Some tweets on Kenney’s Farcical Room:
Justin Giovannetti @justinCgio
War room update from Premier Kenney’s office: It’s a corporation and FOIP will only apply to info shared btwn the war room and gov. Why? “This would provide a tactical and/or strategic advantage to the very foreign-funded special interests the CEC is looking to counter.” #ableg 4:21 PM – 10 Oct 2019
Justin Giovannetti@justinCgio Oct 10
So the military terminology continues and the government is being explicit: The reason they created this $30-million war room not as a crown corporation is to get around FOIP rules. #ableg [ANYONE INTERESTED OUGHT TO FOIP KENNEY’S ROOM ANYWAYS. IF KENNEY’S ROOM REFUSES TO COOPERATE, TAKE IT TO OIP COMMISSIONER FOR REVIEW/INQUIRY/ADJUDICATION.]
Kathy@Kathy_Edm Replying to @justinCgio @EmmaMayMMA
Where will war room get its info? [Most likely lying CAPP et al] Lots of the good news and data on energy and environment collected by government over the years and continue to gather. It is used for all sort of initiatives, media relations, advocacy & international business marketing and speaking tours.
Govt has contracted agencies for years to place stories, advocate internationally. Separate entity is just smoke and mirrors.
Tribulum@VinylSpinner1 Replying to @justinCgio @softgrasswalker
It also provides them cover for tax theft.
CVV@venterchris Replying to @justinCgio @EmmaMayMMA
What a clown show! It’s embarrassing
Val Jobson@softgrasswalker Replying to @justinCgio
And how paranoid is that, also showing they have a predetermined conclusion to their “investigation” into Krause’s conspiracy nonsense.
Can the Rockefeller group and others sue them for libel less easily this way?
Update: via @Jantafrench, the Canadian Center for Energy will be a private corp, not a Crown. This, it seems would exempt it from FOIP laws and other restrictions of gov’t but also opens a whole other set of questions. I guess transparency is good for the goose, not the gander?
Andrew Leach@andrew_leach Oct 9
I wonder what happens when the corp eventually gets sued for defamation? Are the other QuaNGOs in Alberta private corps? AER? ARC historically? AOSTRA?
Gavin Fitch@GavinFitch62 Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
If true, how is it funded?
Andrew Leach @andrew_leach Oct 9
Gov’t, at least in part. No word if they’re allowed or plan to accept other dollars.
Alberta Fact Checker @North_Resists Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
Are we talking this one? Or is the UCP obfuscating by creating a totally different one with the same name?
Normen Nescio@coolxenu Oct 9
Obfuscating of course. They think they’re smart.
Robert Cooper@RobACooper Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
They appear to have learned from Calgary [Or been ordered to set up this way by CAPP/oil and gas industry?] and their habit of creating private corps for things like the Olympics to avoid FOIP and transparency laws.
Krista D. Ball is writing. @kristadb1 Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
Um…how can a taxpayer-funded anything be exempt from FOIP?!?!?!
How long until they get sued, then, if they’re “private”?
Tom Engel@TomEngel18 Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
Still can FOIP all communications between AB gov’t and crown corp
Stat Geek @stat_geek Oct 9
Possible exception under 16(3)c given non arms length.
Will Zaichkowski@webwonk Oct 10 Replying to @andrew_leach @LukaszukAB @Jantafrench
I wonder if a private corporation can accept “research contracts” from industry and not worry about any requirements for disclosure.#abpoli #AbLeg
Greg@basecampbeers Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
I thought in Alberta we don’t like when the governments provide a service that a private corp could also provide. Isn’t that like our fucking mission statement?
Chris Stachniuk @CStachniuk Oct 10 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
Are they hiring Jim Ellis to run it too? [ROARING LAUGHTER!]
dwatson @impotentrageyyc Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
Wait..even when a gov contracts to a private company any records regarding what they were contracted for is still subject to FOIP. ? @ABoipc a little help please.
Alberta OIPC@ABoipc Oct 10
Without additional information, it’s difficult to comment. Anyone concerned could write to the Commissioner regarding this matter.
JennL@jennlcalgary Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
So the oil lobby is just the Conservative parties (PC, UCP) now right? No separation
J.J. Whelan@jimjameswhelan Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
This is just ridiculous. A private corporation funded by our tax dollars? I don’t know where to begin with how wrong that is [It’s well defined with Jason Kenney at the helm. It will treat the public the way the AER does:]
Above image from Justice D. W. Perras September 7, 2007 report on EUB’s (now AER) “repulsive” spying on innocent Albertans.
Steve Manta@mantalicious Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
If it’s a private corp, with no accountability to Alberta tax payers, why are Alberta taxpayers funding it? #ableg
1700 to zero@startin39906695 Oct 9 Replying to @andrew_leach @Jantafrench
Who is getting paid ridiculous money to run it?
Papaschase tactical Metis @patriciaannmcd2 Oct 10 Replying to @andrew_leach @Ninjarale @Jantafrench
Just another CON job run by Bumbles.
