gripped the military.

 

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; Natural Resources Canada; Parks Canada; the Public Service Commission; Public Works and Government Services Canada; and Transport Canada had plans to shut down or consolidate libraries in 2012, while Environment Canada; Health Canada; the Transportation Safety Board; and the Canadian Transportation Agency made similar decisions more recently.

 

La nouvelle présidente de l’IPFPC prête à se battre (French only)

25-JAN-2014 11:17 AM   Le Droit, Paul Gaboury

Tags Funding

La nouvelle présidente de l'Institut professionnel de la fonction publique du Canada (IPFPC), Debi Daviau, n'a pas l'intention de baisser les bras devant les attaques répétées du gouvernement conservateur contre le secteur public fédéral et le mouvement syndical.

 

Transport Canada gets new warning from watchdog

25-JAN-2014 11:14 AM   Calgary Herald, Mike De Souza

For at least the second time in about a month, Transport Canada has been chastised by Parliament’s information watchdog. The federal department prompted numerous complaints last fall when it requested extensions of up to a year on the release of records through access to information legislation. In one of the latest investigations, the office of Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault concluded that the department had broken the law when it failed to respond to a request for an internal audit from 2006 on dangerous goods, requesting an extension of more than one year. The watchdog also noted that the department finally sent out its response in December 2013, but had attempted to make it look like it had responded earlier.

 

A federal government decision to cut health care coverage for some refugee claimants is actually more expensive in the long-run than simply paying for their benefits upfront, Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews is warning in the latest salvo in the back-and-forth turf battle between the province and Ottawa.

 

Let’s debate focus on commercially driven scientific research

21-JAN-2014 11:07 AM   The Chronicle Herald, Eric Newstadt

In what has mistakenly been dubbed a veritable “war on science,” the government of Canada appears to be pursuing a scorched-earth policy around the kind of research that many Canadians value: research that is pursued in the public’s interest. Indeed, all manner of media outlets, have been apt to criticize the federal government’s muzzling of scientists and defunding of research programs dealing with everything from climate change to oceanography.

 

The Ontario government is proposing regulations that would allow scientists to legally conduct experiments at a world-renowned outdoor freshwater laboratory where no new research has been done since the federal government pulled out of an operating agreement five months ago.

 

The federal Joint Review Panel report recommending Ottawa approve Northern Gateway has a number of flaws, errors and misrepresentations. The issues are serious enough that several environmental groups and two First Nations have asked the federal court for a judicial review.

 

There are at least 20 fewer federal research scientists at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington after a wave of government cutbacks over the past three years.

 

Health Canada library changes leave scientists scrambling

20-JAN-2014 10:36 AM   CBC News, Laura Payton, Max Paris

Health Canada scientists are so concerned about losing access to their research library that they're finding workarounds, with one squirrelling away journals and books in his basement for colleagues to consult, says a report obtained by CBC News.The draft report from a consultant hired by the department warned it not to close its library, but the report was rejected as flawed and the advice went unheeded.

 

Librarians Say Culings Signify Harper’s New Info Policy

18-JAN-2014 10:33 AM   The Tyee, Andrew Nikiforuk

Tags Funding Budget

Librarians who witnessed an unprecedented federal library downsizing as well as the closures of seven world famous science libraries at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) say the cullings indicate a major shift to "minimalist government."

 

Safety first on fish farms

18-JAN-2014 10:30 AM   Times Colonist, Editorial

Assurances that the federal government is making major investments in aquaculture research sound a little hollow coming from an entity that just closed regional Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries and appears to have little respect for environmental science.

 

Scientists in Canada are up in arms over the recent closure of more than a dozen federal science libraries run by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Environment Canada. Scientists fear that valuable archival information is being lost, and that the government, which is seen as hostile to environmental science, has little interest in preserving it.

 

Study could have altered Gateway report : scientist

16-JAN-2014 10:12 AM   The Prince George Citizen, Peter James

Information in a new report on what would happen if diluted bitumen spilled in the marine environment could have changed the way the federal Joint Review Panel examining the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline reached its conclusions, according to a witness for one intervener group.

 

Les orientations annoncées de la future stratégie canadienne en matière de sciences, de technologie et d'innovation inquiètent grandement la Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d'université (FQPPU), qui craint ses effets irréversibles dans les milieux scientifiques et éducatifs. Les trois axes proposés par le gouvernement dans son document de consultation...

 

Last week, CBC’s Fifth Estate presented an excellent summary of the Harper government’s approach toward basic research in Canada. “Silence of the Labs” (viewable at cbc.ca) enumerates the many ways Ottawa is conducting a war of attrition on science.

