Crawl Across the Ocean

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Vote for the Conservatives is a Vote For This

I highly recommend that everyone read this article (via Deltoid) by Charles Montgomery which appeared in the Globe and Mail yesterday (although I can't find it on their website - update: here it is - subscription only).

No really, the whole thing, read it.

A few quotes:

"There was plenty of money for the anti-Kyoto cause in the oil patch, but the Friends dared not take money directly from energy companies. The optics, Mr. Jacobs admits, would have been terrible.

This conundrum, he says, was solved by University of Calgary political scientist Barry Cooper, a well-known associate of Stephen Harper.

As is his privilege as a faculty member, Prof. Cooper set up a fund at the university dubbed the Science Education Fund. Donors were encouraged to give to the fund through the Calgary Foundation, which administers charitable giving in the Calgary area, and has a policy of guarding donors' identities. The Science Education Fund in turn provides money for the Friends of Science, as well as Tim Ball's travel expenses, according to Mr. Jacobs.

And who are the donors? No one will say.

"[The money's] not exclusively from the oil and gas industry," says Prof. Cooper. "It's also from foundations and individuals. I can't tell you the names of those companies, or the foundations for that matter, or the individuals."

When pushed in another interview, however, Prof. Cooper admits, "There were some oil companies."

The brilliance of the plan is that by going through the foundation and the university fund, donors get anonymity as well as charitable status for their donations. In the last two years, the Science Education Fund has received more than $200,000 in charitable donations through the Calgary Foundation. Yet its marketing director Kerry Longpré said in June that she had never heard of the Friends of Science. The foundation, she said, deals only with the university, which is left to administer donations as it sees fit.

Prof. Cooper and Mr. Jacobs both affirm that the Science Education Fund paid the bills for the Friends' anti-Kyoto video, Climate Catastrophe Cancelled."


Few in the audience have any idea that Prof. Ball hasn't published on climate science in any peer-reviewed scientific journal in more than 14 years. They do not know that he has been paid to speak to federal MPs by a public-relations company that works for energy firms. Nor are they aware that his travel expenses are covered by a group supported by donors from the Alberta oil patch.


But various levels of government have gone on to give Prof. Ball an audience. This spring he addressed the Alberta Tories in Calgary, as well as the province's standing policy committee on energy and sustainable development. On the trip Tom Harris organized for him in May, he met with the Ottawa Citizen editorial board, and gave his slide show to a half-dozen federal Conservative MPs and a clutch of Tory staffers. (Prof. Ball is not listed in the federal government's Lobbyists' Registry.)

He made a particular impression on Brad Trost, MP for Saskatoon Humboldt: "It really broadened the perspective. You know, maybe there is more uncertainty on [climate change]. Maybe we need to put more research into this to get a better idea," says Mr. Trost. "Just like the Y2K problem, we were a little oversold on that one. You sort of wonder. Just because something is repeated often, it doesn't make it true."


"We started out without a nickel, mostly retired geologists, geophysicists and retired businessmen, all old fogeys," says Albert Jacobs, a geologist and retired oil-explorations manager, proudly remembering the first meeting of the Friends of Science Society in the curling lounge of Calgary's Glencoe Club back in 2002.

"Mr. Jacobs says he suspects that the Kyoto Accord was devised as a tool by United Nations bureaucrats to push the world towards a world socialist government under the UN. "You know," he says, "to this day, there is no scientific proof that human-caused C02 is the main cause of global warming."

"Our success is very recent, and our success is tied to the Conservative government," Mr. Jacobs says. "Rona Ambrose, she has been tearing down that Kyoto building."

The next big challenge, he says, is to reach children. The Friends of Science is now lobbying to have its message included in the grade-school curriculum."


Any words I could add would be written in anger, so it's better if I don't say anything. But I can't imagine someday having the next generation asking why I didn't do more to prevent global warming and having to admit that I voted for this bs.


  • The reason you can't find it on the Globe's website is because it was in the Focus section, which i think is available online only to those who have that paid Insider subscription.

    But thanks for the link - i plan to disseminate it further.

    By Blogger Radical Centrist, at 6:16 AM  

  • But I have an Insider subscription!

    I can't find it anywhere online (on the Globe site).

    By Blogger Declan, at 8:00 AM  

  • "The next big challenge, he says, is to reach children. The Friends of Science is now lobbying to have its message included in the grade-school curriculum."

    Jeezus H. Words fail.

    By Blogger Nightingale, at 9:55 AM  

  • The very definition of an Astroturf organization.

    Thanks for pointing this out, DC.

    By Blogger Thursday, at 10:07 AM  

  • I emailed Charles Montgomery about the article not being on the Globe & Mail website, even to paid subscribers. He replied that there is a document he needs to send to them allowing it to be published. Stay tuned, or go to his website

    Jim in Calgary

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:59 PM  

  • you can find the story on my own website at:

    It should now also be on the Globe's site. See the link on the above page.


    By Blogger editor, at 9:23 PM  

  • Thanks for the story Charles, it was a good one - one that people should hear.

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:27 PM  

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