Kenney wrongly accuses federal Liberals of $2.5M grant to attack energy industry
Grant to fund academic project made 6 months before Trudeau Liberals took office
Premier Jason Kenney accused the federal Liberals on Wednesday of approving a $2.5-million grant to a "left wing special interest group" that was, in fact, made by the previous Conservative government under former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Kenney made the claim while retweeting an op-ed from Canadian Taxpayers' Federation published in the Edmonton Sun on Tuesday.
"The federal government benefits massively from taxes generated by our oil & gas industry & workers," the tweet read. "So why did the Trudeau Liberals give $2.5 million to a left wing special interest group to attack our energy industry?"
The grant referenced by Kenney was made by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for a project that aimed to document the "power of the fossil fuel industry in Western Canada."
The SSHRC is a federal agency that funds post-secondary research in the humanities and social sciences.
Harper was prime minister at the time and Kenney served in his cabinet.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals didn't take office until six months later after winning a majority in the October 2015 federal election.
Kenney's tweet, which was posted at 9 a.m. MT Wednesday, received 245 retweets and 529 likes after it was up for about five hours. The post was deleted late Wednesday afternoon.
A spokeperson for Kenney acknowledged the tweet was incorrect.
"The grant in question was announced a week after the Trudeau government took office, on Nov. 12, 2015, said Kenney spokesperson Harrison Fleming in an email.
"However, it appears that the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council approved it in April 2015, in a decision that did not require or receive ministerial approval," Fleming said.
"For greater precision, the Twitter post should have said the 'federal government' rather than 'Trudeau Liberals.'"
Photo of Trudeau
The article retweeted by Kenney was a column titled "Pipeline protesters shouldn't be funded by taxpayers" penned by Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and Franco Terrazzano, the group's Alberta director.
The article referenced a grant made to William Carroll, a professor at the University of Victoria, to fund a project that looked at "power of the fossil fuel industry in Western Canada."
Carroll received $2,496,543 for the project from the federal government; the university contributed another $730,000.
Though the article didn't mention Trudeau or the Liberals, the picture topping the article showed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion protesters holding a photo of the prime minister.
It also didn't mention the grant was made by the previous Conservative government. Sims responded to criticism of the omission via a tweet.
"Federal government is the federal government," she wrote.
"Don't care if the Flying Monkey Party is in power: they need to stop wasting our money. Harper gov shouldn't have given them taxpayers' money & the Trudeau gov. shouldn't continue to do so."
With files from the CBC's Robson Fletcher