Premier monitoring allegations at U of C and examining change in conflict of interest legislation by Annalise Klingbeil, November 3, 2015, Calgary Herald
In the wake of allegations of undue corporate influence at the University of Calgary, the premier suggested Tuesday her government will examine if Alberta’s post-secondary institutions should be forced to comply with provincial conflict-of-interest legislation. [WHAT ABOUT UNDUE ENCANA INFLUENCE OVER ANALYTICAL LABS, ALBERTA RESEARCH COUNCIL (NOW ALBERTA INNOVATES), ALBERTA HEALTH, FRAC’D COMMUNITIES, MDS AND COUNTIES, THE AER/EUB/ERCB AND ALBERTA ENVIRONMENT, THE ALBERTA GOVERNMENT, ETC?]
Senior academics at the U of C alleged in a CBC News investigation that Enbridge Inc. inappropriately interfered in the university’s Centre for Corporate Sustainability, after the pipeline giant provided a $2.25-million donation to fund the think-tank.
But school president Elizabeth Cannon and Enbridge deny any wrongdoing.
Cannon is a longtime board member with Enbridge’s income fund and questions have also been raised regarding her paid role as a corporate director with the Calgary-based company and an e-mail she sent to the business school dean in 2012 passing along Enbridge’s concerns with his leadership of the research centre.
Premier Rachel Notley told reporters Tuesday she’s monitoring the situation at the U of C and the oversight provided by the board of governors her government appoints.
“Our university system is set up in such a way that we have a board of directors, or board of governors, at each post-secondary institution, who are tasked with the responsibility of overseeing ethical behaviour and the code of conduct,” Notley said.
The premier added that the government will be looking at “what the board concludes, in terms of looking at these particular circumstances, the allegations with respect to the work that was being done at the university, the independence, and the academic integrity of the work that was being done at the university.”
The U of C’s board of governors has yet to comment on the allegations.
Notley said it’s “very important” the province develop consistent conflict of interest rules.
“As part of our larger review of agencies, boards and commissions, one of the issues that we would be looking at, would be the application of the conflict of interest legislation to ensure a consistent approach to these issues,” she said. [SOUNDS LIKE A TINY BIT OF “MAYBE” ACTION MANY YEARS TOO VAGUE AND IN THE FUTURE TO HELP THE THOUSANDS OF ALBERTANS HARMED BY THE ENDLESS FRAC FRAUDS COVERING UP LAW VIOLATIONS, BLOWING UP WATER RESERVOIRS, HEALTH HARMS, DRINKING WATER POLLUTION, ETC]
If applied in the university context, the law could allow the province’s ethics commissioner to forbid school executives from holding outside directorships or employment that created or appeared to create a conflict of interest, require annual public disclosure of their financial interests, and force them to place publicly traded securities in a blind trust while in office.
Under the U of C’s current code of conduct, employees and academic staff are required to internally disclose potential conflicts of interest, refrain from using their position to influence decisions that would benefit them or related parties, and obtain written approval to engage in any activity that may give rise to a conflict of commitment.
Cannon has been a board member with Enbridge’s income fund since 2004 and security filings show she was paid $130,500 last year for her work as an independent director.
Company documents also show that at the end of 2014 Cannon was owner of 25,300 shares in the income fund with market worth of approximately $810,000.
The university president insists she was “absolutely” wearing her “university hat” when she personally intervened in the centre by e-mailing the business school dean about the project.
“The email sent in (2012) is not in contravention of me staying out of the operations,” she told the Herald in an interview Monday.
“It was a simple reminder to him that when we get into an agreement he has to be accountable for delivering back, but that does not contravene any conflict of interest. There’s no direction from me other than that we need to provide leadership and to deliver back to the community, but not getting involved in the day to day operations.”
No formal complaints alleging misconduct regarding the research centre, which launched as the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability in 2012, have been filed at the U of C.
“We take complaints very seriously,” Cannon said.
