Targeted groups say Premier Kenney must end the Public Inquiry after missing yet another deadline and drawn out, unconstitutional process

Monday February 01, 2021

TORONTO, ONTARIO – Commissioner Steve Allan yesterday missed a third deadline to submit a final report from the scandal-ridden Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns. Targeted groups say Premier Kenney must end the Inquiry.

The Inquiry’s original completion date was July 2020 but was pushed back until October 2020, then again to January 31, 2021. Allan missed all three deadlines, and he must now submit his final report in May 2021. Yesterday's missed deadline came just days after the Inquiry’s spokesperson denied any delay was being requested from the Alberta government.

“It’s time Premier Kenney put an end to this baseless and interminable Inquiry,” said Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “Premier Kenney’s efforts to silence those who fight for climate action are the driving force behind this Inquiry and are reminiscent of the tactics used by authoritarian regimes in less democratic countries.”

The Inquiry demonstrated its bias on January 13, 2021, when the Inquiry posted a series of reports that deny climate change and promote conspiracy theories. Allan spent $100,000 of taxpayer money commissioning these reports.

Targeted groups such as Environmental Defence, West Coast Environmental Law, Stand.earth, and others say the Inquiry is biased, undemocratic, unconstitutional and violates fundamental rules of procedural fairness and conflict of interest. The Inquiry:

  • Set up a snitch line
  • Made itself exempt from provincial Freedom of Information laws
  • Terms of Reference and Rules are biased and violate constitutionally-protected Charter protections for Freedom of Expression and Association
  • Is operating outside its authority by requesting information under federal jurisdiction, in violation of the Alberta Inquiry Act
  • Is violating basic rules of procedural fairness by not allowing witnesses, professional independent experts and cross-examination
  • Failed to give groups and individuals misrepresented in the reports it commissioned a chance to respond before they were published
  • Allowed no public hearings or open public testimony

The Inquiry’s latest postings follow what West Coast Environmental Law has referred to as an “unwarranted, politically motivated fishing expedition” last November when environmental non-profits across the country, many without operations in Alberta, received letters from the Inquiry asking for their “assistance.”

“Among other things, the Inquiry has taken aim at entirely legal fundraising and charitable activities with little nexus to Alberta,” said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law. “Commissioner Allan’s letter to our organizations consisted of error-ridden charts repackaging funding information reported to federal oversight agencies in Canada and the U.S. years ago, most of which was for work in B.C. unrelated to Alberta or the oil sands.”

Premier Kenney launched his province’s Inquiry into “foreign-funded” campaigns that he claimed were unfair to Alberta’s oil industry, even though charitable funding and international transactions are under federal jurisdiction. Federal agencies in Canada or the U.S. have not found any significant contraventions amongst the charities Kenney has targeted, despite over a dozen audits over the last few years.

“The $3.5 million Premier Kenney spent on the Inquiry so far (and the $10 million a year Canadian Energy Centre –‘War Room’) is money that could be better spent on virtually anything else that people of Alberta need during these difficult times, said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.earth. “For example, continuing to employ the 11,000 health care workers Premier Kenney laid off during the COVID crisis.”

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For more information, or to request an interview, please contact:

Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, abraude@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-356-3587

Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law, jclogg@wcel.org, 778-327-8964

Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director, Stand.earth, tzeporah@stand.earth, 604-313-4713