Alberta’s war room not only spins, it misuses citizens; Canadian Association of Journalists calls UCP propaganda war room out for calling its spinners journalists.

Excellent comment to the Alberta Politics article:

I think the War Room is turning out to be a splendid thing. They can’t go five minutes without stepping on their dicks and making the O&G sector in Alberta look stupid. An “interview” with a chef that no one reads and a rebuttal from the chef – including a quote about how much he doesn’t want a pipeline in his neighbourhood – that everyone reads?

And the logo-of-the-day saga?

My partner and I have a bet on how long the O&G sector execs will tolerate this nonsense before yanking on JK’s leash good and hard. Greenpeace et al should be jealous – they’ve never made polluters look this bad.

A few of the comments to the articles below. It’s refreshing to see so few conned by kopykatkenney and his creepy, lying, logo-copying clan:

Schjon Aster
The Alberta government War Room is going to spend more money in the courts for 2 stolen logos, instead of using it for its intended purpose; to ruin the environment.

Kathleen O’Donoghue
The first time was an error and, although sloppy work on the part of the marketing company, was acknowledged and they said they would make it right. The marketing company has now failed twice and needs to be replaced. The damage that they are causing to both their own reputation, and that of this UCP initiative, is going to be hard to come back from.

Robert Tombs to Kathleen O’Donoghue
The first time was more than sloppy. It was logo theft. Legal penalties for logo theft can include:
Jail or prison sentences
Confiscation of unauthorized products or materials
Cease and desist injunctions
Criminal fines
Civil damages for loss of profits

Grant Bablitz
The upper-class twits in Central Canada were reaching to the bottom of the barrel when they send a little Jason Kenney to run the petro state. Most people living in Alberta are clueless and easily hoodwinked, Many having only recently arrived and know nothing at all must be educated about politicians who lie and cheat.

Buffy St. Wannamaker
This would be hilarious if it wasn’t costing taxpayers’ money. Kenney is a joke. Everything that incompetent fool touches turns brown.

So far your CECL has passed enough gas to hoist a hot air balloon miles above the Calgary Tower.

The three Ministers that are apparently “the Board” of this corporation are also paid to be a MLA/Minister. So are any of them getting “extra” pay to sit on this board? How much time does this take away from their elected job??? There needs to be more exposed on this fiasco in whatever way we can get it!

I thought Jason Kenney was suppose to be one of those Conservatives that does not want the government involved in business, yet Kenney is subsidizing the unethical oil industry to a tune of $120 million dollars over the next 4 years with an oil industry propaganda war room. The highly subsidized oil industry, which is still raking in billions of dollars in profits, can fight its own battles with its own public relations money like every other industry does. That is suppose to be one of the jobs of the foreign controlled Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers or CAPP.

It is sad enough that Kenney is bringing in a new bill (#12- see to undemocratically lock in cheap oil royalty rates for 10 years on wells so the unethical oil industry gets away with cheap Conservative royalty rates that are said to be 43% less that the Lougheed Government years.

This is oil wealth that democratically belongs to the people of Alberta and it should not be undemocratically squandered away like it has been for the last 35 years to friends of the corrupt Conservatives.

If we had real democracy in Alberta, where people are given the legalized right to vote on bills before the Legislative Assembly, along with citizen initiated legislation, the citizens would not have to put up with such stupid wasteful spending on things like a Kenney subsidized fake news energy war room or spending millions of dollars to go after environmentalists who just want clean water for all to drink and clean air for all to breathe rather than having corrupt oil companies dumping toxic lung cancer causing chemicals into the air for us to suck on undemocratically.

The $120 million Kenney will spend on the subsidized war room over the next 4 years would be better utilized to reduce unethical oil industry pollution and the resulting health problems associated with such unethical pollution.

Time to clean up the unethical cancer causing corrupt Kenney machine.

As a former oil industry worker I helped clean up some corrupt illegal oil industry polluting activities just by making phone calls to CEOs and polluting oil production facilities when I saw black smoke coming from them or I was gagging on sour gas or I saw leaking gas wells. I expect all oil and gas workers to do the same if they have an ethical bone in their bodies and don’t want people to get unnecessary painful lethal lung cancer.

