Environment and Climate Change Canada is responding to online reports that it says falsely accuse the department of hiring officers to control climate change.
“We are aware of some misleading reports on social media suggesting that we are creating a new app feature,” the ministry wrote in a series of tweets Thursday.
“It’s wrong and we have to set the record straight.”
The tweets also focused on claims about a replacement facility for environmental law enforcement officers in Winnipeg.
According to an article published more than a week ago by The Counter Signal, a far-right publication, the “new” office will include an “arsenal of firearms”, interrogation rooms, “biological laboratories ” and “silent controlled” rooms.
The article included shots showing areas labeled “gun storage”, “intelligence” and “controlled quiet”.
“The plans… open a window on [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau’s future plans for the climate app,” the article asserts.
1/9 We are aware of some misleading reports on social media suggesting that we are creating a new app feature. This is false and we must set the record straight. pic.twitter.com/cniVCHsyC5
The ministry said in its tweets that the floor plans shared on social media are real and the office is in the process of moving to a new location in Winnipeg.
“But the way the facility is described is completely wrong,” the ministry said. “Our law enforcement officers are professional, dedicated and highly trained, and we are proud of the work they do every day to protect Canada’s environment, wildlife and habitats.”
The floor plans were shared publicly in July 2021 as part of a contracting process to secure renovation services, the department said in an email to CBC News.
The execution branch dates back to 2008
The article alleged that the department’s job posting on Indeed.com sought to recruit “a battalion of climate ‘pollution’ officers”.
The ministry’s job posting is titled “Enforcement Officer – Environmental (Pollution) Law Enforcement – Development Program”.
The announcement states that the enforcement arm of the ministry ensures compliance with several laws that aim to protect the natural environment and its biodiversity.
“Our enforcement responsibilities cover more than 60 regulations,” the ministry added in its statement.
In 2015, for example, the ministry fined a construction company in Windsor, Ontario $7,500 for destroying bank swallow nests and eggs after an inspection by an environmental officer. .
The law enforcement branch dates back to 2008, recruits regularly and is in the process of hiring new officers to maintain its existing workforce, the ministry said in its tweets.
“Our officers enforce many federal environmental laws that prevent pollution and protect Canada’s wildlife and biodiversity,” the department said in one of its tweets.
“They are not climate change law enforcement officers. Our environmental officers spend most of their time enforcing laws and regulations that prevent pollution, such as the prevention provisions. pollution of the Fisheries Act.”
UCP candidate jumps on ‘climate police’ report
According to the announcement, law enforcement officers are required to wear uniforms and carry safety equipment, such as body armor, handcuffs, batons and prohibited weapons such as than pepper spray.
Four days after the article appeared, in an Aug. 27 tweet linking to the job posting, one of seven people vying to become the new leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) accused Trudeau of hiring “climate change enforcement officers”.
“As premier, we will not allow any federal climate cops to operate in Alberta under the Alberta Sovereignty Act,” said Danielle Smith.
Smith was referring to her flagship campaign proposal, which she said would give Alberta the power to refuse to enforce federal laws and policies that are not deemed to be in the province’s best interests.
Smith’s tweet included a fake ad for “Justin Trudeau’s Climate Police” with a photo of the awkward lead character from Paul Blart: Mall Cop and a list of job benefits that include “handcuffs, batons, and weapons.”
The tweet says the ideal candidate likes Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, the “WEF” and “Greta”.
“WEF” appears to be a reference to the World Economic Forum, an international non-governmental lobby group that has been the subject of widespread political conspiracy theories. Smith’s campaign team did not clarify whether the reference to “Greta” was meant to refer to Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
CBC News also asked Smith’s campaign team if they had a reaction to the ministry’s tweets.
“As Danielle has said repeatedly, she will work collaboratively with the caucus to ensure that the Sovereignty Act is drafted in accordance with sound constitutional language and principles,” a campaign spokesperson said. .
Environment and Climate Change Canada did not confirm to CBC News that its “misleading reports” tweets referred to the Counter Signal article and Smith’s tweet.
After the UCP’s latest leadership debate on Tuesday, Smith again suggested that the department “hire law enforcement officers with guns to enforce [rules against pollution].”
Firearms intended to protect against animals: official
An Environment and Climate Change official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the article, said “base stations” like the one in Winnipeg serve as headquarters for wildlife officers and officers. environmental protection.
While some wildlife officers may carry licensed shotguns to protect against predatory animals, environmental officers are not armed “in any situation”, he said.
Gun storage areas like the one shown in the plan are needed “in case they need to hold or confiscate guns if they come across hunters or someone carrying out illegal activities,” the official said. responsible.
Laboratories are needed for wild bird dissections, he added.
“These are the types of facilities that already exist across the country,” he said. “There are dozens of them. They have been around for a long time.”
Department officers working on cases routinely take statements from witnesses who require designated interview rooms, the department said in its statement.
“There are also secure storage areas for samples. Some offices have small, enclosed ‘quiet rooms’ used for work that requires a high degree of concentration and where officers can work uninterrupted.”
“How are conspiracy theories made”
The article then linked the “climate police arsenal” to an incident last month in which, according to the department, hydrologists taking samples near a highway in Saskatchewan were told by a landowner that they were actually on private land.
The Saskatchewan government accused Ottawa of trespassing.
The article also said the federal government intended to “reduce fertilizer use on Canadian farms,” a claim previously made by conservative pundits and politicians.
This is not what the government has said it wants to do. While Ottawa has pledged to reduce emissions from fertilizers by 30%, it has also pledged to achieve this goal without resorting to mandatory reductions in nitrogen fertilizer use.
Ahmed Al-Rawi, an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University who studies online extremist movements, said the article relied on one fact – plans for a new law enforcement office – and “ from there [proceeded] with a lot of imagination to build a whole narrative around a so-called secret plan to control people or harm them.
“That’s how conspiracy theories are actually made up,” he said.