The head of Alberta’s $30-million-a-year energy war room is apologizing after the organization posted a lengthy social media response to an article in The New York Times that questioned the news organization’s credibility.
The Canadian Energy Centre’s Twitter account said The Times has been “called out for anti-Semitism countless times,” has a “dodgy” track record, is “routinely accused of bias” and is “not the most dependable source.”
Four of the tweets were then deleted from a 20-tweet thread posted in response to a Times article on international lenders that have stopped financing oil sands projects in Alberta.
The remaining tweets take issue with the news agency’s interpretation of the data, and defend the environmental record of Canada and the oil and gas sector, but don’t directly attack the newspaper’s credibility.
The centre was promised by Premier Jason Kenney in the provincial election last year with a mandate to promote the energy industry and fire back in real time against what the United Conservative government deems to be misinformation.
Tom Olsen, who heads the energy centre, apologized via his personal Twitter account for the offending tweets and said the issue has been dealt with internally.
“I apologize for some of the tweets in (The Canadian Energy Centre) Twitter thread this a.m.,” he wrote. “The tone did not meet CEC’s standard for public discourse.”
Olsen added that “there will be a substantive response” to the article within the centre’s “mandate of challenging inaccuracies.”
The centre did not immediately respond Wednesday afternoon to e-mail and phone requests for comment. The Times did not immediately respond to a comment request.
The centre has been criticized previously for using another organization’s trademarked logo and for having its staff members refer to themselves as reporters instead of government employees.
Olsen has been mocked by critics for a slip of the tongue in a TV interview in which he said the purpose of the centre is about “disproving true facts.”
The Calgary-based centre has been set up as a provincial government corporation, but is overseen by three cabinet ministers on its board of directors.