Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, centre, addresses attendees at a press conference to announce the launch of the Canadian Energy Centre at SAIT in Calgary, Alberta Wednesday, December 11, 2019. Energy Minister Sonya Savage (left) and Tom Olsen, Managing Director of the Canadian Energy Centre, look on. Kenney has officially opened the province’s energy war room to fight what he calls a campaign of lies about the province’s energy industry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Fulmes

Alberta premier opens war room to promote ‘truth’ about energy industry

Effort includes a $2.5-million public inquiry into foreign funding of anti-oil advocacy groups

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the province’s so-called war room will be respectful while fighting what he says is a foreign-funded campaign of lies to landlock the province’s resources.

Kenney officially opened the new $30-million Canadian Energy Centre on Tuesday in Calgary. The centre is to have a research unit, an energy literacy unit and a rapid response team to challenge misinformation.

“We were not doing nearly enough to tell the truth in response to a campaign of lies, of defamation and disinformation based on torked, dated and incomplete and out of context attacks on our energy sector,” Kenney told reporters.

Kenney promised to set up the war room as part of his provincial election campaign leading to the United Conservative Party’s win in April.

It’s part of a multi-pronged approach that also includes a $2.5-million public inquiry into foreign funding of anti-oil advocacy groups.

Human rights group Amnesty International Canada has warned that the war room and public inquiry threaten freedom of expression and association.

Legal advocacy group Ecojustice has filed a court challenge citing similar concerns.

“Nobody is proposing to trample on anybody’s free speech,” Kenney said Tuesday.

“If there are organizations that use their free speech to put misinformation into the public square we will respond. That’s not attacking freedom of speech. It’s responding to the content of the speech. That’s called public discourse.”

He said the centre will react with ”respect, civility and professionalism.”

VIDEO: Kenney lays out key demands for meeting with Trudeau

Managing director, Tom Olsen, described the centre as “part new media organization, part think tank, research hub.”

It will create a new engery narrative through advertising and social media, he said. He didn’t know yet if that might mean staff will reach out directly to people who they believe are spreading lies.

“We will push back. Where falsehoods are spread, we will respond,” he said.

Duncan Kenyon, Alberta regional director of the environmental think tank the Pembina Institute, said he laments the government’s singular focus on fighting fossil fuel foes when everyone should be working together on tackling climate change.

“We actually more than ever need to come together to figure out how to decarbonize and diversify our energy,” he said.

“We need to respond to where the world and the markets and the people that are going to buy this product are going.”

The Muttart Foundation, an established Edmonton charity, recenty wrote a lengthly letter disputing the notion that opposition to Alberta’s oil and gas industry is bankrolled by foreign money.

Using Canada Revenue Agency data, it found that in Alberta, 284 charities received $88.5 million from foreign sources — less than three per cent of their revenue. The University of Calgary was the top recipient, raking in 42 per cent of all foreign funding in Alberta.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP visits Wet’suwet’en camps, calls for Coastal GasLink pipeline to be ‘revisited’

Paul Manly met with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the RCMP to talk about the ongoing situation

BREAKING: LSS evacuated after reports of ‘gas smell’

Students were evacuated to Frank Jameson Community Centre, but have since returned to class

Ladysmith Art Council announces new Poet in Residence

John Edwards will serve as the inaugural Poet in Residence

‘Snowmaggedon 2020’ has passed, but 20-30 milimetres of rain expected Friday

Residents should brace for rain and clear drains to prevent localized flooding

What happens in the Cowichan Valley when an earthquake strikes

When an earthquake does happen, will the Cowichan Valley be ready for it?

Anti-pipeline protests in support of Wet’suwet’en continue at B.C. government buildings

‘We are unarmed, they have guns,’ protesters chanted on Wednesday morning

Theo the 800-pound pig trimmed down and still looking for love on Vancouver Island

“He’s doing really well, lost quite a few pounds and can run now.”

Horgan unveils B.C. cabinet shuffle changes

Premier John Horgan has made three major changes to his cabinet

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

B.C.’s first ride-hailing app to launch in Tofino, Whistler in February

The Whistle! app will be available in Tofino on Feb.1 and in Whistler Feb. 6.

Councillor resigns in Revelstoke after colleagues approved 67% raise

Council approved a 134 per cent raise for the mayor of Revelstoke

Rolled-over dairy truck in Abbotsford lost 40,000 litres of milk

Truck removed Sunday, Jan. 19, with specialized equipment to upright vehicle

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

Most Read