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Goodridge defends 'War Room' critics for oil and gas

Despite claims of job losses and $4.7 billion in coroprate tax cuts, UCP pushes on with War Room idea to stimulate growth

Fort McMurray - Lac La Biche MLA Laila Goodridge is defending the party line and defending the attack on the province's oil and gas industry in the face of political and environmental opposition. 

A recent news releases issued by Alberta's opposition New Democratic Party stated in several points what a "ridiculous failure" the province's self-described "War Room" to fight alleged misinformation about Alberta's oil and gas industry.  In the release that was sent out to media across Western Canada, the NDP's Energy Critic Irfan Sabire said the Canadian Energy Centre, created last December by Premier Jason Kenney, "must be scrapped." The release goes on to list everything that the Canadian Energy Centre has done wrong, including its own alleged creatoin of misinfromation, a copyright issue with its logo, and wha the NDP say is the program's estimated cost of $82,000 a day.

Goodridge who was returned to her UCP seat in the heart of Alberta's oil sands region last April's provincial election, says the NDP have it all wrong. 

“It doesn’t cost taxpayers $82,000 a day. They calculated it based on how much they got in total and then divided it by 365 days, but that calculation isn’t accurate,” says Goodridge. “Our government was elected to defend the interests of Albertans oil and gas sector, and the Canadian Energy Centre was created to fight back against the people that have been attacking our oil and gas sector for far too long.”

The purpose of the CEC, say government  officials was to improve the reputation of Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Premier Kenneyvbegan the war room to distinguish what he said were lies made by the environmentalists, opponents and foreign interest groups about the province's oil and gas industry.

Goodridge says those lies have been costly.

“In general, the lost investment in our oil and gas sector is in the range of millions if not billions of dollars, and a lot of that is due to misinformation being put out by foreign-funded organizations that are trying to landlock our oil plan, and the CEC is trying to fight back," she told the POST last week.

Identity issues

One of the biggest battles the 'War Room' has been fighting in its first few months, however, hasn'tbeen with hidden foreign infiltrators — it's been more about their own identity.  When the logo for the CEC was first revealed at its  launch, it looked very similar to the branding of U.S. tech company Progress Software. After a very public reversal on the CEC logo, the second corporate graphic rolled out late last year ran into similar trouble.  The latest version was said to resemble the graphic branding of a mobile phone app that regulates a user's time online.  The people behind the Alpha Browser say the CEC version is their logo, rolled 90-degrees with a maple leaf added. Alpha Browser officieals are considering taking legal action against the CEC.

The legal logo issues are grouped with the CEC's recent decision to remove their 'thumb's up' or 'thumb's down' counters on their YouTube channel because of an over-proportiate amount of 'down-votes.' The War Room has also caused blowback from members of the media and media watchdogs for thier use of the word 'journaliststs' to desribe their CEC research teams.

In the wake of all the CEC concern, Goodridge finds the silver lining among the clouds. “We have over 533,000 jobs that are supported by our oil and gas sector and the CEC is standing up for those jobs. As the back-and-forth of government and opposition continues, the NDP issued another release at the end of last week, countering that claims of job creation by the UCP are not factual, citing youth and young person unemployment is on the rise and more tan 50,000 jobs have been lost province wide — including more that 8,000 in the oil industry. The NDP continue to blame the UCP's $4.7 billion tax cut to large corporations that was created in last October's provincial budget.

Goodridge says the province's residents — and its workers — will see the benefits of the government's latests attempts to stimulate the economy ... but admitted it's hard to create the big results in such a short period of time.

"It takes time to develop an organization, and I think it’s fantastic that we have a government that knows exactly what our province needs,” she said.