With the Kenney gang dropping in the polls, some MLAs better find a new party home if they want to stay in Edmonton after the next election. You can still be a Conservative in another party, but one with higher ethical standards than corrupt Kenney.

Rob Davies: Merry Christmas and a happy new year to Mr. Bumble, his circus act cronies and all his deceived followers. Let’s hope he closes the war room and gives us back the $30M “investment” in 2020

Ed Henderson in reply to Rob Davies:
Probably be after another $30M in 2020. Why not? I suspect that wherever these folks go,,,they arrive in one vehicle together and are followed by 6 other vans full of hairdressers, advisers and guards.

Tom Rudd: If anybody thinks that Mr. Kenney will not completely control the CEC, they are delusional. A complete joke.

Imran Shabbir: I thought the war room will right away start calling out loud and clear the names of foreign entities who had undermined Alberta O&G. So far all I have seen is a crooked stolen first logo, and a stolen but modified second logo. What a joke!!

Jeff Raithby: This war room serves only the capitalist corporate rat and their financial cockroaches. This government or its “war room” won’t impact address any of Alberta’s many energy sector workers in the least. …

Julie Vine: Mike Vine commenting 30,000,000$ In a time when so many are unemployed and struggling. Its absolutely corrupt. The money could have been use almost anywhere and done some good. But no its going to political handouts. Albertans are smarter than this. By making it a corporation that isn’t subject to freedom of information laws makes it smell even more. Who is going to hold this ” Warrooom to account, well apparently not the auditor general. 30 million dollar giveaway.

David joe: Lowering already low corporate tax was ridiculous when you are determined to cut services and jobs. The war room is just a scam and will only attract negative attention just like Harper did to our energy industry. Muzzling and threatening scientists, closing seven world renown ocean fishery libraries, throwing 100 years of science in a landfill, cutting regulations to land and water and their budgets only attracted celebrities, company boycotts, the Fifth Estate (silence of the labs) and was even mentioned in Stephen Hawking’s last interview. Harper hurt our industry globally like no one else and now kenney is following his same mistakes. This is what Reformercons do and they are not really Progressive Conservatives. 

Ken Schmaltz: The new logo is borrowed from a software company too. They rotated it and added a maple leaf, but it’s the logo for Alpha Browser.

Kelly S: I guess you don’t have to worry about party donations when you can pull from our tax dollars to finance UCP advertising and justify their decisions.

Peter Breedveld: They are in a fish bowl and need to be careful because the enemies of Alberta will pounce on every error. I think the over the top reaction to this small logo mistake makes that reality clear. They need to learn from these attacks on the CEC and adapt.

null null IN REPLY TO Peter Breedveld:
“…..small logo mistake….”
It was pilfered from trade marked logo of an American software company. They might sue over that yet. Also there are some twitter pitter that the second logo is also a copy… we shall see.

Nick Wright: Predictable Kenney move with a historical precedent: “The Premier pitched the war room as a response to what the Alberta government has deemed to be misinformation about the oil and gas sector,” so his “war room” uses “misinformation” about itself in order to misappropriate the words and efforts of others to support its political message. It’s the same mentality that gave us misleading robocalls in the 2011 election.

THE ENERGY WAR ROOM’S CRACK TEAM ISN’T EXACTLY ‘COOKIN’ WITH GAS’ by David Climenhaga, Dec 26, 2019, Alberta Politics

Should we be worried about operatives employed by the Alberta Government’s public-private Energy War Room masquerading as journalists?

Of course we should. But it’s also OK to be amused by the astonishing ineptitude with which they’re going about the task.

As King Solomon is said to have observed, pride goeth before destruction, so it’s unlikely the prideful United Conservative Party Government of Premier Jason Kenney will do the smart thing and quietly move its so-called Canadian Energy Centre to the back burner of the stove. [Gwyn Morgan’s garborator would be a better place for it]

But, good lord, you have to ask how long the three stooges who supposedly call the shots at government-owned but putatively “private” Canadian Energy Centre Ltd. — Energy Minister Sonya Savage, Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer and Environment Minister Jason Nixon — are going to put up with management that seems to seriously mess up a couple of times every week. [Same screw ups are likely happening in the legislature too, it’s not just a kopykatkenney war room affliction]

The War Room’s “punchy communications experts,” as Ms. Savage once called them, clearly aren’t cookin’ with gas, as the expression goes!

