Bruce Carson Lies Again: Conservative Fraudster Now Claims No Link to PMO But Lectured as Harper Government™ Veteran
I wrote about Harper Government™ aide turned energy industry astroturfer Bruce Carson a while ago. Since then, things have happened quickly. Carson was caught meeting with energy industry executives to downplay climate change concerns, and then meeting with Indian Affairs aides to illegally lobby them on reserve water filtration contracts. In response, he has been referred to the RCMP for investigation, and has also been forced to take a leave of absence from the leadership of the Canada School of Energy and Environment. This is welcome news, but we shouldn’t stop yet, especially since Carson is now distorting the truth yet again.
Before I get too far, let me point out that Carson’s work is already starting to disappear down the Internet memory hole. Until recently he was an adjunct professor at Jack Mintz’s right-wing School of Public Policy, which, in a rare feat of academic entrepreneurship, is currently selling its research agenda to the highest
bidder donor. That school has already quietly removed Carson from its website. The Energy Policy Institute, an industry lobby group which was led by Carson and turncoat politician David Emerson, has gone offline completely as I write this, although that may be only a temporary glitch.
During his brief two-year tenure at the CSEE, Carson seems to have been much more interested in addressing business and right-wing groups and in defending government policy than in providing an independent perspective from the perspective of scientific research. His addressees included the Canadian-American Business Council, the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, and the Calgary Chartered Financial Analyst Society. All in all, it has to be said that Carson failed entirely to live up to what we would expect from an academic, let alone scientific, Centre of Excellence. Instead he seems to have seen his job as an extension of the Prime Minister’s Office where he used to work.
Which is why I was pretty surprised to hear, today, the new Harper Government™ strategy of saying that Carson wasn’t really trading on his reputation as a former PMO adviser and that, in Carson’s own words, he wanted to “get rid of” the persistent link in people’s minds between himself and the Prime Minister’s Office. Gosh darn it, all he wanted to be was another independent academic, and anyone who introduced him as a former Harper Government™ adviser (as repeatedly happened) was just making a senseless “mistake.” Even the board of the Canada School of Energy and Environment, which includes governors from the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, and Lethbridge University, has been drawn into this new myth, claiming that Carson was hired because he emerged as the best applicant from an “extensive international search,” and not simply because he was a senior adviser to Harper.
First, let’s dispense with the obvious: the CSEE is not a scientific enterprise that honestly searches out the best science and technology masterminds to bring a new age of clean Canadian energy. Carson has no science background at all. The primary reason he got the job there was because he was Harper’s adviser and the school was set up as a Conservative front group. The criteria which would lead to him getting hired must have been dubious indeed. But even if I could believe that very long stretch of the imagination, I absolutely cannot believe that, just by chance, the same careful and conscientious hiring committee thought they’d found another diamond in the rough in Carson’s only listed colleague at the school, deputy director Zoe Addington — aide to two successive Conservative industry ministers, Jim Prentice and Tony Clement before switching over to the School of Energy.
Second, whatever the self-admittedly dishonest Carson may be saying now about how he stopped thinking about himself as a Harper aide “years ago,” he definitely played up that background on every opportunity imaginable while working at CSEE, where his official bio introduces him as a former Harper adviser; the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Ecomony (ditto), and the School of Public Policy (ditto again).
Third, and most importantly, Carson’s archive of recent speeches are online and are very illuminative about what was, until he recently agreed to be thrown under the bus, his proud record of being associated with the Harper Government™ Prime Minister’s Office. The main question from the media seems to be why Natural Resources Canada briefings described Carson as a former Harper aide in March 2010, with Carson himself chiming in to say he can’t understand why they would say that because “I had been out here more than a year by then.”
That same month, as I pointed out before, Bruce gave an openly partisan speech to the right-wing Manning Centre, called “Managing a Conservative Agenda in a Minority Situation.” In the speaking notes, Carson makes no reference whatsoever to his work at the School of Energy; instead, it consists entirely of reflections on his time in the PMO, like the importance of “unparalleled… faith in leader.” Listening to a speech like that, wouldn’t it be fair to say you were listening to a former Harper aide?
The Manning Centre speech was an extreme case, but in his other speeches, you also get the definite sense that Carson is more a government spokesman than an academic researcher. His speech to the Calgary Chartered Financial Analyst Society in October 2009, for instance, was a spirited defence of government environmental policy, a description of the various internal working groups, and a slam against Kyoto, which he described as “unrealistic” from the outset. He gave the same speech to the C.D. Howe Institute. I have a feeling that the electronic erasure of Carson will continue, so I’ve performed the valuable public service of uploading to this server all of Carson’s fatuous speeches, for posterity. I am sure that Carson will be grateful that his important contributions won’t totally dwindle away in ignominy.
- “Banff Dialogue” and Canada’s Plan to Reduce Carbon (June 2009)
- Calgary Chartered Financial Analyst Society(October 2009)
- C.D. Howe Institute (October 2009)
- Canada School of Public Service Advanced Leadership Program: Western Views of Major Canadian Issues (January 2010)
- Speech on the Copenhagen Conference (February 2010)
- G-8 and G-20 Policy Consultation: Issues in Vulnerable States (March 2010)
- Manning Centre: Managing a Conservative Agenda in a Minority Situation (March 2010)
- Appearance before the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources (April 2010)
- Yukon Workshop: The Need for a Truly “National Clean Energy Strategy” and That Includes the North (May 2010)
- Carbon Management Canada and the Federal Government Policy Agenda (September 2010)
- Clean Energy BC (November 2010)
- Solar Canada 2010 Conference (December 2010)