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Barry Cooper


Calgary Herald, Barry Cooper consign ethics and facts to the trash heap

Wed, 31 Dec 2008 21:19:11 +0000

In the strategic and apparently puposeful deception of a trusting public, Alberta’s Oil Patch Daily (a.k.a., the Calgary Herald) and University of Calgary political science Professor Barry Cooper are exuberant co-conspirators. Reasonable evidence appears in the column that Cooper pens weekly for the Herald, a pulpit that he used most recently to accuse actual climate scientists of committing “ethical transgressions” because they continue to share research pointing to the greatest environmental catastrophe in human history. For a ready reference to Cooper’s own ethical standards, it might be interesting to check out the University of Calgary’s audit of his activities in support of the oily climate change denial group, the Friends of Science. This is a man who created a University slush fund with which he tried to conceal the source of oil-patch funding for FOS activities. Through this account, Cooper enabled FOS to kick back tax deductions even though FOS doesn’t qualify for taxpyer subsidy. Cooper personally wrote cheques from the fund (some as large as $100,000), to PR firms that were engaged in an ongoing misleading campaign on climate change, overstepping his authority at the least and illegally siphoning off money at the worst, and he violated U of C rules by diverting some of the trust fund cash to “employ” his wife and daughter. For these “transgressions” there is no record that the U of C has enacted any penalties whatever. And Herald readers will be blissfully unaware of Cooper’s adventures as the paper has not seen fit to share this information in its news pages. Of course, this is a rag that will tell the truth when compelled to do so in court, but that falters when it comes to sharing actual factual information with its readers. An example of this can be found in the Herald’s treatment of Friend of Science Tim Ball, whom the paper lauded as the first climate change PhD in the country. When University of Lethbridge Professor Dan Johnson wrote to correct the record (the unreliable Ball is no such thing), the Herald wound up apologizing publicly to Ball and giving due attention to Ball’s ensuing lawsuit against Johnson. But in court documents, the Herald’s lawyers dismissed Ball as “a paid promoter of the agenda of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist.” This information, however, was never printed in the newspaper, and the Herald has never apologized to Dan Johnson, regardless of the damage done to his reputation when Ball filed the lawsuit and then cancelled it quietly when it became obvious that Johnson would not be bullied. In his most recent Herald  column, Cooper says, “This is an ethical or political problem, not a problem in climate science,” in reference to an undated quote from a web designer who is trying to suggest that serious scientists are backing away from the climate change consensus. If James Peden were a serious scientist, he might be in a better position to comment, but Cooper is correct: this IS an ethical or political problem, NOT a problem in climate science. It’s time that Cooper sidled up to a mirror and inquired as to how the continuation of this ethical and political problem can be justified. And it’s time the Calgary Herald came clean. Turf Barry Cooper, or post for reader information the extent of his Machiavellian political history. And apologize to Dan Johnson. For responsibility, for decency and - if it’s of any interest - for accuracy, it’s the least you must do.  [...]

UCalgary Audit Censorship Overruled

Tue, 08 Jul 2008 00:19:09 +0000

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.  AttachmentSize U of C Audit report censored.pdf1.19 MB U of Calgary full version.pdf304.46 KB Tags: apco worldwidebarry cooperUniversity oif CalgaryFleishman HillardMorten Paulsen Consulting[...]

U of Calgary: No Disciplinary Measures "At This Time"

Wed, 16 Apr 2008 18:32:46 +0000


Updating the story about the University of Calgary's damning audit of its relationship with the Friends of Science, U of C general counsel Charlene Anderson told the Calgary Herald yesterday that no disciplinary action is planned “at this time,” but “that might change at any time so the university is looking into that.”

Federal Environment Minister John Baird also chose to be insulting rather than communicative when asked about his own involvement in this story. Responding to a question, Baird said: “The member for Ottawa Centre (David McGuinty) puts on his tinfoil hat and develops these great theories.”

We'll look forward to the next chapter - and maybe a straight answer - down the road.

