Friday, February 19, 2016

A Fox In The Henhouse: Alberta's School Helpers

In response to a recent blog entry that discussed Rex Murphy's most recent oil-shilling efforts, The Salamander alerted me to a Desmog Canada story going back almost two years. It is a story with profoundly disturbing implications, dealing as it does with the infiltration by oil interests of Alberta's education system under the guise of corporate benevolence:
The province of Alberta has recently released a development plan for public schools that enlists Suncor Energy and Syncrude Canada in the creation of future Kindergarten to grade three curriculum. Oil giant Cenovus will partner in developing curriculum for grades four to 12.
Critics of this move are fierce:
Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema said “it’s definitely very disturbing that the Alberta government would see oil giants Syncrude and Suncor as key partners in designing Alberta’s K to three curriculum. Big oil doesn’t belong in Alberta’s schools.

He added, “It’s time that the Alberta government realizes that what’s good for the oil industry isn’t what’s good for the rest of Alberta and especially not our children. While oil may run our cars for now it shouldn’t run our government or our schools. Ever.”
This Trojan horse tactic is nothing new for the oil industry.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the country’s largest oil and gas lobby body, caused uproar last year when it partnered with the Royal Canadian Geographic Society in the creation of ‘Energy IQ,’ described as “an energy education resource for all Canadians…to engage Canadian teachers and students through curriculum-linked in-class learning tools, and to increase energy knowledge among the general public and community leaders.”
Cameron Fenton, national director for the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, wrote the partnership was “dangerous” and granted CAPP access to not only young and impressionable minds, but to the credibility of a trusted educational institution like the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.
The fact that CAPP aligned itself with Canadian Geographic, perhaps as cover, does nothing for the latter's reputation, subsequently sullied last year over Franklin Expedition controversy.
“What's potentially more concerning is the role that Canadian Geographic is playing. As a respected educational resource and publisher, their reputation is providing political cover for CAPP to present a dangerous and disturbing narrative and vision of the future of energy and climate change in Canada. Were CAPP to be taking this project forward on their own they would be the subject of great scrutiny by teachers, students and the public, something they probably hoped to avoid by using Canadian Geographic to take their industry spin into classrooms from grade 3 on up.”
While one hopes that the new Notley government will reassess CAPP's unwholesome relationship with education, the fact is that it is already well-entrenched:
CAPP has led Energy in Action programs in Alberta since 2004 to teach children about the petroleum industry and its role in environmental stewardship. In 2011 Alberta awarded CAPP the Friends of Education Award for the program. More than 59 oil and gas companies have participated in the outreach program which has run through more than 80 schools across Canada.
Given the scientific consensus that we have little time left to mitigate the worse effects of climate change and that upwards of 80% of fossil fuels must remain in the ground, it is surely past time to clear the henhouse of the all the foxes encircling it.


  1. That kind of thing happens in a one company town, Lorne.

    1. Time for them to expand their horizons, Owen.

    2. .. that all the likely suspects include any or all of National Energy Board appointees till the Rapture cometh, CAPP, the Stephen Harper cabin boyz glee club, coterie & canonization committee.. and the hiding in the weeds wannabe successors.. among others, a la pipeline partisans for China and Israel should seem a remarkable coincidence .. n'est ce pas ? Should we perceive this as benevolent generous curriculum support or dangerous 'grooming' infiltrating our education systems ?

    3. No doubt, Salamander, the prevailing wisdom on the right is that all of this constitutes corporate philanthropy non pareil. Who are we mere mortals to question such largess?