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I’ll take MPs who own energy stocks for $10,000

In this week’s newsletter, we take you through an investigation few MPs wanted to talk about: investing in fossil fuel giants, legislative decision-making and the ethics of it all
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Illustration of the back of the head of a man with white hair raising his hand covered in oil with Canadian flags in the background and another man holds up a piece of paper.
“Why you would focus on oil and gas stocks is beyond comprehension.”

That’s what an Alberta MP told reporters Carl Meyer and Rianna Lim as they tracked down federal politicians who disclosed significant shares in major fossil fuel companies.

To Carl and Rianna, the ‘why’ was pretty clear: could stock holdings influence legislative decision-making, or create the appearance of a conflict of interest? And shouldn’t more transparency be a good thing?

Back in January, Rianna and the Investigative Journalism Foundation brought a whole chunk of data to Carl. They’d taken a look at MP investment disclosures and cross-referenced them with stocks that appeared on the Toronto Stock Exchange — to see who reported shares in oil and gas companies.

Turns out, 30 MPs or their spouses had shares in oil and gas stocks worth over $10,000, each, between 2020 and 2022. Six are ministers, while four are members of the natural resources committee — the same one that studied implementing a greenhouse gas emissions cap for the oil and gas sector to bring Canada closer to its climate targets.

“I felt like I was bringing this to people’s attention for the first time, walking them through why this could be a problem to begin with,” Carl told me.
 
Headshots of Carl and Rianna
Giants like Enbridge, TC Energy (each behind contentious pipeline projects) and Suncor (which recently reported a six-million-litre wastewater spill in northern Alberta) were among the top-listed stocks.

After digging through the data, Carl and Rianna started getting in touch with all 30 MPs — most weren’t too eager to answer questions.

And while there’s no evidence of any politician breaking the law, the rules around MPs and stock holdings … aren’t exactly straightforward.

Experts told Carl and Rianna it’s “dishonourable” for these MPs to be involved in decision-making and that a better system for public disclosures is needed. Another observer said investments in powerful fossil fuel companies could disrupt political action to address climate change.

Both Carl and Rianna hope their investigation — with a detailed database of tracked investments — can help kickstart a conversation about increasing transparency in the halls of power.

Take care and don’t lose interest in the natural world,

Karan Saxena
Audience fellow

 
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The magic number is 19


We are a little lost for words: The Narwhal picked up a whopping 19 award nominations this week, including 14 at the Digital Publishing Awards — a recognition of our immersive, web-first online journalism.

The 14 nominations, tied for second-most of any news organization and behind only The Globe and Mail, include selections for work ranging from a data-driven feature on Indigenous Guardians, cross-border reporting on the impacts of Canadian mines and features capturing the impacts of climate change. Ontario reporter Emma McIntosh was named a finalist for the emerging excellence award, while our limited-run newsletter on that province’s 2022 election campaign also snagged a nod.

We also took home five nominations at the National Magazine Awards for features on threatened plovers and caribou, along with selections for photo essays capturing life in northern Alberta, and the Arctic.

“These days, we often hear there is no appetite for in-depth and longform journalism, especially about difficult topics like the environment,” said Carol Linnitt, The Narwhal’s executive editor. “But our audience and our members prove that wrong. Everyday people are actually the unsung heroes behind these awards and nominations.”

Go here to catch up on all the award-nominated work.

 
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We’re looking for pitches!


We want to share compelling, deeply reported and timely stories about Indigenous-led efforts to protect and preserve lands and waters. Your pitch can be focused on Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), Guardian programs or any conservation stories you think need to be told. We’re especially interested in hearing pitches from Indigenous reporters, photojournalists and storytellers. Ideally, these stories will be 2,000-4,000 words and published between July and December 2023. We recommend reading some of our recent coverage to get a sense of what we’ve covered, and the kind of stories we’re looking for!

Please submit pitches by May 14 to michelle@thenarwhal.ca with “Indigenous-led conservation pitch” in the subject line. Pitches should include a brief bio, a short summary of your idea, a rough budget if travel is involved and links to your portfolio or 1-2 samples of recent work.

Know someone who might have a few ideas? Send them this newsletter and spread the word!

 

This week in The Narwhal

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Decades after the province vowed to phase out logging in Manitoba’s provincial parks, a recent audit finds Duck Mountain Provincial Park’s old forests are still being ravaged — and oversight is nowhere to be found.

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Carl and Rianna waiting to hear back from MPs who don’t want to talk about their investments. Tell your friends to sign up for our newsletter so they can make bonds with us — and appreciate our reporting.
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The Narwhal’s reporters uncover energy stories that send shockwaves throughout Canada. But they can’t do it alone — we still need to add 120 new members this month to meet our budget. Will you support crucial climate reporting that makes an impact?
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The Narwhal’s reporters uncover energy stories that send shockwaves throughout Canada. But they can’t do it alone — we still need to add 120 new members this month to meet our budget. Will you support crucial climate reporting that makes an impact?