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

Kimberley contingent heads to UBCM

The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) is holding its annual convention… Continue reading

Kimberley’s population tops 8,000 in latest estimates from province

The City of Kimberley’s population has reached the 8,000 person threshold, according… Continue reading

Farm life: looking dinner in the eye

I think we’ve all heard of roosters being alarm clocks. Cocka-doodle-doodling during… Continue reading

WATCH: #FridaysForFuture walkout in Kimberley

The Kimberley Youth Action Network hosted a walkout in support of climate justice.

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Most Read