I speak, of course, of the Christmas Day revelation that the subject of one of the War Room’s lame puff pieces, a Vancouver chef who really does cook with gas, is furious that a writer for the taxpayer-bankrolled digital fossil-fuel-industry propaganda house [haaaaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaaa~! best name ever!] didn’t bother to explain exactly what CECL does when she called about a story on why professional chefs prefer to cook with [frac’d radioactive] gas, which is not exactly news. (Hint: You can set the heat just right.)

If the purpose of this exercise is to persuade Canadians in other provinces that the Alberta Government is an honest broker, just setting the record straight on misleading statements about the province’s fossil fuel industry, making new enemies in British Columbia is surely not the right way to go about it. [Roaring laughter! Brilliant Mr. Climenhaga!]

In the normal course of events, in the normal sort of media, this kind of story would pass unnoticed on any day of the year, not just Christmas.

But when Donald Gyurkovits, who is also president of the Canadian Culinary Federation, publicly roasted CECL because he felt he’d been burned by the reporter’s failure to tell him what the organization actually is, it quickly became a national story.

“I never knew it was a government agency, never,” Mr. Gyurkovits told the Canadian Press. “I wouldn’t have commented if I knew it was a political play.”

Naturally, as a restaurateur in Vancouver where anti-pipeline sentiment runs high, Mr. Gyurkovits needs to be sensitive about not offending his customers. “I live in British Columbia,” he told the CP. “I don’t want an oil pipeline or a gas pipeline going though my backyard.”

Also naturally, actual journalists don’t want ninnies like the ones in the War Room pretending to be journalists. After all, the ability of real reporters to get folks to tell them stuff — people who have no legal obligation whatsoever to talk to reporters or tell them anything — is endangered by fake journalists in the pay of governments, be they War Room “reporters” or cops pretending to be TV crews.

What’s more, this is not the first time this has happened. This is an operation that’s only been around for a couple of weeks and there’s been a fresh embarrassment almost every couple of days! And this is costing us taxpayers $30 million a year?

The Canadian Association of Journalists has already fricasseed CECL for letting its operatives call themselves “reporters” — an ethically questionable practice that War Room spokesperson Grady Semmens nevertheless deems acceptable.

Then there was also the matter of CECL’s apparent inability to come up with a corporate logo that doesn’t actually belong to someone else, another story that’s left egg on the face of Tom Olsen, the former UCP candidate who is the War Room’s CEO and general manager.

It was quite natural that this latest War Room fumble would become a bigger story than it might have if some garden-variety non-governmental scamster had been pretending to be a reporter for whatever purpose. That’s because the journalists who still get to decide what’s news, and what isn’t, are concerned about their diminishing ability to do their jobs in this age of fake news. That, in turn, is why mainstream media have decided this situation is newsworthy. They will now be watching CECL carefully for fresh missteps.

It’s important to note that it’s never really been all that clear if journalism is a profession, a trade or, as Hunter S. Thomson famously and profanely put it, just a cheap catch-all for a couple of words unsuitable for a general-readership blog.

An argument can be made it’s important in a free society that anyone — bloggers, for example — have the right to report and interpret news.

Nor is the CAJ anything like a regulatory college that sets enforceable standards for members of a profession and can decide who is or isn’t a practitioner. Its ethics guidelines are entirely aspirational.

Indeed, many people who make a living as journalists have never had anything to do with that organization, and never will. The CAJ doesn’t seem to publish membership numbers itself, but Aboriginal Peoples Television Network says it has 600 members, so it’s safe to say a majority of working journalists are not members.

However, it’s not as if there’s a legitimate debate about whether the people working for CECL are “reporters.” Obviously they’re not. The whole exercise reeks of fakery. But it’s a sad commentary on the times that there’s not much light between the drivel the War Room publishes and what appears when the credulous folk generally considered to be “real” journalists report on the same stuff.

