Tories muzzle environmental scientist: Catch a fire

Catch a fire

Too hot for Harper?

First he gagged the press, now he’s out to clean up CanLit.

Mere days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper got up in the House of Commons and claimed his Accountability Act would protect civil servants who speak out about unethical behaviour, Mark Tushingham, a scientist with Environment Canada, got an e-mail from the Environment Minister’s office.

Tushingham was just about to give a presentation on the science behind his novel Hotter Than Hell at the National Press Club. Released last November with little fanfare, it’s about the Earth becoming so hot from climate change that America and Canada are at war over water.

"I was entering the elevator 15 minutes before the event when I got a call on my cellphone," says Tushingham’s publisher, Elizabeth Margaris at DreamCatcher Publishing. "[Tushingham] said, ‘I’ve got bad news. I can’t go.’ He was told [by the Environment Minister's office] not to appear."

While Tushingham himself was not available for comment, Margaris told Hour, "This is just outrageous. Mark can’t talk but I can. They can’t fire me. They can’t gag me."

Officially, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose’s office told Tushingham not to attend because he was billed as a government speaker. But an ad for the April 13 Newsmaker Luncheon billed Tushingham as an Ottawa environmental scientist, as does the back of his book.

Perhaps more telling is the fact that on the same day Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn issued a release stating 15 programs related to the Kyoto Protocol will be eliminated. Says Margaris, "When we asked why [Tushingham's presentation] was shut down, the minister said it was ‘bad timing.’ But how were we supposed to know that the government was going to make an announcement that they were cutting 80 per cent of Kyoto programs?"

Margaris continues, "The science within [Tushingham's] book is all in the public domain, there’s nothing revolutionary here. Besides, it’s fiction. It’s written by a scientist about what he envisions happening in the future."

Posted in