“If an academic staff member feels that academic integrity has been compromised or other academic freedom had been infringed upon, they can file a complaint, they can do it anonymously, we have the protected disclosure process.”
The centre still exists but its name has been changed to the Centre for Corporate Sustainability.
Sandra Hoenle, president of the U of C’s Faculty Association, said the recent allegations concerning Enbridge point to a larger problem she’s long noticed at the university.
“This is really a systemic issue about transparency. There are a lot of things happening at the university that senior administration, and/or the board of governors, are doing that really scream for transparency and they’re not being transparent,” she said.
Honele welcomed the premier’s suggestion that existing conflict-of-interest legislation may be applied to university boards in the future.
“One of the big problems in this situation…is conflict of interest, so this may be a positive route to go,” she said. [Emphasis added]
U of C president defends role in Enbridge centre by Annalise Klingbeil, November 2, 2015, Calgary Herald
The University of Calgary’s president says she personally intervened in a research centre funded by a $2.25-million donation from a pipeline giant despite the fact she was a corporate director of a related company.
In early 2012, Enbridge and the U of C launched the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability, but months later Elizabeth Cannon sent an email to her business school dean passing along the company’s concerns about his leadership on the initiative.
Cannon, who has been a board member with Enbridge’s income fund since 2004, insists she was “absolutely wearing my university hat” when she typed the email to the dean.
“It was simply an e-mail sent to the dean expressing frustration that he, as the one who oversees, and has the delegated authority to oversee the operations, needs to do his job,” Cannon told the Herald in an interview Monday.
But for one leading Canadian advocate of academic freedom, the fact Cannon sits on the board of Enbridge Income Fund Holdings and is president at the U of C, raises some serious questions.
“A president of a university, wherever she is, is still president of the university,” said James Turk, a professor at Ryerson University and former executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
“To try to pretend that you can separate the two is simply untenable.”
The controversy came to light Monday following a CBC investigation into the relationship between the university and Enbridge, a Calgary-based energy transportation company.
The CBC obtained 1,200 pages of documents under freedom of information legislation, including an email between Cannon and Leonard Waverman, then dean of the Haskayne School of Business.
“They (Enbridge) have traditionally been strong supporters of (the University of Alberta) and this is the first major gift to the U of C,” Cannon said in her message to Waverman.
“They are not seeing your leadership on this file and are feeling that once the funding was committed, the interest from you was lost. This is not good for you or the university.”
The message was featured in the public broadcaster’s investigation into whether the university gave up academic independence in favour of corporate sponsorship when it set up the new centre.
Waverman, who now works at McMaster University, declined an interview request.
“I left the University of Calgary 3 (sic) years ago and cannot add anything,” he said in an email to the Herald.
Cannon’s email was written after a United States academic recruited to lead the new centre had balked at a position with the research institute he felt would be perceived as too cosy with Canada’s largest pipeline company and a 10-year pledge of money aimed at rejuvenating its corporate image in the wake of a massive spill in Michigan in 2010.
“I have the impression that Enbridge sees the centre as a PR machine for themselves, whereas I see it as an academic research centre,” Joe Arvai wrote in one email provided to CBC.
Arvai was the inaugural director of the U of C’s Center for Corporate Sustainability but has since left the university and is teaching at the University of Michigan.
Cannon said Monday she has been on Enbridge Income Fund’s board since 2004 and security filings show she was paid $130,500 last year for her work as an independent director.
Enbridge holds approximately 90 per cent economic interest in Enbridge Income Fund.
Company documents also show that at the end of 2014 Cannon was owner of 25,300 shares in the income fund with market worth of approximately $810,000. Cannon said she purchased those shares with her own money.
While the university’s code of conduct contains conflict of interest provisions that forbid employees from taking part in a university decision which may result in a real or perceived private benefit, Cannon says she didn’t break the rules by sending the email “expressing frustration” to Waverman.
“It was a simple reminder to him that when we get into an agreement he has to be held accountable for delivering back, but that does not contravene any conflict of interest,” she said.
