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

Just Posted

Officer shot, man arrested after standoff near Argenta

The officer suffered non-life threatening injuries

PLACE NAMES: More Nelson neighbourhoods

Parklands among lost Nelson neighbourhood names

Books for Kids campaign aiming for $30,000

The fundraising is for free books and literacy programs for thousands of children

‘If we do nothing, the herd will certainly be extirpated’: Caribou maternity pen proposed in Nakusp

The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society is waiting for a response from the province

‘Unity Sailing’ presses for end to ferry dispute

Over 100 people protested the ongoing labour action

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

Most Read