New Parks Canada media policy spurs controversy

A new Parks Canada policy regulating what information can be released to the media is facing backlash.

Policy requires information requests to go through national office

A new Parks Canada policy regulating what information can be released to the media is facing backlash.

The policy forbids employees from speaking to the media without approval and requires all requests for information to go through a national office. While many aren't happy with the move, they say they aren't surprised the Harper government is tightening its control of Parks Canada communications.

"This is just how this government operates, increasingly," said Chris Turner, author of The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Willful Blindness in Stephen Harper's Canada. "They do not trust their own sort of rank and file to do their duties and to speak frankly but honestly about what they know."

Parks Canada refused to confirm any details of the policy change, except to say in an email that it adopted a "standardized media protocol to ensure consistency in the delivery of messages across the country."

However, there are reports the policy change includes requiring reporters to submit question lists in advance and implementing a 20-day period during which the central office will review and approve park information bulletins.

"It's a foundation of a democracy that you have free and accessible information that is not kept from view," said Cliff Wallis, vice president of the Alberta Wilderness Association. "This is akin to being in a third-world country."

CBC News has made numerous requests for more details on the policy.

Parks Canada has refused to do any interviews.


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