ALBERTA’S UCP GOVERNMENT SETS UP ENERGY WAR ROOM AS PRIVATE CORPORATION TO DODGE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUESTS by David Climenhaga, Oct 1, 2019, AlbertaPolitics.ca
It turns out the so-called Canadian Energy Centre, as the Kenney Government’s $30-million subsidized lobbying campaign for the petroleum industry is now to be known, has been set up as a private corporation.
Previously commonly referred to by both friends and foes as the Energy War Room, the new corporation is supposedly intended to target “a deceitful campaign to landlock the oilsands,” as Energy Minister Sonya Savage described opposition to Alberta’s pipeline demands in her press release Wednesday announcing appointment of former journalist and payday loan lobbyist Tom Olsen as the entity’s managing director.
It’s interesting that the press release passed so lightly over the corporate structure of the government-owned private corporation, a legal formulation for a government front company that can fairly be described as both sketchy and bizarre.
“I think it would look rather unusual to have a corporation called War Room Inc.,” Ms. Savage told a CTV reporter on Wednesday. But that turned out to have been a bit of a diversion for those who assumed, as I did, that this must be a Crown corporation, given that the Crown owns it, or at least provided the dough to set it up.
Instead, as CBC investigative reporter Charles Rusnell revealed in a series of tweets yesterday, the War Room will be a private corporation known as Canadian Energy Centre Ltd., legally headquartered in the 8th Avenue offices of Calgary law firm Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP.
The directors of the corporation listed on its incorporation papers, a copy of which was attached to one of Mr. Rusnell’s tweets, are a trio of characters named Jason Nixon, Doug Schweitzer and Sonya Savage. Ms. Savage, of course, has already been introduced in this post. Mr. Nixon is the minister of environment and parks and the Government House Leader in the Legislature. Mr. Schweitzer is Justice Minister and Attorney General of Alberta. [Mighty sleazy side-job for a Justice Minister! Only in Alberta, do politicians stoop their heads so deeply in slop]
Mr. Rusnell noted that CECL’s curious corporate structure “means it’s not subject to Freedom of Info, so no way for opposition researchers, media or public to ferret out info.”
By yesterday afternoon, the United Conservative Party Government had refined its talking point to explain this shady sounding arrangement.
Newly appointed CECL Managing Director Tom Olsen (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).
“The CEC’s internal operations are not subject to FOIP, as this would provide a tactical and/or strategic advantage to the very foreign-funded special interests the CEC is looking to counter,” Premier Jason Kenney’s press secretary, Christine Myatt, told the CBC’s Legislative reporter in an email.
“For example, we would not let those foreign-funded special interests seeking to attack our province see our detailed defence plans,” [What have we got in our Legislature? Five year olds? No, they are smarter than that. Three year olds playing soldier!] she continued, sticking to the government’s conspiracy theory – which was debunked by Vancouver Observer journalist Sandy Garossino on Oct. 3 as “flatly and demonstrably false.”
While concern about what opponents might discover may indeed be part of the reasoning behind the CECL scheme, one suspects the motives may be considerably murkier. Keeping Albertans from knowing on whom their money is being spent, for example.
Of course, communications between the government and this new government department camouflaged by a bogus corporate structure could still be FOIPed, but I imagine efforts to avoid such scrutiny have also been considered. [People need to FOIP regardless of what Kenney and the Gong Family say. Let the OIP Commissioner review it, and rule on it. It’s smells illegal.]
Who can forget the 2011 case of the mysterious Frederick Lee, who turned out to be an alias used by former Conservative minster Ted Morton on an official government of Alberta email address to send and receive covert communications while he was minister of sustainable resource development? Frederick and Lee were Dr. Morton’s legal first and middle names.
I’m sure Mr. Rusnell – who as it happens also broke the Freddy Lee email story –will cast his FOIP net wide enough to capture any such emails from other Conservative Alberta politicians. If Google notices a flurry of new Gmail accounts being opened in Alberta, this may be the explanation.
Meanwhile, Mr. Olsen’s chances of success in his new role were not rated highly yesterday by political observers, some of whom took the matter less seriously than others.
“If a war room is to be judged by its general, this isn’t an encouraging sign,” tweeted Maclean’s Magazine writer Jason Markusoff. “Olsen was a journalist held in high esteem (by the gov’t of the day), a press secretary (who often mangled the message) and a Kenney UCP candidate (who lost, in Calgary).”
Political blogger Dave Cournoyer suggested more kindly last night that even a PR genius might have problems flogging the message CECL has been set up to promote.
“While it may be easy for Kenney to dismiss NGOs and suggest that the 4,000 Albertans participating in the climate strike protest outside the Legislature were communist sympathizers,” Cournoyer wrote on his Daveberta.ca blog, “Olsen’s war room will have a harder time dismissing its greatest opponent – the free market.”
After all, no matter how elaborate the conspiracy theories the Kenney Government has set up CECL to promote, global markets have decided global warming is real.
“Alberta risks becoming increasingly isolated on energy and climate issues on the national and international stage,” Mr. Cournoyer concluded.