“There’s no direction from me other than that we need to provide leadership and to deliver back to the community, but not getting involved in the day-to-day operations.”
While she intervened when problems arose, Cannon said she was not involved in discussions with Enbridge around the creation of the centre that began in 2008 nor the final agreement that was inked in 2011 with the university’s vice-president of development.
“There was a rocky start to the centre,” she said.
“There could have been better transparency, better communications and since those emails were written in 2011 and 2012 there have been changes made in terms of agreements with third parties.”
D’Arcy Levesque from Enbridge called the allegations concerning Enbridge’s partnership with the university unfair and false, in a statement Monday.
Levesque, vice president of enterprise communications and corporate social responsibility at Enbridge, said the company’s philanthropic partnerships with the university have no strings attached.
Academic freedom advocate Turk said post-secondary institutions have long faced pressure from donors who give money to universities and want a say over academic matters in exchange.
“Responsible universities have always declined that offer,” he said.
Turk dubbed the allegations brought forward in the CBC investigation “extremely serious” and “absolutely staggering.”
He called for a full-scale investigation into the school’s conduct, which is something the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) said Monday it could pursue.
Lori Sigurdson, minister of advanced education, said in a statement she’ll monitor the situation at the U of C moving forward but for now, will allow the school’s autonomous [??] board to “assess the situation to ensure the proper polices are in place.”
CBC INVESTIGATES: How the University of Calgary’s Enbridge relationship became controversial, ‘Most damningly it smacks of us being apologists for the fossil fuel industry,’ one academic warned by Kyle Bakx & Paul Haavardsrud, November 2, 2015, CBC News
Go to link above to watch interview clips
Joe Arvai’s tenure at the University of Calgary ended brusquely in July 2012 after the rising academic star balked at leading a new research institute that he felt would be perceived as little more than a corporate mouthpiece for Canada’s largest pipeline company.
But Arvai is not the only professor to leave the university over concerns its relationships with the oil industry were too cozy, a CBC investigation has found.
Former dean Leonard Waverman warned an academic to stop questioning the relationship with Enbridge because ‘if this goes belly up my ass is on the line’. (YouTube)
Emails obtained from a freedom of information request suggest a pattern of corporate influence during the bungled attempt to establish a new research centre that cost the university top level academic talent and its Haskayne School of Business upwards of a million dollars in corporate sponsorship.
The story of the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability covers a short and troubled two-and-a-half years that ended in the fall of 2014.
In that time, documents obtained by the CBC reveal a university bending over backward to accommodate the apparent public relations ambitions of a corporate patron.
Along the way, concerns about academic independence, the role of university research and the credibility of the researchers were dismissed.
Fraught from the start
In the beginning, the Enbridge Centre looked like a coup for the U of C, its business school and university president Elizabeth Cannon.
I have the impression that Enbridge sees the centre as a PR machine for themselves, whereas I see it as an academic research centre
– Joe Arvai, Former director of the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability
To establish the centre, Enbridge pledged $2.25 million over a 10-year period.
More important than the relatively modest sum, at least by oil patch standards, was the potential for more funding down the road.
A pipeline operator and one of Canada’s biggest companies, Enbridge has traditionally maintained closer ties to the Edmonton-based University of Alberta.
For the U of C, a new Enbridge-sponsored research centre represented a step towards establishing its own direct relationship with a key industry player.
The pairing, though, was fraught from the start, and one of those who felt that way was Joe Arvai, the young academic – a rising star in the area of organizational decision-making – who had been brought in to head the new venture.
For a young academic, Arvai’s march through the academic ranks since graduating with his doctorate in 2001 had been a dream scenario.
In 10 years, he moved from being an assistant professor at Ohio State University to becoming a full professor and the U of C’s Svare chair in applied decision research.
