Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Oct. 17:

A reader requested that I publish a copy of a sample post I sent to government for information.
If you do it on an access to information form ( which would be found on the government website), it's a  simple matter. There are simply a few lines to fill - and send it off.

If you start with a regular post, as I have done below. Then you have some flexibility. I try to keep it short and specific. If I don't get an answer to this, then I'll do the same sending it to my local member - and also to a convenient Liberal member to get a question raised in the assembly.

If that doesn't work, then I go to the environment ministry website for an official access to information request.

In the one below, though I don't say it, I am really after information about whether the provincial government cares anything at all about soil contamination. That's why I ask whether land owners are required by law to clean contaminated sites, then ask how many of the 885 sites have been cleaned. Was Highfield Square reported? When? (The implication is that if the site was reported, why was the owner not required to clean it up?)

To the Ministry of the Environment;

Today's Moncton paper carries a story that there are some 885 contaminated sites in the province. (Those, at least, are the reported ones.) I need answers to several questions on that.

1. Does a report of a contaminated site (if confirmed) place the owner under obligation to clean it?
2. If so, how many of the 885 reported sites are being cleaned?
3. Is Highfield Square in Moncton one of the reported sites?
4. If so, when was it reported?
5. Is any list of reported sites available?
6. If so, does it contain the date for the reception of each report?

Any assistance in this would be much appreciated.

Graeme Decarie

So far, no response or even acknowledgement. The next stage comes soon. In fact, I may go directly to the official request under access to information.

Today's editorial was predictable. It was high praise for Dr. Lapierre's report on shale gas. It doesn't even mention  the report of Dr. Cleary, the chief medical officer. (Dr. Lapierre is mentioned, I note,as the first recipient of the K.C.Irving Chair in Sustainable Development.. This illustrates two things 1. The things an Irving can say with a straight face 2.The intrusion, through money, of corporations into our universities.
None of this suggests that Dr. Lapierre's report is invalid or dishonest. Indeed, it seems closely in tune with that of Dr. Cleary - the chief difference being Dr. Lapierre's open statement of a speedy go ahead - though with great planning beforehand and tough enforcement. The Lapierre report is by no means a sell-out. It wants the early stages to be well regulated, and to be small.)

The TandT is pimping for his report because the explicit go-ahead is there. The TandT, the gas industry, and the government know quite well they can do a go-ahead, and just fake the rest.

Dr.Cleary, again, gets buried on A2. And, again, the editor chooses a laid-back headline "Lot of time for health measures:MD". Yeah. Relax, everybody. That's the thrust of her report. No need to worry. After all, Scarlett O'Hara had it right when she said, "Tomorrow is another day." - just as the gas industry has it right when it says, "Frankly, Lapierre and Cleary, we don't give a damn.

The gas industry is already preparing for tomorrow.They have a big spread on C4 about how shale gas royalties in New Brunswick are too high. So guess how they will react to demands for more research, closer monitoring, etc. And guess whose side the government and the TandT will be on. And guess what your chances are of a really independent oversight committee to check on what effect the industry is having on the province.

There's another big story on Syria that gives almost no sense of what is happening there. For example, it does not mention that the rebels are equipped, paid, trained and have special ops from the UK, US, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the emirates. In particular, it doesn't mention that a high proportion of the Free Syrian Army that is loading up on western weapons and training - and money - is al Quaeda. As happened in  Libya, the US, in particular, is actually a major supplier of weapons for the people it calls terror groups.

Nor does it mention that the the rebels of the "Free Syrian Army" have been driving out Syrian Christians to cleanse the new Syria.

Almost all of this news is coming from only one source, a British haberdasher who calls himself the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. He says the Syrian air force is using cluster bombs which are forbidden by international convention. Quite true - though it might have added perspective it he had mentioned that the US has ignored that convention for years. Nor is it the only one.

Nor does it mention the possibility that Syria, Lebanon and Israel have huge deposits of natural gas.

For two days in a row, the front page has carried a major story that Denis Lozier is retiring from his job as head of an insurance company. He was also in politics, and did volunteer work.


Why two front page stories in two days?  Not enough ads to fill space?

Finally, for those who lives are low in thrills, there is a huge change, moving the editorial page back by one to make room for an additional page of letters to the editor. (The original letters to the editor page continues in its usual spot. Why more letters? Well, I suspect that they're cheaper than paying people to report and to write commentaries.

They must be breaking in a new editor, too. Pages D6 and D9  have the same letter. I don't believe I have ever seen that in a newspaper before. Of course, it could be an attempt at stereo letters.

Oh, C12 is a special page - a whole page of colour photos of little groups lined up, and holding oversized cheques. These people are volunteers; and I admire them for what they do. And, occasionally, a paper should mention this sort of thing. But it does this every day, and it's often a whole page. I mean, you see people  holding a big cheque, shaking hands, and smiling at the camera. That's it. It doesn't change a whole lot from one day to another. Why does TandT do this?

Part of it is  "feel good", "Moncton is a great town", "Aw, gee, isn't that nice."

But some if it is, I suspect, to divert attention from the real issue. Why is it that so many essential institutions like schools, hospital, food banks have to rely so heavily on volunteers to operate adequate programmes in this city? Why is it that so many large and wealthy corporations can get money, rebates, etc. from the government without having Mr. Irving lead its execs in a walk through the streets in bathing suits and high heels to raise money?

Oh, Irving Shipbuilding is going to court of prevent the public from getting any information about its government contracts. Well, why should the common people know what's in those contract? If  Irving has decided they're okay, that's surely good enough.

Surprisingly, the story didn't make the TandT. Check it out in yesterday's Chronicle-Herald. And maybe we should all write letter to the Chronicle-Herald protesting this gross breach of Irving privacy.

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