Harper Tories set to bury important climate change report

Media strategy will try to minimize reporting of harmful impact on the young, the elderly and aboriginals

 

Ottawa (28 July 2008) - The Harper Conservatives are apparently planning to downplay a major Health Canada report warning of the harmful impact of climate change, especially to the young, the elderly and aboriginals.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that instructions have already gone out to prepare for a "low-profile release" for a report of more than 500 pages in length entitled Human Health in a Changing Climate: A Canadian Assessment of Vulnerabilities and Adaptive Capacity. It has been ready to release for several months.

The newspaper says the plan at the moment is to post the report without notice on the department's website rather than making it public in the normal way at a formal media event.

The Conservatives gave similar treatment last year to a major study by Natural Resources Canada entitled From Impacts to Adaptation. That report, which warned of the specific impact of climate change for each region of the country, was posted without any notice on a hard-to-locate section of a government website.

The tactic worked – the report was largely overlooked by the media – but it left a trail of frustration among the public employees, scientists and academics who worked on the project. Similar frustration is now beginning to surface over the upcoming Health Canada study, the Globe reports.

The David Suzuki Foundation, which has been critical of the government's climate-change policies, expressed exasperation upon learning of the media strategy. The government should be giving such reports as much exposure as possible, the foundation argues.

"If this government cared about climate change, then it would highlight these reports and use them as a way of engaging Canadians on the importance of addressing the issue," said environmentalist Dale Marshall. NUPGE

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