Before the holidays, the Alberta Conservatives’ brainchild was officially launched. The Canadian Energy Centre, also known as the “energy war room”, was created to fight off criticisms faced by Alberta’s oil and gas sector. Critics, however, have compared the organization to a propaganda arm of the Kenney government and his corporate benefactors.

Suffice to say, the Canadian Energy Centre has not succeeded in its mission.

1. More cronyism

Already faced with corruption and patronage scandals, Jason Kenney seems to have doubled down on permitting even more cronyism. The new head of the Centre is Tom Olsen, a failed United Conservative Party candidate, who is now receiving a $195,000 salary.

2.  “Disproving true facts”

Shortly after the launch of the Centre, Olsen had an embarrassing Freudian slip during a television interview. While explaining the war room’s strategy, Olsen stated “we are not about attacking, we are about disproving true facts.” He claimed it was clear but a review of the video shows otherwise.

3.  Disclaimer alert

While the CEC claims to be fighting misinformation about Alberta’s oil sands, its website states otherwise. Their official website’s terms of use states that the CEC is unable to “warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of this information.”

4. Fake journalists

The Centre has also been accused of misleading those they interview for their own material.  The Canadian Association of Journalists has asked the writers at the CEC to immediately cease identifying as reporters.

The president of the association stated it perfectly. “When the government hires its own PR firm, that’s fine. But when you pretend that PR firm is journalism, that’s positively Orwellian.”

5. They keep stealing logos

The initial logo that the Centre was using had to be pulled after revelations that it was identical to that of a software company’s. Their second logo is now possible facing legal action for using the logo of another separate tech company.

6. They’re not telling the truth

If it was unclear whether the CEC fights misinformation or “disproves true facts,” this should settle it. Several of the big claims made by the Centre have been debunked.

For example, the  Centre claims that the carbon footprint of Canada’s crude oil is steadily decreasing. It is, in fact, increasing rapidly. They also claim oil produced from many of the newest oil sands facilities have per-barrel emissions levels that are at or below the average global barrel. This is not true.

7. Tax-payers footing the bill for it all

This whole experiment in government-funded propaganda has a heavy price tag. The Centre has a $30 million yearly expense. According to the NDP opposition, it is costing Albertans $82,000 a day.


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