University of Calgary Audit Exposes Friends of Science Wrongdoing

Tue, 15 Apr 2008 22:32:39 +0000

A University of Calgary audit into its relationship with the climate lobby group, Friends of Science (FOS), reveals that in setting up two trust funds on behalf of FOS, U of C Professor Barry Cooper may have contravened Revenue Canada and Elections Canada laws - and, in diverting money to his wife and daughter, he most certainly broke rules at the University itself.The audit was assessing allegations that:1. Prof. Cooper helped secure Revenue tax receipts for FOS donors, even though FOS does not have charitable status;2. Prof. Cooper channeled money through the university that was later used to fund what “may be considered third party advertising under the Elections Act” - an ad campaign that was never registered and would contravene Elections Canada laws;3. Prof. Cooper vastly overstepped his authority in authorizing payments on behalf of FOS to public relations companies and political lobbyists - in one case dispersing more than $100,000 to the PR firm APCO Worldwide;4. Prof. Cooper used U of C trust fund money to “employ” his wife and daughter, without appropriate permission and in contravention of university rules.5. The activities funded through the trust accounts “were not legitimate scientific research and education and were funded by anonymous donors to promote special interests.” The U of C Auditors glossed over the first two allegations, appropriately leaving any determination of wrongdoing to Revenue Canada and Elections Canada, which are currently reviewing the case. (Elections Canada initiated its investigation after DeSmogBlog manager Kevin Grandia filed a complaint, but the University itself referred its findings to both Revenue Canada and Elections Canada.) On items #3 and #4, the audit revealed evidence that Prof. Cooper is most certainly guilty.And on item #5, on the question of whether any part of Cooper's FOS activities could legitimately be categorized as “scientific research and education,” the auditors said: “the evidence is not conclusive.”This investigation was triggered more than two years ago when a retired oil geologist named Albert Jacobs told the Globe and Mail that Cooper set up the U of C trust funds so that FOS could receive money from oil and gas firms but still claim that it was an independent organization. The anonymous donors would give money to the Calgary Foundation, which would then write a cheque to Cooper's “educational” trusts. And Cooper would pass the money along to the Friends of Science.The U of C audit confirms that the Calgary Foundation gave Cooper's trust accounts two cheques of $100,000 each. The auditors also confirm that another $100,000 was donated by someone “known to the university” who had asked to remain anonymous. And all this money was given to the FOS.Yet, the auditors say: “None of the grants funding to the (Cooper trust) Accounts were from anonymous donors.”This, clearly, strains the definition of “anonymous.” If the donors could hide behind the Calgary Foundation - or even the university itself - their anonymity is intact, and the Friends of Science could continue to say that they had received no money from oil companies; most of their funding came from Barry Cooper's slush fund.But while the auditors seemed to be covering the university's tracks wherever they could, they still recorded a good deal of damning evidence. For example (and as the DeSmogBlog has reported before), FOS boasted in its own newsletter that it was specifically targeting swing federal ridings with the advertising campaign that ran “coincidentally” in the middle of the last election. FOS further boasted in a post-election newsletter that their efforts had been successful.On the question of whether FOS donors received tax donations inappropriately, the auditors included this quote, taken from the FOS website: An attachment from the FOS website stating: “You can now make a tax deductible donation to the Friends of Science by using the newly establis[...]

University of Calgary Friends of Science Audit

Tue, 15 Apr 2008 17:13:07 +0000


Attached are the University of Calgary Press Release and the official Audit into allegations that U of C Professor Barry Cooper was using a university slush fund to direct anonymous cash to the Calgary-based climate change denier group, Friends of Science.

Analysis to follow in another post.

Calgary Herald: where oily opinion trumps fact

Fri, 21 Mar 2008 22:20:53 +0000


In continuing to run the “opinions” of the tainted University of Calgary Professor Barry Cooper, the Calgary Herald, newspaper of record in the Alberta oil capital, demonstrates a lack of concern for accountability, integrity and accuracy.

Prof. Cooper won national fame by setting up a University of Calgary slush fund through which oil companies could give money to climate change deniers without having to account for the donations or admit their association. When the scheme was discovered, the University shut it down, but that hasn't stopped the Herald from continuing to employ Cooper as a columnist - and from presenting his work as if it is accurate and unsullied by bias.

