Federal policies block communication on everything from drugs to climate: report

Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare, commander Canadian Joint Operations Command, speaks to the media in Wainwright, Alta., in May 2013. ~ PHOTO by SGT. MATTHEW MCGREGOR/COMBAT CAMERA

Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare, commander Canadian Joint Operations Command, speaks to the media in Wainwright, Alta., in May 2013.
~ PHOTO by SGT. MATTHEW MCGREGOR/COMBAT CAMERA

The Harper government’s preoccupation with message control has earned several federal departments a failing grade for communication.

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Federal government ices polar briefings

Ice floes float in Baffin Bay above the Arctic circle as seen from the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent on July 10, 2008. ~ JONATHAN HAYWARD CP

Ice floes float in Baffin Bay above the Arctic circle as seen from the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent on July 10, 2008.
~ JONATHAN HAYWARD CP

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.

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Migrating shorebirds — and the goo they eat — is a sticky issue for Port Metro Vancouver Will giant new terminal threaten the sandpiper?

 Western Sandpipers flocking near Roberts Bank  ~ BEN NELMS for Postmedia


Western Sandpipers flocking near Roberts Bank ~ BEN NELMS for Postmedia

Published: April 30 2014

VANCOUVER — The sandpipers are right on schedule, hundreds of thousands of them touching down on the mudflats just south of the city.

The “peeps” are here to refuel, some almost doubling their weight in just a few days. Then the tiny aerial acrobats liftoff continuing their marathon journey to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.

The world’s western sandpipers migrate up the Pacific coast touching down at the Fraser Delta each spring. They arrive like clockwork to slurp up the gooey biofilm on the mudflats — goo that has created a rather sticky issue for a massive port expansion planned just south of Vancouver.

Port Metro Vancouver believes its megaport, known as Roberts Banks Terminal 2, and the “peeps” can coexist.

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Superbugs slipping through ‘gaps’ and ‘loopholes’ in Canadian regulations

Electron microscope image of a C. difficile producing a spore.  PHOTO: DAVID GOUDLING

Electron microscope image of a C. difficile producing a spore.
PHOTO: DAVID GOUDLING

Published: February 20, 2014

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.

The doctors say the Harper government also needs to file gaps in oversight and provide much more “timely” surveillance reports on the resistant microbes found not only in Canadian health-care facilities but farmyards and meat counters.

The lack of a Canadian action plan is “an international embarrassment,” Dr. John Conly, medical director of infection prevention and control at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, told a Senate committee in Ottawa last week. Continue reading

Last chapter for many federal science libraries

Books and reports from a Department of Fisheries library at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont Joli, Que., tossed into a dumpster, according to scientists distributing the photo.

Books and reports from a Department of Fisheries library at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont Joli, Que., tossed into a dumpster, according to scientists distributing the photo.

January 9, 2014 – Environment Canada has a phone number for its library in Calgary. But a meteorologist answers, and he can’t say what’s become of the books.

It’s a similar story in Edmonton and Quebec City where federal libraries, with shelves loaded with reference books and scientific reports on everything from beluga whales to songbirds, now exist only in name.

Environment Canada lists the libraries on its website but the books are long gone. Continue reading

Feds blocking information on illness-causing bacteria, doctors charge

0820-MICROBIO-LAB
Published: November 17, 2013, 2:01 pm

The federal government is hobbling efforts to control antibiotic-resistant microbes by sitting on reports about bacteria that sicken and kill thousands of Canadians each year, several doctors say.

Infectious disease experts say Ottawa is treating national microbial surveillance reports like “sensitive government documents.” And the doctors are so frustrated, they are releasing the data they can obtain on their own website.

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Closure of fisheries’ libraries called a ‘disaster’ for science

Rare books on the shelf at DFO's St. Andrews library ~  SOS

Rare books on the shelf at DFO’s St. Andrews library ~ SOS

April 14, 2013 _ The libraries are home to the 50 illustrated volumes from Britain’s Challenger expedition that sailed the seas in the late 1800s exploring the mysteries of the deep.
The shelves heave with reports detailing the DDT pollution that wiped out young salmon in New Brunswick’s “rivers of death” in the 1950s. And they contain vivid reminders of native fisheries, Canada’s once vast cod stocks and the U.S. submarines that prowled the quiet fjords along the B.C. coast in the 1940s — history that is being packed into boxes as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans “consolidates” its world-class library collection.

Seven DFO libraries across Canada are to close by the fall, including two that have been amassing books and technical reports on the aquatic realm for more than a century. Continue reading