Sill, it’s bizarre War Room employees would do anything except apologize and meekly back away. If they’re such crackerjack communications experts, it should be obvious to them they can’t win because it’s not in the interests of the commercial media they’ve been hired to woo to let them win.

As Mark Wells, former head of the Alberta Government’s Public Affairs Bureau, tweeted today: “How long until this $30 million propaganda/patronage experiment is deemed too embarrassing for the UCP to continue funding?”

If they’re smart, of course, CECL’s directors will turn down the gas and move this whole dumb idea to the back burner.

As Mr. Wells pointed out, the only good thing about this continuing gong show is that it makes the evasion from Freedom of Information laws baked into the War Room’s corporate structure entirely gratuitous. “It’s been public failure after public failure.”

(Enough cooking metaphors! — Ed.)

Vancouver chef featured in article by Alberta ‘energy war room’ furious he wasn’t told of links to government by James Keller, Dec 25, 2019, The Globe and Mail

A Vancouver chef who was featured in an article produced by Alberta’s “energy war room” says he’s furious he wasn’t told that the Canadian Energy Centre was created and funded by the provincial government. [Well, duh, who would interview with any agency in polluter-controlled Canada, without doing their homework first? Alberta govt is the worst, most dishonest and most abusive petro state in the country!]

Donald Gyurkovits, president of the Canadian Culinary Federation, said his group strives to stay out of politics and he never would have participated if the writer who contacted him explained the background of the centre.

Several other people interviewed by the war room have also said they were not told about its ties to the Alberta government [How could anyone not see how tightly entwined the war room is with not only reportedly criminal kopykatkenny and the UCP, but also the oil and gas industry and its dishonest extremely expensive pimp, CAPP?] and critics have questioned why the centre’s writers have been describing themselves as reporters. [Easy. They’re liars working a big propaganda scam for kenny and industry. I am not expecting any truth out of Kenney, not since hearing his crap and lies as MP under Steve Harper, or out of any of the staff in the war room. They are paid – a lot – to lie, and that’s what’s they’re doing.]

… So far, the centre’s work has focused on a website with a series of articles and opinion pieces on various facets of the oil and gas industry. One of those pieces featured chefs, including Mr. Gyurkovits, extolling the benefits of cooking with natural gas. [Roaring laughter! Ya, frac’d radioactive gas!~ Buy a geiger counter Mr. Gyurkovits, and check it yourself over your natural gas cook stove.]

Mr. Gyurkovits said the person who interviewed him identified herself as a writer from Toronto working for the Canadian Energy Centre. Her initial e-mail requesting an interview did not explain the origins of the centre and instead linked to its website, which does not prominently identify it as a creation of government.

“I never knew it was a government agency – never,” Mr. Gyurkovits said in an interview. [Who in their right mind would trust anything “energy” anywhere in Canada?]

I kind of feel little betrayed [Welcome to the frac club of canada!] because we are not a political entity in any way, shape or form. … I wouldn’t have commented if I knew it was a political play. We’re about cooking and what’s good for our business and our industry.”

Mr. Gyurkovits said his industry accepts that it will need to move on from fossil fuels and wants to ensure small businesses are protected and offered financial help to make that happen.

“I live in British Columbia,” he said. “I don’t want an oil pipeline or a gas pipeline going through my backyard.” [Well, like it or not, you’re gonna get one. And, with that pipeline, comes the enforcers. Better look out, you have publicly declared yourself an enemy of the war room, kopykatkenney and the energy industry. Their personal bullying thugs, the taxpayer-funded RCMP, will be knocking on your door soon, to try to harass and intimidate you into taking back you comments in this article and make you apologize for them on bended knee to Kenney in a photo-op]

In other cases, staff and freelance writers from the centre have identified themselves to potential sources as reporters. The Canadian Association of Journalists has decried war room writers’ use of the term “reporter” as Orwellian, given that the energy centre has a mandate to [lie, lie, and lie some more and to] support the industry and government policy.