In a recent example - a column that ultimately presents some interesting new research on CO2-munching microbes - Cooper makes the case for “clean” coal, saying, “Burning coal also produces a biologically necessary and highly beneficial gas, carbon dioxide, CO2.”

In the current circumstances, this is plain goofy. Dismissing the risks of CO2 so cavalierly is analogous to promoting the indiscriminate release of cyanide because it is “highly beneficial” in leaching gold from raw ore.

That said, I would defend the Herald's right and responsibility to present Cooper's views, if the paper made any effort to inform readers of the nature of the professor's oil industry connections and of the efforts he has made to fool the public about those connections in the past.

On the contrary, however, this is a publication that will admit to a set of facts in court - saying, for example that Professor Cooper's associate, Dr. Tim Ball “is viewed as a paid promoter of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist” - but leave on the printed record information that vastly overstates Dr. Ball's credentials.

You are left with the impression that you can rely on the Herald to tell the truth “under oath,” but not necessarily to care about setting the record straight in its news or editorial pages.

If that's the case, no worries. But readers deserve a disclaimer. 

Friends of Science Elections Canada Investigation: Update

Tue, 19 Feb 2008 00:30:41 +0000


“The federal Liberals are calling for an investigation to determine who paid for a radio ad campaign in Ontario that attacked the federal government's action to fight climate change in the 2006 election,” CanWest Global's Mike de Souza reports here.

Further to our story of yesterday (see post below) about an Elections Canada investigation into potentially illegal interference by the Friends of Science (FOS), federal Liberal Mark Holland, inset, is now suggesting that a Parliamentary hearing may be necessary to find out who funnelled money into Barry Cooper's University of Calgary FOS slush fund .

The oily origin of that money has been well-documented, by the Globe and Mail, but it would still be fun to see the cancelled cheques - and to have Cooper and the FOS organizers called to account.

Elections Canada to Investigate Friends of Science

Sun, 17 Feb 2008 22:50:19 +0000


DeSmogBlog Laid Complaint; CanWest sets out the Case

Responding to a complaint that DeSmogBlog manager Kevin Grandia submitted late last year, Elections Canada is reported to be on the trail of the energy industry front group Friends of Science (FOS).

The DeSmog complaint pointed to FOS's own materials in stating the case. It is the law in Canada that anyone who spends more than $500 on advocacy advertising during an election must register with elections Canada. FOS siphoned $200,000 through a University of Calgary trust fund (courtesy of Barry Cooper, inset), didn't register, and boasted afterwards that they had helped swing key Ontario ridings to allow for the minority victory of Conservative party leader and current Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The first mainstream media coverage of this story appeared today in this very thorough Edmonton Journal story.

Some bios on James Hoggan

Sun, 27 May 2007 02:56:10 +0000

James Hoggan is the president of the public relations firm James Hoggan & Associates. Over the past two decades, Jim has earned a reputation as one of Canada’s leading public relations professionals. His clients have included A&W Foods, the North West Cruise Ship Association, Vancouver Port Authority, Canadian Tire, Business Objects and Canadian Pacific Rail.

He is the author of the PR Tips that regularly appear on the front page of the business section in The Vancouver Sun, and In 2003, James Hoggan & Associates won the Public Relations Society of North America’s most prestigious award – The Silver Anvil for the best crisis communications campaign in North America.

James Hoggan is Chair of the David Suzuki Foundation, an executive member of the Urban Development Institute and Future Generations and a Trustee of the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education. He helped establish the Suzuki Foundation Business Council on Sustainability to encourage collaboration between the environmental and business communities. Jim’s interest in climate change and his commitment to practicing ethical public relations converged recently in the creation of the popular website DeSmogBlog. The blog exists to identify unethical PR tactics and to expose the PR people who are trying to confuse the public about climate change.

Friends of Science Lives!

