Canada’s Deep State?


What a mindset. A Director of the Global Business Futures Initiative at the Haskayne School of Business on the topic of the Calgary Winter Olympics bid;

“I don’t think it really helps the unemployed geologist or petroleum engineer. There’s no drilling for oil in an Olympic project” (Sept 17, 2018 Calgary Herald).

It’s like “Hey, want a pizza?”  “I don’t know. Is it good for the oil industry?”

This Global Business Futures Initiative was started this year with a million dollar ‘gift’ from an anonymous donor. Director Adam Legge was formerly president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

Legge, on the school website “My aim is to work and ensure that business can adapt better to the changing world, and be viewed as a positive catalyst for making the world a better place,”

Based on his comment on the Olympic thing, I’d say that “adapt” bit is a fail.

Late last year this same school of business hosted an event “The Global Energy Challenge: What is the Future of Fossil Fuels?” with Keynote speaker Michael Greenstone, a Milton Friedman Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago, Director of the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago, and Director of the Becker Friedman Institute.

If you’ve read anything on the horrific 1973 to 1990 dictatorship of Pinochet in Chile, the names ‘Friedman’ and ‘Chicago School’ probably ring a bell. Chicago schooled economists came to power with Pinochet. It was a period of economic growth termed the “Miracle of Chile”. However its success came with cuts to things like education, health and housing; sweeping privatization on one hand but State control of key industries such as oil; and the demise, quite literally, of working class power through torture, assassination, imprisonment and exile. Income disparity remains high in Chile, very much more a miracle for the  top 1% than for most everyone else.

A “Dollars and Sense” blog post in 2004 said that ‘the legacy of the dictatorship still lingers over Chilean public opinion and political discourse: The economics departments (with one or two small exceptions) all speak with a single, free-trade voice, the independent research centers are silent, and the government and the press laud the idea of more and greater export possibilities. In this climate, as a Chilean colleague said: “You can be critical, but if we say these things we will be committing economic suicide—our careers will be destroyed.” Less than 15 years removed from the end of the military dictatorship, in Chile dissent is still largely an unpracticed art.’ [bold added]

The day after Legge seemed to suggest the value of a thing can only be measured in oil, the Calgary Sun demonstrated that, like Chile, dissent is also unwelcome in Alberta.


Berman had been invited as keynote speaker to a conference of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. Some might think of schools as a place for reasoned exchange of ideas, and the teachers stewards of that process. However in Alberta, a province where school curriculum includes at the grade 4 level content on oil, natural gas, and coal, but not wind, geothermal or solar energy, this appearance by Berman seems to be an unbearable affront to many.

Berman has requested security for the trip due to threats, vitriol that comments from Alberta government and opposition Parties have only stoked. As Berman said on social media, “How are we going to move forward if we can’t even talk about it?”

Kevin Taft, former leader of the Alberta Liberal Party and author of “Oil’s Deep State” says that a deep state captures and harnesses institutions of democracy for its own use. While Big Oil has had a voice in Alberta school curriculum for some time, and clearly has a friend in the Global Business Futures Initiative and the anonymous donor who bankrolled it, apparently the deep state in Canada has not yet harnessed Alberta teachers. And that has some very angry.

Explore posts in the same categories: Environment, Politics

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