Correcting the Record

Earlier this week Kris Sims and Franco Terrazzano of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, Winnipeg Sun, Ottawa Sun and Toronto Sun. The opinion piece makes several false claims and connections regarding the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP), which we would like to correct.

The piece draws a connection between the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funding that was received for the CMP, along with the additional contributions to the research by the University of Victoria, and pipeline protesters— claiming that Canadian tax dollars are funding their activism. In actual fact, that funding has gone to support a large body of research that investigates the ways that corporate power is organized in and around the fossil fuel industry in Canada; it does not pay for the activism of anti-pipeline protestors.

As one part of the CMP research, we have produced a database that maps who’s who in the oil and gas industry in Canada and their relationships to the larger corporate sector, along with the Fossil-Power Top 50 listing that looks more closely at 50 of the more influential players and their relationships to one another. The op-ed implies that this database work is all that has been produced out of the funding, which is incorrect. The CMP’s work involves more than 35 research projects, whose results to-date are publicly available through the 19 peer reviewed reports and studies on our website, and a further 30 academic journal articles and book chapters. In addition to this larger body of research, the funding has gone to support the work and mentorship of 41 student researchers.

Sims and Terrazzano point out that data in the larger database is not up to date, though they imply that it is due to a failure to conduct thorough research. As the website clearly states, the database is currently accurate to 2017. The full database documents 1,656 organizations, 44,433 individuals and tracks 53,225 relationships between them — we will be adding to and updating this information, however to do so thoroughly and accurately does take time.

Independent research that investigates and maps the relationships within a powerful sector of the Canadian economy is important to a thriving democracy and we stand behind the work done by the CMP.

The Corporate Mapping Project is jointly led by the University of Victoria, the CCPA’s BC and Saskatchewan Offices and the Alberta-based Parkland Institute.