Think WikiLeaks will cause more government secrecy? Think back to the Somalia inquiry

The latest WikiLeaks revelation was interesting, but hardly blockbuster material. During a conversation with the U.S. ambassador to Canada, which seemed designed to curry favour with the Obama administration than anything else, former environment minister, Jim Prentice, talked about the oilsands.

In a moment of refreshing candor, Prentice is reported to have said that his government was “too slow” to react to the negative perceptions raised by environmentalists who complained about Alberta’s dirty oil. He also apparently talked about the R-word: regulation. That is, he was prepared to impose regulations if the oil industry failed to act. This is a contingency that the current environment minister, John Baird, seems reluctant to even mention, preferring instead to consign such discussion the realm of the hypothetical.

Given that Prentice was generally seen as one of the more progressive members of the Harper cabinet, it’s not surprising that he would be concerned enough about the issue to raise concerns at the diplomatic level. And the leaked cable does come at a time when the oilsands are once again in the news and subject of a scathing report that has forced the Harper government to concede that the status quo is no longer viable.


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