What’s agency do­ing prob­ing ‘cli­mate de­nial’?

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - OPINION - LOR­RIE GOLD­STEIN lgo­ld­stein@post­media.com

It’s like some­thing out of Ge­orge Or­well’s 1984.

Canada’s Com­pe­ti­tion Bureau, an arm’s length agency funded by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment to the tune of al­most $50 mil­lion an­nu­ally, in­ves­ti­gated three or­ga­ni­za­tions ac­cused of deny­ing main­stream cli­mate science for over a year, fol­low­ing a com­plaint from an en­vi­ron­men­tal group.

The bureau dis­con­tin­ued its 14-month probe in June, cit­ing “avail­able ev­i­dence, the as­sess­ment of the facts in this case, and to en­sure the ef­fec­tive al­lo­ca­tion of limited re­sources,” ac­cord­ing to Josephine A.L. Palumbo, deputy com­mis­sioner of com­pe­ti­tion in the De­cep­tive Mar­ket­ing Prac­tices Direc­torate.

But it will re-open its in­ves­ti­ga­tion should it re­ceive rel­e­vant new in­for­ma­tion from the pub­lic.

The com­plaint was filed by Eco­jus­tice on be­half of six “prom­i­nent” Cana­di­ans, in­clud­ing for­mer On­tario NDP leader and UN am­bas­sador Stephen Lewis.

It ac­cused three groups, Friends of Science, the In­ter­na­tional Cli­mate Science Coali­tion, and the Heart­land In­sti­tute, of mak­ing false and mis­lead­ing claims about cli­mate change, in­clud­ing that the sun is the main driver of cli­mate change, not car­bon diox­ide, and that car­bon diox­ide is not a pol­lu­tant.

When it launched its com­plaint in De­cem­ber 2015, Eco­jus­tice told the Na­tional Ob­server it would press the com­mis­sioner of com­pe­ti­tion to re­fer the mat­ter to the at­tor­ney-gen­eral of Canada for “crim­i­nal charges against the de­nier groups.”

In re­sponse to the Com­pe­ti­tion Bureau dis­con­tin­u­ing its probe, Cal­gary-based Friends of Science said on its blog: “The Com­pe­ti­tion Bureau is a very im­por­tant en­force­ment agency. We re­gret that any of their time had to be wasted on this mat­ter. We are not a com­mer­cial en­tity, we do not have fed­eral lob­by­ists, we are not tax-sub­si­dized as en­vi­ron­men­tal char­i­ties are, we do not rep­re­sent any in­dus­try. We only present the pro­fes­sional in­sights and ex­per­tise of our core team and rep­re­sent the views of our in­di­vid­ual mem­bers (not cor­po­ra­tions). The typ­i­cal process for Com­pe­ti­tion Bureau in­quiries is con­fi­den­tial; Eco­jus­tice ap­peared to use this call for in­quiry to grand­stand.”

In May 2015, Ad­ver­tis­ing Stan­dards Canada, a vol­un­tary in­dus­try group that does not en­force its de­ci­sions other than through pub­lic sua­sion, ruled, fol­low­ing 96 pub­lic com­plaints, that two Friends of Science bill­boards in Mon­treal stat­ing “The sun is the main driver of cli­mate change. Not you. Not CO2” con­tained, “cat­e­gor­i­cal and un­equiv­o­cal claims . . . (that) could not be sup­ported by the pre­pon­der­ance of cur­rent ev­i­dence on the mat­ters in dis­pute . . . (and) omit­ted rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion, namely that a num­ber of fac­tors have led to cli­mate change, of which the sun is just one.”

As some­one who has writ­ten ex­ten­sively on cli­mate change for a decade, my view is that all of this is mad­ness. We are en­ter­ing into dan­ger­ous ter­ri­tory, a fun­da­men­tal at­tack on free speech.

If we’re go­ing to use agen­cies of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to in­ves­ti­gate and even pros­e­cute “cli­mate de­niers” for mak­ing “false and mis­lead­ing claims,” then let’s do the same for cli­mate alarmists who do the same thing.

I read and hear politi­cians mak­ing “false and mis­lead­ing claims” about cli­mate change al­most daily, par­tic­u­larly with re­gard to what fed­eral and pro­vin­cial car­bon pric­ing schemes will ac­com­plish, as op­posed to what our gov­ern­ments are claim­ing they will ac­com­plish.

But the way to de­cide th­ese is­sues is through pub­lic de­bate, not run­ning to an agency of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to shut up peo­ple we dis­agree with, par­tic­u­larly a gov­ern­ment that it­self makes false and mis­lead­ing claims about man-made cli­mate change all the time.

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