The association’s president, Karyn Pugliese, said the war room is inappropriately blurring the line between journalism and government public relations. She said it’s deceptive for war room writers to identify themselves as reporters and not disclose that they are working for an extension of the provincial government. [welcome to kenney’s world]

“Governments, they want to support a position, they want to get people to vote for them. They can do PR, but it’s not journalism,” she said in an interview.

What they’re doing is they’re spinning. And they’re welcome to spin, but when they masquerade that as journalism, it’s completely dishonest.” [Of course, it’s Kenney, what else but an expensive shit show of lies can anyone expect?]

Grady Semmens, a spokesman for the centre, argued there’s no problem with war room writers using the term “reporter,” although he said they are told to explain that they are producing content for the Canadian Energy Centre and make it clear that “that the CEC is funded by the government of Alberta.”

“To avoid any confusion, we will underscore to our writers that they need to ensure it is clear who they are working for,” he wrote in an e-mail.

The Premier pitched the war room as a response to what the Alberta government has deemed to be misinformation about the oil and gas sector. The centre is funded through a mix of industrial carbon tax revenue and money previously earmarked for public relations. [aka, from taxpayers stupid, selfish and greedy enough to have voted for Kenney]

Aside from its website, the centre will promote its message through social media and traditional advertising, and it will include a “rapid response” team whose job it will be to respond to criticism of the oil industry.

The war room has prompted comparisons to Ontario News Now, an online video service run by Premier Doug Ford’s caucus and paid for by taxpayers. Stephen Harper’s Conservative federal government had a weekly video series called 24 Seven, and Ontario’s Liberal Party produced YouTube videos a decade ago called Liberal TV.

Journalist group protests Alberta war room’s use of term reporters, ‘When the government hires its own PR firm, that’s fine. But when you pretend that PR firm is journalism, that’s positively Orwellian’ by The Canadian Press, Dec 24, 2019, Calgary Herald

Staff in the Alberta government’s so-called war room should stop calling themselves reporters, says the president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

“Don’t pretend that you’re doing journalism — because you’re not,” Karyn Pugliese said Tuesday from Winnipeg. “When the government hires its own PR firm, that’s fine. But when you pretend that PR firm is journalism, that’s positively Orwellian.”

… The centre has since published a series of articles on its website. Sources contacted for those stories have told media organizations, including The Canadian Press, that staff identified themselves on the phone as reporters.

It’s trying to spin. It’s trying to win
The energy centre did not reply to a request for comment Tuesday, but spokesman Grady Semmens has said that staff are “not advised” to use that term.

Pugliese said using the word “reporter” is a dangerous attempt to blur the lines between truth and messaging.

At the very least, she said, journalism must be arm’s-length from government. The energy centre’s board consists of three provincial cabinet members and is run by a failed United Conservative candidate.

“The mission of journalism is to be a Fourth Estate, to question things, to try to get to the truth as fairly and balanced as you can,” Pugliese said. “It holds the government to account.”

She said the energy centre’s mission is quite different: “It’s trying to spin. It’s trying to win.”

Pugliese said using the term reporter deliberately misrepresents the writer and the intent of the work.

“When they’re approaching people and they’re saying, ‘We’re journalists,’ people are expecting them to behave the way journalists behave.

“That’s not what they’re doing.”

A few of the comments:

Gregory Speers27

This affront to democracy is appalling, shame on The Kenney regime. Alberta’s government is acting like a bully & it is troubling to see this war on journalists & environmentalists. People who vote for this kind of government do not care for democracy, they care about power, money & control. Caring for others isn’t in their vocabulary. Heck they sacrifice the very land they live on in the name of crony capitalism that benefits only the rich & hope for a few trickle down sheckles. Will they expand this war room in a few years & give it more power? If I lived in Alberta I would be worried one day my door would be kicked in & I’d be swarmed by authorities because I wrote this comment.

James Ozon44

Did anyone expect anything less from a ‘war room’ staffed by people with a ‘ war room’ mentality? Every negative comment about the west’s energy sector or the premiers of Saskatchewan and Alberta is fair game for rebuttal. Intimidating people into soft-balling criticism of whatever the ‘war room’ staff determine is to be defended is the object of such a $30 million dollar exercise. The professionals in the oil and gas industry must be appalled at this amateurism supposedly in support of their interests.

