Ottawa should stop funding anti-oil research

Just when you thought Canada’s nonsensical world of oil and gas policy couldn’t get any worse, consider this little nugget of lunacy.
The federal government is actually funding anti-oil research activists. Yes, your tax dollars at work.
If you visit the federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s website you’ll find a document that lists grants awarded in 2015, including one for $2.5 million over six years that will fund “mapping the power of the carbon-extractive corporate resource sector.”
The applicant is William Carroll, a professor at the University of Victoria, and his university contributed $730,000 towards the project. Thus, we’re looking at more than $3 million of public funding, plus staff time from participants from other universities.
Ironically, Carroll’s group, which includes reliable anti-oil organizations such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, is investigating “who is steering fossil fuel extraction in Western Canada and what influence do they wield?”
Presumably with a straight face, someone posted on the project’s website that they aim to conduct a “systematic mapping of how the carbon-extractive industry is organized — which companies are involved, who runs them, who owns them and how they connect to broader international corporate networks.”
If you peruse a few of the posts on the site, the bias against Canada’s energy industry is evident.
However, as researcher Vivian Krause has carefully pointed out, the real power players and influencers in Canada’s energy discussion have actually been powerful environmental groups that have received millions of dollars in foreign funds.
For example, the Tides Foundation in the United States has been funding groups in Canada to obstruct our pipeline projects. Without Canada building pipelines to the coast, our only real export option is to continue to send our product to the United States – a country that has been taking advantage of our lack of alternative buyers by paying Canadian companies less for our oil than what they pay other countries.
The whole situation is essentially economic sabotage.
And before someone accuses the Canadian Taxpayers Federation of taking huge cheques from “big oil,” that’s unfortunately not true. Though we would gladly accept them if they were ever offered.
While Carroll’s group is focussing on the industry’s “power,” the irony is that the oil and gas sector has actually been losing the fight.
Ottawa refused to allow the Northern Gateway pipeline project ($8 billion), they killed the Energy East pipeline project ($16 billion) and the $36 billion Petronas LNG project in British Columbia fell through as well. As many readers know, the Trans Mountain pipeline project in British Columbia is currently in disarray.
Now consider this – how would Ontarians react if Ottawa funded a similar project to look into the immense power of Southern Ontario’s auto industry?
What if Ottawa funded a project to look into Bombardier’s immense influence over government? Needless to say, the reactions would not be positive.
To be clear, if people want to examine Canada’s energy sector, go for it. But there’s no reason why taxpayers should have to pay for such advocacy.
If anything, Ottawa’s research should be focussed on the immense amount of money that’s rolling into our country from abroad, and obstructing Canadian companies.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation
Colin Craig

Colin Craig is the Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

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