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Memo to Kenney: Corporate Mapping Project was approved on Harper's watch

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One of the subjects of the Corporate Mapping Project’s ongoing study (Photo: Suncor Energy/Flickr).

It was a disappointing shock to learn of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's tweet yesterday morning blaming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the $2.5-million Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant to the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP) that was awarded on former prime minister Stephen Harper's watch in 2015.

"Why did the Trudeau Liberals give $2.5 million to a left-wing special interest group to attack our energy industry?" Premier Kenney tweeted, linking to a freebie article handed over to the Toronto Sun by a couple of Canadian Taxpayers Federation agitators. The SSHRC, for some reason, is a particular bee in the CTF's bonnet.

The CTF op-ed noted the academic study managed by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (and Edmonton's Parkland Institute, it must also be noted) "lists about 100 people as advisers and collaborators, mostly from unions and academic institutions. (Full disclosure: I am one of those people, although I can't recall at the moment if I'm a collaborator or an adviser.)

It should also be added that Kenney, a former CEO of the CTF, was a senior member of Harper's cabinet when this deed was done, and Jack Mintz, the Harperites' favourite economist, was vice-president and chair of the SSHRC's governing council.

If you were thinking Harper and Mintz might now be called to account by Kenney's war room, don't hold your breath. After a few hours, and several responses pointing out the embarrassing facts, Kenney's tweet disappeared down the memory hole.

I was disappointed, of course, because over the past four years I have reported on at least three occasions on this blog that the SSHRC grant supporting a study exposing the fossil fuel industry to some much-needed sunlight was awarded while Harper was prime minister, a development that I observed when it happened with dumbfounded incredulity. My theory at the time was that some functionary in Harper's office must have seen "corporate mapping project," concluded, "that sounds like a good idea," and read no further before stamping it "APPROVED!" Either that, or the SSHRC really is independent. 

Regardless, this would appear to mean Kenney isn't racing to read AlbertaPolitics.ca every morning before he flips open his copy of the more sympathetic National Post.

To be completely honest, given the great work the CMP has been doing, I am astounded it has taken this long for the CTF and their former CEO to start trying to discredit it.

Speaking of the CTF and Twitter, I was also astounded to read the tweet yesterday by the group's federal director, Aaron Wudrick, in which he asked, "How bad is the Flames' arena deal?" and answered, "So bad that I'm 100% with @djclimenhaga on this one."

Say what?

I believe Wudrick will come to deeply regret that tweet, especially after he reads all the way to the bottom of my post.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Photo: Suncor Energy/Flickr

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