Alberta Politics
Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan (Photo: Lieutenant Governor of Alberta).

Climate-change denial, bias, and a Marxist under every bed of leaves characterize papers commissioned by energy campaigns inquiry

Posted on January 15, 2021, 2:06 am
6 mins

An “engagement process update” published Wednesday night by the so-called Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns reveals inquiry head Steve Allan commissioned reports by climate-change skeptics and a fossil fuel industry advocacy group in the United States. 

A critical submission to the $3.5-million inquiry by University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski called the three commissioned reports “textbook examples of climate change denialism.”

University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski (Photo: Twitter).

“All of them minimize or outright dismiss the reality and seriousness of climate change, even though none of their authors appear to be trained in climate science,” Prof. Olszynski wrote in his submission, which was published yesterday on the U of C Law Faculty’s blog. 

“These reports are replete with generalizations, speculation, conjecture, and even conspiracy,” he said. “The matter of climate change denial is particularly important because it underpins the rest of the narrative in these reports, i.e., that other interests have opposed the oil and gas industry – including Alberta’s – not out of genuine concern for the climate or other environmental impacts but rather for some nefarious – perhaps even Marxist … purpose.”

A bluntly worded CBC story yesterday summarized the paid work as “junk climate-denial science, bizarre conspiracy theories and oil-industry propaganda.”

Strikingly, one of the reports, by newspaper columnist and University of Calgary political science professor Barry Cooper, includes a discourse on the supposed ties between Marxism and environmentalism. 

Marxism, opined the professor, is “a widely held ideological view among social scientists who engage with the question of environmental philanthropy.” Alberta’s taxpayers paid Dr. Cooper $6,125 for this and similar insights. 

Dr. Cooper claims in his bio that a copy of his book was found by Seal Team Six on Osama bin Laden’s bookshelf. He was involved in an effort in 2008 to use two U of C research accounts to funnel funds to the Friends of Science, described by the Globe and Mail at the time as a Calgary based anti-Kyoto group with ties to the federal Conservative Party. The Globe described Dr. Cooper as “a vocal critic of individuals who have ‘bought in to the global warming panic’.”

The inquiry also paid $27,840 for a report by Dr. Tammy Nemeth, a historian based in the United Kingdom, and $50,000 US to Energy in Depth, a group set up by the Independent Petroleum Association of America. That led University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach to dismiss the Washington D.C.-based organization as “the propaganda arm of an oil industry group.” 

U of C political scientist Barry Cooper, whose paper was commissioned by the inquiry (Photo: The Gauntlet).

In other words, Dr. Leach said of Energy in Depth in one of a number of amusing tweets on the topic, “it’s a foreign funded advocacy group.” Although not, presumably, one of the ones Commissioner Allan is interested in reporting on.

As for Dr. Nemeth, she has only a microscopic online footprint. It is unclear whether she has an academic position. One wonders how the inquiry found her. 

“The effect of all of this is that the Commissioner has spent nearly CAN$100,000 to commission these – and only these – reports,” wrote Dr. Olszynski, “which the Inquiry has acknowledged all approach the subject matter of the Inquiry from a common perspective. Simply put, it is troubling that the Inquiry did not commission any reports from the alternative perspective and, with respect, is suggestive of bias.”

Of course, critics of the inquiry have long assailed it as biased, politically motivated, and possibly in violation of the Alberta Pubic Inquiries Act, under which it was organized. The supposedly public inquiry has been conducted almost entirely behind closed doors. 

University of Alberta economist Andrew Lynch (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

It was established by United Conservative Party Premier Jason Kenney soon after his election in 2019, another promise made, promise kept from the election campaign in which he vowed, if never quite in these words, to Make Alberta’s Oil Industry Great Again. 

The engagement document also revealed that the inquiry has approached only 47 individuals and groups to comment, and only 11 bothered to respond. 

All this, said Ecojustice Canada Society yesterday, “underscores the inquiry’s total lack of legitimacy.” 

Granted, Ecojustice has a dog in this fight. It’s challenging the legitimacy of the Inquiry in court. Still, it’s hard to dispute its conclusion that “the fact Commissioner Steve Allan thought it relevant to commission and consult reports denying the reality of the climate crisis is just another example of how deeply flawed and biased Premier Jason Kenney’s inquiry into so-called ‘anti-Alberta’ campaigns is.”

The inquiry is scheduled to report on Jan. 31. It has had two extensions already, however, so it’s always possible the government will give it another one. It’s not as if that would keep us in much suspense. 

20 Comments to: Climate-change denial, bias, and a Marxist under every bed of leaves characterize papers commissioned by energy campaigns inquiry

  1. Dave

    January 15th, 2021

    I suppose the inquiry has been reduced to serving as a side show distraction, something to take attention away momentarily from all those UCP MLA’s who were not where they should have been. Aloha.