 

Campaign to raise research awareness

15-JAN-2014 10:10 AM   The Western Gazette, Alex Sager

Tags Funding Budget

Students are being encouraged to get creative and share their experiences with research at their universities, an issue which has become a national concern in the face of federal spending cuts to scientific research. “We Teach Ontario” is a contest targeted at students launched by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, which represents faculty at all of Ontario’s universities. Students are being asked to submit videos about how combined research and teaching has inspired them.

 

Harper, ou la science orwellienne (French only)

15-JAN-2014 10:24 AM   Le Devoir, Jean-Patrick Toussaint

La série noire scientifique se déroulant sous nos yeux depuis les dernières années au pays n’est pas sans rappeler un monde orwellien. Or, avec sa croisade contre toute science faisant obstruction à ses idées, le gouvernement Harper ajoute un tome à celle-ci : à bas les bibliothèques scientifiques de Pêches et Océans Canada et les ouvrages qu’elles contiennent ! Ces fermetures, connues depuis quelque temps, refont surface alors que la nouvelle s’est propagée en France et fit l’objet d’un texte dans le quotidien Le Monde.

 

Ethical challenges of open-access publishing

15-JAN-2014 10:08 AM   University Affairs

The executive editors of an open-access journal called BioéthiqueOnline enthusiastically support the initiatives of the federal and provincial funding agencies to encourage open-access publication of academic research findings. They subscribe to the view that research funded by Canadian taxpayers should be made publicly available and that advocating in favour of accessibility of research findings is about ensuring the free flow of ideas and knowledge among the scientific community, being publicly accountable and making the best out of limited resources. But, they also think that bona fide OA publishing needs a little bit of financial support from these same agencies.

 

NDP MP Pat Martin is asking Conservative and opposition members of a Commons committee that provides oversight over government operations and budgeting to support a call for the Parliamentary budget officer to investigate and report on the effect of climate change on federal government programs and disaster relief costs.

 

Bitumen floats at sea, study finds

15-JAN-2014 09:56 AM   Nanaimo News, Tom Fletcher

A new federal government study by Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources has found that diluted bitumen floats in sea water, except when it is mixed with some types of sediment, which can make it heavy enough to sink. The federal government has funded an ocean-based study of spilled bitumen as part of its shipping safety program, launched in the 2012 budget and now labelled the "World Class Initiative."

 

Le bitume dilué des sables bitumineux, qui pourrait être transporté dans l'oléoduc Northern Gateway si le projet devait se réaliser, a la propriété de couler au fond de la mer lorsqu'il est mêlé à des sédiments et battu par les vagues, conclut une récente étude du gouvernement fédéral.

 

Le NPD et le Bloc québécois n’en reviennent tout simplement pas qu’Ottawa transfère à l’Office national de l’énergie (ONE) la responsabilité de déterminer si un projet de pipeline aura un impact sur les poissons et les espèces aquatiques en péril. Ils se demandent si le gouvernement conservateur peut modifier ainsi le processus d’évaluation environnementale sans l’aval du Parlement.

 

Le déni d’Ottawa (French)

21-AUG-2014 03:47 PM   Brigitte Breton, Le Soleil

Ottawa prétend qu'il veut renforcer la sécurité ferroviaire. Pourtant, pas un mot dans le communiqué de la ministre Lisa Raitt sur l'autoréglementation et sur la façon dont Transports Canada compte dorénavant traiter les systèmes de gestion de la sécurité présentés par les compagnies ferroviaires. Ce n'est guère rassurant. Faudra-t-il d'autres innocentes victimes pour corriger les lacunes importantes relevées mardi par le Bureau de la sécurité des transports et précédemment, et à plus d'une reprise, par le Vérificateur général du Canada?

 

In a recent speech to the Canadian Medical Association, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said something no cabinet minister ought to have to say out loud: that her boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and his government are firm believers in evidence-based policy. The fact that Ambrose felt the need to assert publicly that her government drafts policy based on facts — not on hunches, hearsay or blind ideology — highlights the Harper government’s essential problem when it comes to getting Canadians to sign on to its program: It does not believe in fact-based policy and seldom feels the need to behave as if it does. The Conservatives believe in ideology over evidence. They believe in belief. For proof, look no further than Ambrose’s own portfolio.

 

Quand le climat devient une urgence de santé publique (French)

30-AUG-2014 01:44 PM   Amélie Daoust-Boisvert, Le Devoir

Les changements climatiques sont la plus grande menace à la santé du XXIe siècle, lance Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers, étudiante en médecine à l’Université de Montréal. Mais ils sont aussi une occasion d’améliorer la santé mondiale, en cessant d’investir dans le carbone et en choisissant des énergies vertes et renouvelables.