The Alberta Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has forced the University of Calgary to re-release part of an audit report, overruling censored information about a university payment to a PR firm that helped prepare and distribute a climate change denial video.
The audit report - censored and uncensored versions of which are attached - states that the University of Calgary paid APCO Worldwide more than $170,000 for “advice regarding video production, promotion of the video, distribution of the video, media relations services and other services.”
These payments were made under a “Research on Climate Change Debate” project being run by Professor Barry Cooper. APCO's services were untendered (in violation of university policy) and the university can find no contract describing or authorizing the work.
All of this has been reported before as an elaborate effort to allow a climate change lobby group called Friends of Science to circumvent federal tax laws. By moving funds through the Calgary Foundation and Prof. Cooper's UCalgary slush fund, FOS was able to offer its donors tax deductibility on the basis that the money was being used for academic research. It's not clear what part of 'video production, promotion of the video, distribution of the video, media relations services and other services” constitutes academic research.
APCO also has a long and highly political history itself as a lobby and front group for tobacco companies and as an early intervenor in the corporate campaign to deny climate change.
We'll have more on all of this as the week unfolds.