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

Just Posted

Nearly 20 individuals accessed LRCA’s cold weather shelter during 2020 snowstorm

Most individuals accessed the shelter for food, showers, laundry, and to warm up

Shoot the Moon pub passes public hearing stage

Rod Alsop and Jon Ludtke’s proposed pub is one step closer after a packed public hearing

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

Successful end to search for kayakers along the Chemainus River

Father and son located tired and cold, but otherwise OK

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read