The Current

Enbridge & U of Calgary relationship challenges academic integrity

It began in 2011 with a pledge of more then $2 million to the University of Calgary from Enbridge, for a research centre in its name. Now a trail of emails shines a light on their relationship raising uncomfortable questions related to the university's academic freedom and integrity.
Professor James Turk says it is imperative that Canadian universities establish clear and transparent guidelines when entering a relationship with corporate donors. (University of Calgary)

"The issue here is not that Enbridge was asking, it's that a public institution, who's job it is to balance competing interests and do high quality research in the public interest, abjectly failed to do that."  - David Keith, former University of Calgary professor

Take a walk around campus at the University of Calgary and it won't take you long to start noticing the buildings and centres named after some big corporations.

And, this being Calgary, we're talking about big oil and energy companies: TransCanada, Suncor and Conoco Phillips are all there.

The U of C is considered a success when it comes to corporate fundraising. But a CBC News investigation has discovered that some believe the school's relationship with the pipeline company Enbridge has crossed a line.

The CBC's Kyle Bakx has been digging into the story and he joined us from Calgary. 

Enbridge responds to CBC investigation

6 years ago
Duration 1:03
Enbridge's D'Arcy Levesque responds to CBC's investigation into the Enbridge Centre 1:03

Of course, there is a long history of corporations funding research at Canadian universities, and it's something schools are counting on for the future as well.

As governments cut back on funding, the private sector is increasingly seen as important to help makeup the shortfall.

But it does create a challenge for universities: How to navigate that uneasy relationship of accepting corporate contributions, while maintaining academic independence and integrity. 

James Turk is a visiting distinguished professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. He's the former president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. James Turk is also the author of 'Academic Freedom in Conflict: The Struggle over Free Speech Rights in the University'. 

This segment was produced by Calgary Network Producer Michael O'Halloran.