Mon, 12 Mar 2007 14:56:47 +0000


The Calgary-based industry front group Friends of Science (FOS), moribund since a Globe and Mail story revealed last year that FOS funding came largely from the oil and gas industry, has resurfaced promoting an “annual luncheon ” at which Carleton Professor Tim Patterson will offer a lecture entitled “The Sun as the Primary Driver of Climate Change?”

If any DSBlog readers attend, please ask Dr. Patterson why all his solar forcing graphs end in 1980. (See next post for the answer.)

Toronto Star Looks at Canadian Denial Machine

Sun, 28 Jan 2007 17:25:31 +0000

Canada's biggest newspaper, The Toronto Star, shines the light on Canadian climate change deniers in this weekend feature .

Calgary Foundation, University of Calgary Launder Oil Industry Donations

Sat, 12 Aug 2006 22:13:36 +0000

A report in the Globe and Mail (Canada's reputable national newspaper), reports today on the slick funnelling of oil industry money into an astroturf campaign to attack climate change science

(note: the story only appeared in the Globe's print edition, but an online copy is available at the author's own website here).

The following excerpt explains how (the group is question is called the Friends of Science and “Mr. Jacobs” is a retired oil-explorations manager who is one of the group's founders).

“There was plenty of money for the anti-Kyoto cause in the oil patch, but the Friends dared not take money directly from energy companies. The optics, Mr. Jacobs acknowledges, sould have been terrible.

This conundrum, he says, was solved by University of Calgary political scientist Barry Cooper, a well-known associate of (Canadian Prime Minister) Mr. (Stephen) Harper.

As is his privilege as a faculty member, Prof. Cooper set up a fund at the university dubbed the Science Education Fund. Donors were encouraged to give to the fund through the Calgary Foundation, which administers charitable giving in the Calgary area and has a policy of guarding donors' identities. The Science Education Fund, in turn, provides money for the Friends of Science, as well as Dr. (Tim) Ball's travell expenses, according to Mr. Jacobs.

And who are the donors? No one will say.

The money is 'not exclusively from the oil and gas industry,' Prof. Cooper says. 'It's also from foundations and individuals. I can't tell you the names of those companies, or the foundations for that matter, or the individuals.'”

Cute. We didn't realize that it was the privilege of every U.Calgary faculty member to set up funds designed to launder money for PR campaigns that are overtly political and that have no demonstrable academic merit.

Conservative Party Heavyweight Orchestrated Oil-backed Friends of Science

Sat, 12 Aug 2006 13:25:24 +0000

The DeSmogBlog has reported in the past the cozy connections between the(image) Friends of Science and Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. Now it appears that the pivotal person is also involved in trying to cover up the funding that he arranged for FOS’s operations.

Charles Montgomery reported in the Globe and Mail today that University of Calgary Political Science Professor Dr. Barry Cooper played a lead role in wiping oil money clean through the University of Calgary and then passing it onto the “grassroots” Friends of Science.

(note: the story only appeared in the Globe's print edition, but an online copy is available at the author's own website here).

Dr. Cooper is a charter member of the “Calgary School,” a group of U of C professors credited with the rise of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the ruling Conservative Party of Canada. Cooper is also Stephen Harper’s fishing buddy. That’s no crime; every prime minister deserves at least one friend. It just gets worrisome when the friend acts like he has a guilty conscience, attempting to cover his tracks in an evident effort to influence government policy.

PM Harper's fishing buddy behind Kyoto attack group

Fri, 21 Jul 2006 23:03:46 +0000

The DeSmogBlog has reported in the past the deep ties between the (image) climate  change spin machine and Kyoto attack group, the Friends of Science, and Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. These ties become even deeper when the chief architect of the Friends of Science is Dr. Barry Cooper, Calgary University Professor and long-time confidante of Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

Dr. Cooper is a very well-known member of the so-called “Calgary School,” a group of U of C professors attributed with the rise of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the ruling Conservative Party of Canada.

Cooper is also Stephen Harper’s fishing buddy. With Harper and his Conservatives scrapping climate change programs and moving away from the Kyoto Accord, the Friends of Science seem to be a well-timed, well-aligned third-party endorser that can create the public doubt Harper needs. And it's all orchestrated by one of Harper's closest allies.