Joe Arvai UCalgary
U of C academic Joe Arvai spoke out repeatedly about how much influence Enbridge had on the university. (University of Calgary)
Over that time, he was on Barack Obama’s energy advisory group during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, Stanford named him a Leopold Leadership fellow and he also worked for international agencies such as NASA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board and the International Energy Agency.
From the outset, though, Enbridge’s hands-on approach to the new centre troubled Arvai, according to the email trail.
Beyond naming rights, Enbridge sought to influence board memberships, staffing and the type of students that would be considered for awards, the emails show.
The company hired its own public relations firm to publicize the centre’s launch, and also wanted “customized opportunities” for Enbridge executives and clients to meet with researchers at the U of C’s Haskayne School of Business.
Enbridge also expected the U of C would form a partnership with a university in Michigan in what some have suggested was an attempt to help recuperate its battered reputation in the state after a broken oil pipeline spilled millions of litres into the Kalamazoo River.
In a Jan. 3, 2012 email to Leonard Waverman, the dean of the Haskayne School of Business at the time, Arvai wrote: “I am not sure what we are signing up for. I have the impression that Enbridge sees the centre as a PR machine for themselves, whereas I see it as an academic research centre.
“In the latter case, it’s likely that finds of academic work in the centre will not, at times, paint industry — including Enbridge — in the best light. I’m not sure that Enbridge understands this.”
The dean responded that he did not understand Arvai’s concerns.
At one point the dean told Arvai in a voicemail message, “If this goes belly up my ass is on the line and I won’t feel happy with you either on this.”
Waverman, who left the U of C near the end of 2012 to become dean of McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business, declined an interview request. Arvai also chose not to comment on the advice of legal counsel.
The benefits to Enbridge in championing this new centre seemed straightforward.
A series of industry pipeline spills were not doing the company any favours. If the centre could help to win hearts and minds for its existing operations or a major new project like the Northern Gateway pipeline, which was grinding through a controversial regulatory review and months of contentious public hearings, then presumably it would be a few million dollars well spent.
When viewed through the lens of the outrage caused by oil spilling into a pristine Midwest river – one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history — a partnership between the U of C and Central Michigan University, which some would argue makes little sense on paper, becomes much more understandable.
At the same time, the prospect of so nakedly serving corporate interests seemed to appall Arvai.
“My strong concern is that people will view the relationship with CMU as somewhat contrived,” Arvai wrote in a March 1, 2012 email to Dan O’Grady, Enbridge’s national manager for community partnerships and investment.
“To be blunt, some will view this as a ‘payoff’ of some sort to CMU in the aftermath of the spill.”
Waverman, though, had been more accepting. “If CMU is the price we pay in the short run — that’s the price,” he wrote in an email to Arvai on April 13, 2011.
‘Apologists for industry’
Instances such as the controversy surrounding the Enbridge Centre have done little to refute the U of C’s reputation, according to Arvai, of being in the pocket of the oil industry.
Faculty members, such as business professor Harrie Vredenburg, described Enbridge’s influence at the university as a classic case of “he who pays the piper calls the tunes” in an email complaint to Waverman on Aug. 26, 2011.
“Enbridge is doing too much tune calling, in my view, to the point that the Centre’s usefulness to [Haskayne school] academics is being sacrificed to Enbridge’s PR objectives,” Vredenburg wrote.
“Most damningly it smacks of us being apologists for the fossil fuel industry rather than independent scholars and teachers doing work in broadly defined area.”
The potential for conflicts of interest to arise when a public institution accepts corporate funding doesn’t mean that Canadian universities should necessarily turn away sponsorship dollars.
In fact, corporate money is becoming a more critical part of the funding model for Canadian universities as they no longer receive the same level of financial support from government as they once did.
Increased corporate sponsorship, however, also means that appropriate protocols must be in place to protect researchers and the public interest.
