"Are Tories attempting to buy academic endorsement of government policy?" asks McGowan
Edmonton – The Alberta Federation of Labour has released documents that suggest the Redford government has been spending taxpayer money in an effort to buy academic approval for their policies.
In March, 2012, just days after a provincial election was called, the government awarded a secret $500,000 grant to the U of C School of Public Policy and a $1-million grant to the U of C Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy. As reported in today's Calgary Herald, there was no record of an announcement of either grant.
Additional documents, obtained by the AFL under Freedom of Information laws, show U of C School of Public Policy chair Jack Mintz asked the Government of Alberta to vet his paper on imposing a sales tax in Alberta, before it was peer-reviewed or published.
Questions have also been raised about Mintz's seat on the board of Imperial Oil.
"All of our universities are publicly funded, so receiving money from the government is not the problem," AFL president Gil McGowan said. "The problem is the secrecy and the fact that the money was tied to supporting the government's policy agenda."
The contracts for the grants explicitly said the money was for research that "supports the policy agenda of Alberta Energy." Documentation for both grants also includes clauses that the U of C will "not make any public announcement or issue any news release regarding this agreement or the grant, except in consultation with the province and with the approval of the province."
"These secret grants raise concerns that the government is using public money to essentially buy an academic stamp of approval for its policies," McGowan said. "If academics are sitting on the boards of big corporations and receiving secret grants from government that seem to have political strings attached, how can the public trust their independence and objectivity?"
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org