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Three months have passed since my last day at Postmedia News. In that time, I’ve heard from some who are curious about what I’ve been working on.

I used to archive old published stories on this page. But from now on it will be the spot to keep track of my latest investigations.

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Feds say industry organized PR strategy for oilsands

Published by Postmedia News on Tuesday Aug 9 2011

OTTAWA – Natural Resources Canada says a powerful oil and gas industry lobby group was responsible for organizing a key meeting and some controversial messaging, in partnership with government, to polish the image of Alberta’s oilsands industry.

In newly released emails and internal records, department officials said the strategy to “turn up the volume” and get “the right attitude” on oilsands advocacy was actually proposed by high-ranking officials from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers during a March 2010 meeting involving senior federal and Alberta government officials, as well CEOs from oil and gas companies.

“The meeting was organized by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP),” wrote Natural Resources Canada media relations manager Paul Duchesne in an email sent on March 15, 2011, that was supposed to be delivered to Postmedia News. “We suggest you contact CAPP for more information.”

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Governments working with oil execs to curb oilsands criticism, documents show

Published by Postmedia News on Tuesday Mar 15 2011

OTTAWA – Senior federal and Alberta government officials are working hand-in-hand with a task force of oil and gas CEOs to “turn up the volume” on communications tactics to fight criticism about the industry’s environmental record, newly released federal documents have revealed.

The briefing notes from Natural Resources Canada, obtained by Postmedia News, highlight the role of the committee that sought input from a former senior adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a strategy designed at “upping their game” against criticism from other countries, as well as from Canadians in Ontario and Quebec.

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Conservatives deny diplomatic push to shield oilsands from U.S. environmental rules

Published by Postmedia News on Mon Nov 29 2010

OTTAWA – The Harper government dismissed accusations Monday that its environmental policies were focused on protecting the Alberta oilsands, in light of newly-released documents showing some oil-friendly Canadian diplomats attempting to undermine foreign environmental policies.

The documents were released as international negotiators from almost 200 countries gather in Cancun, Mexico, for the annual United Nations climate change summit. They also coincide with an acknowledgment from Environment Minister John Baird last weekend that Canada would not follow the lead of the Obama administration in its plans to set new limits on greenhouse gas pollution from new industrial facilities and major expansions to existing ones starting in the year 2011.

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Canada enlists Big Oil to help kill U.S green policies

Published by Postmedia News on Sun Nov 28 2010

OTTAWA – Canadian diplomats in Washington have quietly asked oil industry players such as Exxon Mobil and BP to help “kill” U.S. global warming policies in order to ensure that “the oil keeps a-flowing” from Alberta into the U.S. marketplace, Postmedia News has learned.

In a series of newly-released emails from Canada’s Washington embassy, the Canadian diplomats described recommendations from Environment Canada to clean up the oilsands as “simply nutty,” proposing instead to “kill any interpretation” of U.S. energy legislation that would apply to the industry.

“We hope that we can find a solution to ensure that the oil keeps a-flowing,” wrote Jason Tolland, from the Canadian Embassy in an exchange of emails with government trade lawyers on Feb. 8, 2008.

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Canada’s oilsands strategy includes lobbying against global warming measures: documents

Published by Postmedia News on Sunday Nov 21 2010

OTTAWA – Three major departments in the federal government have been actively co-ordinating a communications strategy with Alberta and its fossil- fuel industry to fight international global-warming policies that “target” oilsands production, newly released federal documents reveal.

The documents, obtained by Postmedia News, suggest that Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, have collaborated on an “advocacy strategy” in the U.S. to promote the oilsands and discourage environmental-protection policies.

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University of Calgary and Talisman distance themselves from global warming contrarians

Published by Postmedia News on Friday Sep 16 2011

While one American-based climate change skeptic walked away with a $541 soapstone carving, Talisman Energy and other donors to “research” funds at the University of Calgary received tax receipts as a result of a public relations campaign to cast doubt on global warming science, newly released records have revealed.

The revelations from hundreds of pages of invoices and accounting documents from an internal audit come as the university and Talisman, an Alberta-based energy company, move to distance themselves from the sophisticated international marketing and lobbying effort to discredit scientific evidence linking human activity to climate change.

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University climate research accounts used for PR, travel, wining and dining: records

Published by Postmedia News on Wednesday Sep 14 2011

OTTAWA – A pair of “research” accounts at the University of Calgary, funded mainly by the oil and gas industry, were used for a sophisticated international political campaign that involved high-priced consultants, lobbying, wining, dining, and travel with the goal of casting doubt on climate change science, newly-released accounting records have revealed.

The records showed that the strategy was crafted by professional firms, in collaboration with well-known climate change skeptics in Canada and abroad, allowing donors to earn tax receipts by channeling their money through the university.

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Talisman Energy kick-started University of Calgary climate skeptic fund

Talisman Energy kick-started U of C climate skeptic fund
Published by Postmedia News on Tuesday September 13, 2011

OTTAWA – A major Alberta-based oil and gas company helped to kick-start an elaborate public relations project designed to cast doubt on scientific evidence linking human activity to global warming with a $175,000 donation in 2004 channelled through the University of Calgary, a newly-released letter has revealed.

The donation from Talisman Energy was the largest single contribution to a pair of trust accounts at the university that received $507,975 in donations to produce a video and engage in public relations, advertising and lobbying activities against the Kyoto Protocol and government measures to restrict fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Talisman is pleased to be a part of this exciting project and wish you success in the production of the video,” said the letter, dated Nov. 4, 2004, to university account administrator Chantal-Lee Watt, that accompanied a $175, 000 cheque. Continue reading

Exclusive: Oil, water shortages, climate change could provoke wars: report

Published by Postmedia News on Tuesday Jun 28 2011

OTTAWA – Critical energy and water shortages combined with climate change could provoke wars within the next 15 years, warns a newly-released analysis by the Department of National Defence.

“Global reserves of crude oil could become problematic by 2025,” wrote Maj. John Sheahan in a draft version of the report, Army 2040: First Look. “This implies that (barring the discovery of significant new reserves, and barring the adequate adoption of substitute fossil fuels or alternative fuel and energy sources) critical energy shortages will develop in the time frame of (and perhaps prior to) 2025.”

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