When it comes to the Enbridge Centre, questions remain about whether the university’s administration — and U of C president Elizabeth Cannon, in particular — did enough to safeguard these concerns. Emails show that Cannon was aware of the problems at the Enbridge centre before and after its launch in 2012. But her emails at the time show she was intent on keeping Enbridge happy, especially considering the company had in the past given more money to the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
“They have traditionally been strong supporters of U of A and this is the first major gift to U of C,” Cannon wrote to Waverman on Aug. 23, 2012. “They are not seeing your leadership on this file and are feeling that once the funding was committed, the interest from you was lost. This is not good for you or the university.”
When it comes to Enbridge, Cannon also has her own potential conflict of interest by virtue of her being an independent director of Enbridge Income Fund Holdings, since late 2010. She has disclosed this position. Last year, her board compensation from that position amounted to $130,500.
Enbridge’s chief executive Al Monaco, meanwhile, is a U of C alumnus who has sat on the university’s Board of Governor’s Investment Committee as well as the Dean’s Advisory Board to the Faculty of Medicine.
Bonnie DuPont, who was a member of centre’s board and currently chairs the U of C’s board of governors, is a former Enbridge vice president.
Cannon’s Enbridge connection
David Keith, a star academic in his own right who left the U of C for Harvard in 2011, has been highly skeptical of the school’s apparent chummy relationships with corporate Calgary.
The U of C’s handling of the Enbridge centre, Keith said, illustrates the type of choices made by administration that prompted at least two academics, him included, to leave the school. If the dean wasn’t aware of Cannon’s connection to Enbridge, Keith says that’s a potential conflict.
“If Elizabeth was a board member and was receiving money from Enbridge, and the same time wrote an email about that without clearly disclosing her conflict of interest without discussing it — that’s ugly,” Keith said in an interview with CBC.
In his opinion, “that’s the kind of stuff that in an effective managerial culture, the board of governors would call her to account.”
In an interview with CBC, Cannon says she does not know if the dean knew of her role with Enbridge. Regardless, she says, “every time I speak, it is as a university president and president of the University of Calgary.”
Such close ties between a university and a company aren’t necessarily problematic, as long as they’re properly managed.
In Keith’s view, the university has only itself to blame for losing someone like Arvai who stepped down as the head of the Enbridge centre before its launch, though he remained on the board.
“From my conversations with many people who were involved, including Joe, but several others, and not just conversations, but detailed notes and emails, my understanding is that Joe Arvai was removed as director of the centre before its formation at the specific request of Enbridge,” said Keith.
For its part, Enbridge says it values academic independence and didn’t attempt to influence the centre’s operations or staffing choices. The company told the CBC it made the donation without any strings attached and the partnership in Michigan was not about publicity.
Both Enbridge and the U of C also deny the company had any input in Arvai leaving the director job.
According to the U of C, no academics ever made formal complaints about their academic freedom being infringed upon. The university’s president says the institution’s credibility and reputation are not at risk.
Last fall, Enbridge’s name was taken off the centre. It is now just the Centre for Corporate Sustainability.
Under a revised agreement, the company also dropped its funding to the school by one million dollars. Enbridge continues to sponsor the centre’s seminar series, as well as arrangements with several other university departments. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
The audit was assessing allegations that:
1. Prof. Cooper helped secure Revenue tax receipts for FOS donors, even though FOS does not have charitable status;
2. Prof. Cooper channeled money through the university that was later used to fund what “may be considered third party advertising under the Elections Act” – an ad campaign that was never registered and would contravene Elections Canada laws;
3. Prof. Cooper vastly overstepped his authority in authorizing payments on behalf of FOS to public relations companies and political lobbyists – in one case dispersing more than $100,000 to the PR firm APCO Worldwide;
4. Prof. Cooper used U of C trust fund money to “employ” his wife and daughter, without appropriate permission and in contravention of university rules.
5. The activities funded through the trust accounts “were not legitimate scientific research and education and were funded by anonymous donors to promote special interests.”
