As the federal Conservative government continues its attack on the basic rights and freedoms of Canadian citizens (witness recent stories about voter-suppression and the controversial internet surveillance bill), we are freshly reminded of the anti-democratic and potentially illegal bullying this government is engaged in behind closed doors.
Yesterday, Peter Kent, Canada's Minister of the Environment, was asked a simple question by the Huffington Post editorial board that deserved a simple answer (view the full conversation here):
Q: Last month, troubling accusations were made that your government and the Prime Minister's Office have made backroom threats to remove the charitable status of environmental protection organizations in an attempt to stymie the voices of Canadians who oppose pipeline development from the Alberta oil sands. Do you agree that, if these accusations are true (as represented in Andrew Frank's affadavit from 23 January 2012), it is an affront to Canadian democracy and the processes that protect our nation's common interest?
Will you go on the record, stating that environmental protection and conservation groups are not enemies of the state, nor of the government of Canada, by virtue of their opposition to any development plan or industrial endeavour?
Here is Minister Kent's convoluted non-answer:
A: First of all I think we have to recognize there is no single category of environmental non-governmental agency (NGO). There is quite a range and the focus of their interest or opposition to resource projects, for example, is again a very broad range. There are some groups which would, as the Prime Minister said, reduce Canada to one great national park, with no resource development of any sort. There are others who are narrowly focused on one specific issue with regard to resource development. There are some who may have hidden agendas and some of the offshore, foreign funding, and we do have a concern about money coming from abroad that could represent rival resource interests disguised as environmental concern. In other words, to protect market or some other interest.
In question to those who say, "Why are you concerned about foreign money coming in from opponents to resource projects when you're not against money being spent by the resource companies themselves in promoting their engagement?" Well the resource companies are doing it as responsible guest corporate citizens. They're investing, they're paying taxes, they're paying royalties, they're being regulated... blah, blah, blah, read the whole non-answer here.
In his long-winded non-answer, Minister Kent managed to completely dodge the original question, and even managed to answer a question that hadn't been asked.
Whether you are concerned about the environment or not, I think all Canadians can agree that a government has lost the moral authority to govern when it starts labeling its own citizens "enemies."
Add that to your lists of reasons to vote ABC (Anything But Conservative) in the next federal election.