Reporters Curious About Tar Sands Not Very Welcome in Canada

May 28, 2014

Reporter Emily Atkin of the Climate Progress blog told recently of flying into Fort McMurray, Alberta to see the tar sands and being hassled for some 45 minutes by "security" officials because she was a journalist.

The experience was not unique. The border official trying to scare off inquiring reporters provided a lead for a long article reporting the Canadian government's campaign of hostility to journalism and science that might question tar sands development. "We might have to send you back to the States," the security official told Atkin when he learned she was covering tar sands.

Representatives of the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, who are staunch allies of oil, did not rush to disavow the "security" official's behavior. They were happy to leave the impression that journalists covering the tar sands might be harassed and turned back.

Atkin reports: "Border spokesperson Lisa White said she was not authorized to speak on specific cases, and declined to specify whether officers were allowed to make entry decisions based on the content of journalists' work. She did say, however, that documentary filmmakers required working papers to enter Canada, and that all entry decisions are made on a case-by-case basis."