The most memorable moment was when Dr. John Cherry, the renowned hydrogeologist from the University of Guelph [who was appointed under the Harper government to chair the Council Canadian Academies frac panel], characterized the activities in the U.S. as a grand experiment with no proper scientific research on the effects of hydrofracturing on the environment. He challenged the funding mechanisms for such research in the U.S. because of the ties between universities and industry (or other parties), and indicated that the U.S. would be better off with a funding system similar to that in Canada, where the funding is not similarly tied and thus scientific research can proceed relatively unencumbered. [Emphasis added]
The EnCana Chair in Water Resource Sciences will serve as the catalyst for comprehensively documenting, analyzing and protecting groundwater systems in Alberta.
… The Haskaynes are well-known for their contributions to various institutions, including the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business.
… Well-known in both business and philanthropy circles, the Haskaynes have deep ties to the Rosebud area. Mrs. Haskayne (nee Kenney) grew up in the community of Redland just west of Rosebud. Mr. Haskayne was raised in nearby Gleichen. Steadfast supporters, the Haskaynes say, “The Centre, whose vision aligns with ours, provides quality education and entertainment. Simply, it has kept the community of Rosebud alive. We are proud to honour our rural roots and to offer financial support to ensure continued success!”
Circles: EnCana Wells Perforated and or Hydraulically Fractured Above the Base of Groundwater Protection before April 2006
Solid dots: EnCana Wells Perforated and or Hydraulically Fractured Above 200m before April 2006
E = approximate location of Ernst property
Blue = Location of Rosebud Hamlet water reservoir that blew up in 2005, after Encana illegally fractured the community’s drinking water aquifers
Richard F. Haskayne On May 28, 2002, the school was named in honour of Richard F. Haskayne, OC, AOE, FCA, and the Haskayne Endowment for Achieving Excellence was created. … The $16 million donation (plus a sizeable parcel of real estate) made by the Haskaynes was the largest charitable contribution in the history of the university at the time, and one of the largest contributions to any business school in Canada.
Mr. Haskayne is the past Chairman of the Board of TransCanada Corporation retiring in April 2005. He was Chairman of Fording Inc. from 2001 to 2003, retiring when the company was converted into a Trust. He was Chairman of NOVA Corporation from 1992 to 1998 when the company merged with TransCanada PipeLines Limited (TCPL). Mr. Haskayne was Chairman of TransAlta Corporation from 1996 to 1998 and Chairman of MacMillan Bloedel from 1996 to 1999 when it was acquired by Weyerhaeuser Company. Prior to 1992, he was Chairman, President and CEO of Interhome Energy Inc., an integrated energy company with two principal business units – Interprovincial Pipe Line and Home Oil. Before joining Home Oil as President and CEO in 1982, he had spent more than 20 years with Hudson’s Bay Oil and Gas in various positions and was elected President of the Company in 1980. He has served as director on 20 public company boards; among them, Manulife, AEC, Crestar, EnCana Corporation, Weyerhauser Company and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
Northern Tigers: Building Ethical Canadian Corporate Champions Mar 28 2007 by Richard Haskayne (Author), Paul Grescoe (Author, Contributor)
Northern Tigers: Building Ethical Canadian Corporate Champions is both a fascinating memoir by one of the most successful executives in North American business history, and a personal manifesto from an outspoken corporate leader on the issues of business ethics and private philanthropy. …
Haskayne has written first-hand the fortitude and the foibles of many of the most sensational and colourful characters in Canadian corporate circles, entrepreneurs and businessmen such as the Reichmann brothers (international developers, Hiram Walker, Gulf Canada), ?Smilin?? Jack Gallagher (the lord of Dome Petroleum), Harley Hotchkiss (oilman, Calgary Flames co-owner, NHL chairman), and Gwyn Morgan (EnCana founder).
Among many successes, he helped guide some of Canada?s largest-ever mergers, including Fording Coal/Sherritt International, NOVA/TransCanada, and PanCanadian Energy/Alberta Energy, which gave birth to EnCana. But there were many obstacles along the way, too. Haskayne is bluntly forthcoming and regretful about the ones that got away….
Slide from Ernst presentations