Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, centre, addresses attendees at a press conference to announce the launch of the Canadian Energy Centre at SAIT in Calgary, Alberta Wednesday, December 11, 2019. Energy Minister Sonya Savage (left) and Tom Olsen, Managing Director of the Canadian Energy Centre, look on. Kenney has officially opened the province’s energy war room to fight what he calls a campaign of lies about the province’s energy industry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Fulmes

Alberta premier opens war room to promote ‘truth’ about energy industry

Effort includes a $2.5-million public inquiry into foreign funding of anti-oil advocacy groups

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the province’s so-called war room will be respectful while fighting what he says is a foreign-funded campaign of lies to landlock the province’s resources.

Kenney officially opened the new $30-million Canadian Energy Centre on Tuesday in Calgary. The centre is to have a research unit, an energy literacy unit and a rapid response team to challenge misinformation.

“We were not doing nearly enough to tell the truth in response to a campaign of lies, of defamation and disinformation based on torked, dated and incomplete and out of context attacks on our energy sector,” Kenney told reporters.

Kenney promised to set up the war room as part of his provincial election campaign leading to the United Conservative Party’s win in April.

It’s part of a multi-pronged approach that also includes a $2.5-million public inquiry into foreign funding of anti-oil advocacy groups.

Human rights group Amnesty International Canada has warned that the war room and public inquiry threaten freedom of expression and association.

Legal advocacy group Ecojustice has filed a court challenge citing similar concerns.

“Nobody is proposing to trample on anybody’s free speech,” Kenney said Tuesday.

“If there are organizations that use their free speech to put misinformation into the public square we will respond. That’s not attacking freedom of speech. It’s responding to the content of the speech. That’s called public discourse.”

He said the centre will react with ”respect, civility and professionalism.”

VIDEO: Kenney lays out key demands for meeting with Trudeau

Managing director, Tom Olsen, described the centre as “part new media organization, part think tank, research hub.”

It will create a new engery narrative through advertising and social media, he said. He didn’t know yet if that might mean staff will reach out directly to people who they believe are spreading lies.

“We will push back. Where falsehoods are spread, we will respond,” he said.

Duncan Kenyon, Alberta regional director of the environmental think tank the Pembina Institute, said he laments the government’s singular focus on fighting fossil fuel foes when everyone should be working together on tackling climate change.

“We actually more than ever need to come together to figure out how to decarbonize and diversify our energy,” he said.

“We need to respond to where the world and the markets and the people that are going to buy this product are going.”

The Muttart Foundation, an established Edmonton charity, recenty wrote a lengthly letter disputing the notion that opposition to Alberta’s oil and gas industry is bankrolled by foreign money.

Using Canada Revenue Agency data, it found that in Alberta, 284 charities received $88.5 million from foreign sources — less than three per cent of their revenue. The University of Calgary was the top recipient, raking in 42 per cent of all foreign funding in Alberta.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Month-long water quality advisory still in effect for Rupert residents

The City of Prince Rupert recommends those with weakened immune systems boil water prior to use

Jennifer Rice North Coast MLA seeks re-election

Northwest politicians announce intent on elections

Heart of the City – Jason Scherr

Try and Try again - Prince Rupert Seamen Rugby Club

No COVID-19 public exposures in the North Health Region at this time

Northern Health Authority issued a statement on Sept. 17

Tax penalties of 10 per cent to be applied by City if not paid on time

Prince Rupert Property taxes for certain non-residential properties are due by Sept. 30

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read