    So, while Kenney has not quite figured out how to convincingly fake populism after all these years in politics, he has at least figured out Trump’s tactic of how to find or create a new mess to take attention away from another one. Well fortunately for Kenney, he can’t be impeached, or even recalled, as recall legislation is one of his promises he conveniently hasn’t kept so far. Although, I hear he might yet bring in recall legislation, but it will probably only come in effect after the next election. Now isn’t that just too clever?

    Well at least it was good to finally hear something from the most secret public inquiry we have ever had. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it was a disappointment. Maybe our own Elmer Fudd will get another extension to chase down some more rabbit holes, because if that is all he could find, it would be embarrassing.

    Reply
  2. Stephen Clarke

    January 15th, 2021

    Hi David: First para graph : they’re Not “climate change skeptics” they’re deniers ! An important distinction you should know.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 15th, 2021

      You’re certainly right, Stephen. But you’ll have to accept that “climate-change skeptic” in litigious 21st Century Canada with its oppressive 17th Century defamation laws is a necessary code for “climate change denier” for those of us who don’t write for large corporate media. DJC

      Reply
  3. LAURENT DUBOIS

    January 15th, 2021

    Pretty much what one would expect from Calgary/Calgary School.
    I wonder if the learned professor would permit the janitorial staff at a hospital to diagnose and treat his cancer? False equivalence? I am not certain, but a report by people with no climate experience or training seems apt.
    And, as for “supposed ties between Marxism and environmentalism.” by a “journalist” in league with Corbella (and her purged UCP shilling): what about the ties between haemorrhoids and UCP membership?

    Reply
  4. Bill Malcolm

    January 15th, 2021

    Welcome to the wonderful world of paid propaganda. Bullsh!t tenderly re-moulded as a fragile rose, fired on a barbecue powered by hot fake credential air to keep its shape, and finally sprayed virgin white to sit on a formed tarsand pedestal adorned with a plaque: The Truth, signed Jayson Kenwah, Moi.

    Returning to the real world. Knock me over with a feather duster. Rehn kicked out of caucus? Things must be critical in kenneyland in the self-image department.

    Speaking of which, Henshaw is relaxing Covid-19 restrictions because kenney needs a haircut. and because only 967 new infections yesterday. So that’s all right then, because she says it was all her own idea. Jeez, I guess kenney/Henshaw beat back the virus and wrestled it to the ground, forcing it into submission! Who knew?

    You can’t say kenney learns from experience — this would be the second time ole jay and the doc cut back restrictions too early. The Con/UCP mind is a fossil immune to update, because it’s already dead. Only a thousand a day you say? VICTORY is ours! Now get a tat and a do and vote UCP! And stop coughing there in the back row! Must be a Marxist agitator. Oh, it’s you Horgan. Wha? Whaddya mean you want to close the borders with Alberta!? Illegal! Squawk, splutter, you socialist!

    Hey jay, try getting into New Brunswick without 14 days of navel-gazing isolation. Premier Higgs is Irving Oil’s um, Progressive Conservative premier and ex-employee. But even he and they aren’t so monumentally DUMB as you are, and boy, that’s saying something considering many regard NB as Canada’a only genuine feudal territory.

    Reply
  5. Jean-Raymond Audet

    January 15th, 2021

    My view is that Climate Change is a Reality and without Governmental Restrictions on CO2 Emissions, plus a Large Carbon Tax with the Transition over to Cleaner Forms of Energy! Alberta, Canada and Earth is Heading towards Andropocene Extermination and Our Own Extinction as a Conscious Ape Species after 4 Billion Years of Evolutionary Life on this Planet because of Greed of Our Trickle Down Capitalism that has Enrich Our 1% by a Thousand Fold but Our Poor have Suffered since the Implementation of the Neo-Liberal Tea Party American Conservative Doctrine of No Taxes and Near Abolishment of Social Programs For the Poor and Middle Class! Time to Shut Our Borders to TRUMP SUPPORTERS! Conservatives believe God is the Love of Money for the 1%, Heaven is Our Hell on Earth for Humanity when they are Destroying Devine Life Itself! Time To Share By Taxing The Rich!!!

    Reply
  6. Abs

    January 15th, 2021

    How much has the UCP paid for this inquiry so far: $3.5M? And it spent $100,000? Where did the rest of the money go? Do tell.

    Just another outrageous Kenney- UCP boondoggle.

    Reply
  7. ronmac

    January 15th, 2021

    Allan Inquiry = a smorgasbord of silliness.

    To get a better handle have a listen to the discussion below between Markham Hislop and National Observer journalist Sandy Garosinno who did a deep dive into the tar sands campaign and found it was only a small part of a much wider campaign to end fossil fuel dependence.

    https://youtu.be/g6B8UMfjc0U

    Reply
  8. Geoffrey Pounder

    January 15th, 2021

    UofC law professor Martin Olszynski: “Simply put, it is troubling that the Inquiry did not commission any reports from the alternative perspective”

    The alternative perspective? Is that what we are calling reality now?

