Environmental law group seeks to stop inquiry into who funds oil critics

Environmental law group seeks to stop inquiry into who funds oil critics

Environmental law group seeks to stop inquiry into who funds oil critics

CALGARY — An environmental law group wants a court to suspend the Alberta government’s inquiry into oil and gas industry critics until there’s a decision on whether it’s legal.

The United Conservative government contends foreign interests are bankrolling environmental opposition to Canadian fossil-fuel projects.

In June 2019, It appointed forensic accountant Steve Allan to head a public inquiry.

Ecojustice filed a lawsuit last November that alleged the inquiry is politically motivated, biased and outside provincial jurisdiction.

A hearing that had been scheduled for April was delayed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the meantime, the group is seeking an injunction in Court of Queen’s Bench that would force Allan to halt his work until there is a ruling in the lawsuit.

Allan’s report was due July 2, but the government recently extended his deadline by four months and added $1 million to the inquiry’s $2.5-million budget.

“They’re running this process in secret. They’ve added another million dollars. We believe it’s for a predetermined outcome,” Ecojustice executive director Devon Page said in an interview Monday.

“We really were left with no choice, particularly given the court delays as a result of COVID, but to bring an injunction application.”

He said the inquiry has already done harm to environmental charities by distracting them from their missions and forcing them to direct resources toward defending themselves.

“What they want to do is kind of tar and feather the environmental charities,” Page said of the United Conservative government.

“Environmental charities in Canada make their revenue from donations, the vast majority of which come from Canadians. So if Kenney could blacken their reputations, he could harm their ability to do what they do.”

Kavi Bal, a spokesman for Energy Minister Sonya Savage, said: “Ecojustice has made it clear that they oppose an inquiry into well-funded foreign campaigns that seek to discredit Alberta and its energy sector.”

The Alberta government is ”committed to protecting Canada’s largest economic subsector from attack by foreign opposition, and we will see this inquiry through to it’s completion,” he added.

Page said despite pandemic-related delays in the courts, he’s hopeful the injunction request will be considered “in a matter of weeks.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2020

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

crude oil

Just Posted

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall

114 cases in Red Deer, down one from Saturday

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday 12, 2020.

Manluk Centre/ Impress
Manluk Centre re-opens to the public

Drop in and registered programs will be available; one-third facility capacity to be followed.

File photo
Leduc RCMP request assistance to identify armed robbery suspect

Leduc RCMP are looking for male responsible for an armed robbery at Super Car and RV Wash in Leduc.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Most Read