Thursday, October 08, 2009

Premier Brad Wall lending his name and title to what appears to be a Canada West Foundation membership drive in Saskatoon

This is not just any dinner. It’s the “Premier Brad Wall Dinner.” And for $175 you can join the Bradster at the swanky Delta Bessborough Hotel on November 6, 2009, as he helps the right-wing think tank Canada West Foundation (CWF) celebrate the opening of its new regional office in Saskatoon.

“Together we can be the voice of the dreams, hopes and frustrations of Saskatchewan and western Canada,” the alleged non-partisan organization states on its website.

Each guest purchasing a ticket will automatically become a Friend of the CWF.

And for those with $2,500 burning a hole in their pocket they can purchase a table. This includes:

– Preferred seating for eight guests with one member of the CWF board

– Name recognition in program and all dinner related promotional materials

– Option to put any gifts or promotional material on dinner tables or insert in gift bags (one for each in attendance)

– One year membership to Canada West Foundation

CWF staff said in an e-mail on October 7 that any proceeds generated from the dinner will go towards the organization’s research work.

What we seem to have here is Premier Brad Wall lending his name and the power of his title to what is little more than a membership drive masquerading as a networking event to raise funds so the think tank can continue to churn out its conservative and business friendly reports.

There’s not much different from Wall’s pimping for the CWF to what Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty did earlier this year.

On June 19, the finance minister hosted a private dinner at the exclusive Albany Club in Toronto to “raise support” for a new Ottawa-based right-wing think tank called the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. The man behind the endeavour is Brian Lee Crowley, a Conservative Party contributor and the current president of the far right public policy think tank Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) in Halifax.

Flaherty reportedly circulated a letter inviting rich Bay Street types to the event saying he was giving it “my personal backing… and I hope that you will consider doing the same.”

The finance minister said Crowley’s initiative “deserves to succeed” and that he’d “like to see him return with a strong, independent and well-financed organization.”

So far there have been no reports of Wall or his staff sending out letters urging people to attend the dinner in Saskatoon.

So who’s the title sponsor of Wall’s chow down? Why, it’s an oil company of course: PetroBakken, a Calgary-based light oil exploration and production company focused on the Bakken formation in southeastern Saskatchewan.

According to an October 3, 2009, Leader-Post article the company is the result of a recent merger between Petrobank Energy and Resources Ltd.’s Canadian business unit and TriStar Oil & Gas Ltd.

And in case you didn’t know both Petrobank and TriStar are just two of the many Calgary-based energy industry corporations that have contributed more than $1.17-million to the Saskatchewan Party since 1998.

Many of Alberta’s oil and gas companies play a role in keeping the CWF well-funded. The organization’s most recent annual report shows the following energy companies as providing more than $10,000 in financial support to the think tank: EPCOR, Imperial Oil Limited, Nexen Inc., Power Corporation of Canada, and TransCanada Corporation.

Also a member of that exclusive club is N. Murray Edwards, whom the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business is named and where the CWF Saskatoon office is located.

Listed as funders and sponsors of the CWF are EnCana Corporation, Saskatchewan Enterprise & Innovation, SaskEnergy, Shell Canada Limited, City of Regina, City of Saskatoon, Suncor Energy Foundation, Suncor Energy Inc., and TransAlta Corporation.

Last but not least is CanWest Global Communications Corp. who contributed $500-$999. CanWest owns the Leader-Post and StarPhoenix, with the latter extending special treatment to the CWF and its president, Roger Gibbins, by publishing his numerous op-eds, sometimes twice a month. The most recent examples of this are July 17 & 23 and September 11 & October 1.

Prior to joining the CWF, Gibbins — who will be at Wall’s dinner — was a professor of political science at the University of Calgary and part of a group known as the Calgary School, which included Barry Cooper, Tom Flanagan, Rainer Knopff, David Bercuson, Robert Mansell and Ted Morton. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is their friend and their colleague. At one time, they were his mentors. [Educating Stephen (The Globe and Mail, June 26, 2004)]

In 1991, Gibbins was an adviser to Constitutional Affairs Minister Joe Clark in Brian Mulroney’s despised Tory government. [Canada could be more vibrant without Quebec, adviser says (The Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 6, 1991)]

The scary thing is with high profile elected officials now blatantly aligning themselves with certain think-tanks Canadians at some point might not be to tell who’s running the country.


At 7:54 AM, Blogger Julian Bradshaw said...

Is anyone surprised? There has never been a more ideologically driven government in our province. Even the Devine gang weren't this open with their right-wing agenda. I don't know why anyone would be surprised that the Bradster would promote membership in a right-wing organization. After all, that's where his big contributors come from, and those who pay the piper call the tune.

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a case of a Premier 'selling' his office for the benefit of a private sector think tank. Thanks for bringing this shameful misuse of the Premier's Office to public attention.


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