    The best available science is the alternative to what exactly? Pathological reckless irresponsible greed-crazed fossil-fuelled madcap ideological twisted dogmatic troglodytic perverse ignorantist anti-intellectual Koch Bros.-funded denialism?

    Reply
  9. Neil Lore

    January 15th, 2021

    *ahem*

    Dear Alberta Taxpayer,

    Please pay me $50,000 for the following ironclad proof that all climate change deniers are foreign-funded Marxist job-hating Alberta bashers.

    1)Jason Kenney really likes money.

    2)Jason Kenney paid me $50,000 to tell you that all climate change deniers are foreign-funded Marxist job-hating Alberta bashers.

    3)Therefore, all climate change deniers are foreign-funded Marxist job-hating Alberta bashers.

    Please make my cheque payable to the “Holy crap are Albertan taxpayers ever a bunch of rubes” foundation.

    Reply
  10. Mike in Edmonton

    January 15th, 2021

    Olszynski published his submission to the Inquiry on the U of C law blog ablawg.ca –it’s the headline entry right now, and well worth reading.

    “I knew it was bad, but I didn’t think it was THIS bad.”–Anonymous

    Reply
  11. Lars

    January 15th, 2021

    Well, there we go, another example of government-mandated science.

    It has long puzzled me how Barry Cooper got away with the financial chicanery implicit in his support of the “Friends” of Science. If I’d tried anything like that with my research funding I’d have lost it, and deservedly so. Mind you, I was conducting actual scientific research, and so I didn’t have a penny to spare.

    Reply
  12. Carlos

    January 15th, 2021

    Considering that it has been a constant circus, this could not be any different.
    I keep wondering if at the end of this pandemic along with this government’s excruciating failure, if any of us will have enough mental health to move forward.

    Reply
  13. karl roth

    January 15th, 2021

    want to say unbUh effing lievable but unfortuneately it’s totally believable and not an iota of surprise re the waste of of time and money

    Reply
  14. Keith McClary

    January 15th, 2021

    Not much media coverage, National Observer has:

    Reached by email, Cooper said he believes the climate is influenced by several factors, “from plate tectonics to solar radiation variability, earth orbital variability (e.g., Milankovitch Cycles etc.), atmospheric and oceanic oscillations, cloud cover and aerosol variations, and yes, greenhouse gasses.”
    “The term ‘climate denialism’ as I am sure you know is a silly term analogous to holocaust denialism; that is, it is simply an insult,” Cooper said.
    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/01/15/news/alberta-inquiry-reports-downplay-climate-crisis-critics

    Plate tectonics and Milankovitch Cycles operate on time scales too long to account for the current warming, and everything else he mentions is taken into account in the IPCC reports. I think his science education ended when he went to high school with me (except, of course, for “political science”).

    Reply
  15. Just Me

    January 15th, 2021

    I guess the latest of Kenney’s boondoggles had to hand in their report ASAP, because another year and another million dollars would have looked….unseemly. These days, the UCP wears anything unseemly rather well, and often.

    The only thing that can be gleaned from this crazy pile of nonsense straight from Infowars is that there’s no one who is willing to stand behind this report. It’s a commission that released a report filled with a lot of hot air. There’s nothing that’s credible in it and it’s obvious. What is needed to promote this report and make it the lie that becomes the truth is someone like a Roy Cohen to push it.

    Yes, this report needs a shameless and amoral promoter, like Roy Cohn, to beat everyone over their heads with its so called facts and enemies list. A Roy Cohn would make threats, attack, belittle, and brutalize anyone who doubted this report’s sage wisdom.

    I dare Kenney to entertain us by going full Angry Midget and do just that.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    January 15th, 2021

    How do you spell disaster? I think it’s spelled UCP!

    Reply
  17. Abs

    January 16th, 2021

    There is some confusing information today about a possible extension to the January 31 deadline for the final report by Steve Allan. Emma Graney of the Globe and Mail has been posting about it.

    Will it ever end?

    Reply
  18. Valerie Jobson

    January 17th, 2021

    I can suggest a possible way the inquiry found Dr. Nemeth, who does have some published stuff about politics and or energy that get cited some.

    She also has something in the Dorchester Review though I can’t find the title elsewhere online, so can only conjecture what it is about: “The Folly of Western Retreat”:

    https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0765/7229/files/DorchesterReviewVol4No2COVER_1024x1024.png?14386642456317254330

    So presumably Chris Champion knows her, and maybe Kenney himself was impressed by what she wrote there.

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      January 17th, 2021

      OK, this stuff is even sillier than the stuff that triggered this so-called “public inquiry”, namely the whackadoodle thesis by Vivian Krause that environmentalist campaigns against Alberta’s fossil fuels industry were secretly funded by American oil giants to take market share away from Alberta-based suppliers. There was never any evidence to support that, of course, and it strained credulity to the breaking point.

      But this stuff is real tinfoil hat territory.

      Reply

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