What’s old is new again in Alberta’s energy war room by Chris Varcoe, Oct 11, 2019, Calgary Herald
It was a little more than a decade ago when the Alberta government created a website to go after its critics, usually over media reporting about the oilsands and climate issues.
For the Record, as it was called, was launched by then-premier Ed Stelmach’s office to correct what it deemed were media mistakes, to dispel myths and to provide more “balance” to these topics.
It issued government corrections about the media’s reporting of a mutated “two-jawed fish” found in Lake Athabasca (the extra jaw was, in fact “the tongue depressed between the jaws, due to ligament contraction after death,” it said.) It also admonished a respected magazine for claiming some oilsands projects had polluted waterways.
“It’s not a forum to argue philosophy and spin . . . It’s about factual information,” the premier’s press secretary, Tom Olsen, said in December 2008.
“I don’t see it as government policing journalists.”
For the Record didn’t last very long, nor was it particularly effective. [Trying to con the public never usually is.] But it underscores the difficulty now facing the Kenney government and its new energy war room, officially renamed the Canadian Energy Centre.
The centre, with a $30-million government budget, is expected to open in Calgary by the end of the year.
And its new managing director is the same Tom Olsen, a former Calgary Herald journalist, communications consultant and unsuccessful UCP candidate in the last election. [Maybe Kenney made the war room to give poor Olsen a for too generously paid job for his worth, lots of ego fodder and a massive war chest expense account!?]
On Wednesday, Energy Minister Sonya Savage said the centre, with Olsen at the helm collecting a $194,000 annual salary, will use facts to counteract misinformation about the oilpatch. [Nothing out of Kenney’s Heil Hitler room is expected to be truthful or intelligent]
A rapid response unit will issue “swift responses to misinformation spread through social and traditional media.”
A data and research unit will analyze information about the industry [More spying on innocent Albertans? Alberta can’t even do that well], while an energy literacy unit will create content and “help the province take control of its energy story.”
“Part of the main function in there is to anticipate where the ball is going, to get ahead of the story, to tell the story, to be able to write the story,” Savage told reporters Wednesday at the legislature.
Alas, if only all governments could write their own unfiltered narratives without the pesky criticism of naysayers.
But, if it was difficult for the Stelmach government a decade ago to set the record straight for mainstream media reporting on the oilsands or climate concerns, imagine how difficult it will be to do that in 2019, with the proliferation of social media and polarized audiences.
Mount Royal University communications professor David Taras can see the need for such a centre to try to get out data and facts, such as what environmental action the industry is actually taking. [Nothing, unless it makes profits via massive subsidies, or if fully paid for by taxpayers]
But he believes the broader war-room exercise is rife with potential pitfalls.
The oilpatch already has companies and industry associations to present the case for Canada’s energy sector. The provincial government has many sectors — not just its largest one — to defend.
To succeed, the information has to be accepted by the public and shared on social media networks, because “if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead,” said Taras.
If the war room is constantly wading into battles on Facebook with anti-oilsands critics who are not going to change their minds, what’s the end game?
“The risk is just being seen as a propaganda agency, at a time when people are very good at spotting PR exercises and . . . looking foolish in that process,” he said.
“My suspicion is that it is a hammer looking for something to nail.”
Those who support and oppose the war room agree the centre can be useful if it collects and releases solid data about energy development in the province, adding more facts to the broader debate.
The Canadian Energy Regulator (formerly the National Energy Board) has a wealth of information and Statistics Canada recently launched the Canadian Energy Information Portal, although it’s still got a ways to go to match the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“If they want to just give data, there is a value to that,” said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist for Greenpeace Canada. “But in the war room aspect of this, to just . . . be an attack team, that is going to fall flat.”
Stewart Muir, executive director of Resource Works, a Vancouver-based group that advocates for natural resource development, supports the concept of the centre and believes there is a place for Alberta to move into a neutral information space. For example, there is confusion about Canada’s long-term strategy for the oil and gas sector, or if one even exists.
“Alberta can do a lot to influence the national discussion on how do we get to having a national energy strategy that is fair to all provinces,” he said.
“Don’t be afraid to stand up and be assertive for Alberta . . . in a way that is fact based, respectful and within bounds in all of those ways. Then I think they are golden.”
The other question to ask is what does success actually look like? (For the Record issued only a few corrections [or lies?] before it quietly faded away.)
Pointing out the role of technology to lower future oilsands emissions, or how Canadian natural gas is needed to displace coal used in other countries [Frac’d natural gas is as polluting as coal, if not more so. Frac Fact That!], might make sense. Picking scraps on Twitter will be a waste of time, unless the point of the exercise is simply to be seen to be combative.
“The key to Kenney’s popularity is he’s seen as the guy who fights back on the behalf of Alberta [Where’s his fight to make Encana unfrac and fix the Rosebud drinking water aquifers?], and this reinforces his image as a guy who is going to fight back,” added Taras.
“If that gets accomplished, for Kenney it will be a great success, regardless of whether or not they move the message beyond Alberta.” [Wanna bet a year’s supply of safe water that it’ll be a money-hogging, hanky panky loaded failure?]
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