War room needs to establish credibility and independence by Rob Breakenridge, Dec 24, 2019, Calgary Herald

While the Canadian Energy Centre was able to exchange its old logo for a new one [that also copies another corporations registered logo], Albertans don’t have that option with the CEC itself. For better or for worse, this is the “war room” we have and this is the “war room” we are stuck with. [NOT TRUE. IF KENNEY AND CAPP HAD HALF A BRAIN EACH INSTEAD OF MONSTER EGOS, THEY’D KILL THE WAR ROOM ASAP. IT’S A FARCICAL FAILURE, BEING RIDICULED EVERYWHERE. ]

It can certainly be argued that there is a need for something like the CEC, or at least a more general need for more effective promotion and defence of our energy sector. However, it does not automatically follow that the CEC’s creation alone has accomplished anything. [The way Kenney ‘n CAPP have set it up and staff it, it’s guaranteed to never accomplish anything but lies and embarrassing buffoonery.] Ultimately, what matters is credibility and competence; if the CEC has neither of those things [it doesn’t], then our significant investment in this venture will have been wasted.

It’s far too early to judge the success or failure of the CEC, but it is fair to say the centre has had an inauspicious start. [haaaahaaaaa roaring laughter! Mr. Breakenridge, you got that right!] And first impressions can be hard to correct. [The centre was doomed before it stole its logo a no-go.]

The logo gaffe may have been the first introduction to the CEC for many Albertans. [nah, hiring a failed UCPer to lead it, and changing the war room’s name, copying the new name from a federal govt centre was its floppish start.] Launching with what turned out to be a logo copied from an American software company seems like the sort of blunder that is hard to square with the centre’s $30-million annual budget and all of its purported savvy.

Hopefully, it’s an original logo [IT’S NOT!] that now rests atop the CEC website, because the snickers that followed the original misstep would be nothing compared to the howls of laughter that would follow a second such embarrassment.

Becoming a laughing stock could prove fatal to the CEC’s lofty ambitions. [Ha! “Becoming?” Too late, the war room already is.]

So, too, could the perception that the CEC is too tightly linked to the government. [There’s no perception. IT IS!] Ostensibly, the centre is an “independent provincial corporation,” [If you believe that, you ought to go work for Santa] and the premier has insisted [Pfffft! Kenney being honest with voters? Impossible! ] that it will not be a propaganda arm of the government. If this venture is to succeed, we should hope not.

For example, had the government simply boosted its own public relations budget by an additional $30 million a year for the same stated purposes, it would have been met with an incredible amount of cynicism. The CEC can’t just be an extension of the government’s already considerable PR machine.

I don’t think anyone imagines for a moment that the CEC is going to contradict the government’s messaging on any relevant matters, but its job shouldn’t be to defend government policy. [Oh ya? just watch!]

For example, there is an article on the CEC website explaining the reasons for — and the benefits of — lowering Alberta’s corporate tax rate. I happen to agree with that policy, but it’s hard to see how that fits into the centre’s role or mandate. The government is more than capable of defending its tax policy — or any other policy, for that matter, including the policy that led to the CEC’s creation in the first place.

After an op-ed ran in a Medicine Hat newspaper earlier this month, the CEC’s content director was quick to demand an opportunity to provide a response. However, the original op-ed in question was actually arguing against the decision to create the CEC. The centre did not choose to create itself, the government did. Let the spin doctors who work for the premier or the energy minister take that one on.

If that line is blurred, then we have a problem. Furthermore, if the CEC’s task is to spread the good word about our energy sector, I’m not sure that folks in Medicine Hat — or anywhere else in Alberta, for that matter — are the ones most urgently in need of hearing it. Preaching to the choir isn’t going to win the battle for hearts and minds.

It’s not clear how we’re defining success for the CEC, and maybe the government likes it that way. But given that the centre isn’t going anywhere, we all have a vested interest in it not being seen as a joke and not being seen as a PR vehicle for the government. Hopefully, things will get better from here. [Highly impossible, given what the war room is, and who is leading it, and working it]

There’s a reason for this brilliantly apt book title, and it’s not fiction:

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