VIDEO: Alberta to hold $2.5M inquiry into how oil and gas opponents are funded

Premier says inquiry will determine if any laws have been broken and recommend appropriate action

Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney speaks to media during the Western Premiers’ conference, in Edmonton on Thursday, June 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The Alberta government will hold a public inquiry into environmental groups that it says have been bankrolled by foreign benefactors hell-bent on keeping Canada’s oil and gas from reaching new markets while letting oil production grow unabated in the Middle East and the United States.

“They often say that sunlight is the best disinfectant. This public inquiry will be sunlight on the activities of this campaign,” Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday.

“It will investigate all of the national and international connections, follow the money trail and expose all of the interests involved.”

He said the inquiry — with a budget of $2.5-million — will find out if any laws have been broken and recommend any appropriate legal and policy action.

“Most importantly, it will serve notice that Alberta will no longer allow hostile interest groups to dictate our economic destiny as one of the most ethical major producers of energy in the world.”

READ MORE: B.C. files second legal challenge against Alberta over turn-off-taps law

Steve Allan, a forensic and restructuring accountant with more than 40 years of experience, has been named inquiry commissioner.

Allan’s ability to compel witness testimony and records is limited to Alberta.

But Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said much of the information Allan will need is publicly available and he’ll be able to travel outside Alberta to gather more.

The first phase of the inquiry is to focus on fact finding, with public hearings to follow if necessary. Allan is to deliver his final report to the government in a year.

Opposition NDP member Deron Bilous said the inquiry is the equivalent of hiring someone to do a glorified Google search.

“This is a fool’s errand,” he said. “I don’t believe this will help Alberta further its interests in accessing pipelines and expanding our market access.”

Kenney said deep-pocketed U.S. charities have been deliberately trying to landlock Alberta resources for years by funnelling money to an array of Canadian groups. Many of his assertions are based on the writings of Vancouver researcher Vivian Krause.

He blames those groups for the demise of several coast-bound pipelines that would have helped oilsands crude get to markets besides the U.S., as well as delays in building the Trans Mountain expansion to the west coast.

Krause said earlier this week that while the U.S. energy industry has benefited from anti-Canada “demarketing” campaigns, she has found no evidence commercial interests are involved.

She and Kenney both agreed it’s because Canada is an easy target.

“We’re very easy to pit against each other — Quebec, the West,” Krause said.

Kenney said Canada has been the kid in the school yard most easy to bully.

“I think they understood that this country amongst all of the major energy producers would be the most easily intimidated by this campaign,” he said. “And you know what? They were right.”

Prominent environmentalist Tzeporah Berman likened the inquiry to a “witch hunt” meant to silent dissent.

“It weakens our democracy and attempts to scare citizens from engaging in the debate on issues critical to our economy and a safe climate,” she wrote on Twitter.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Fundraising begins to bring back Mountainview Lodge bus

The bus went out of use about two years ago, isolating many seniors in the Kitimat community.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Water fights and food trucks: Kitimat residents celebrate Canada Day with sun and smiles

Celebrations still brought smiles and laughs, even if the day was a little different than usual

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read