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

Hazardous black ice coats Greater Victoria streets

Drivers, cyclists, pedestrians warned to be cautious

Victoria byelection scheduled for April 4

The byelection will replace former Coun. Laurel Collins

Saanich councillor feels new Walmart at Hillside a step in the wrong direction

‘We’ll all fail our climate goals if we don’t make radical changes to land use,’ says the councillor

Tell Me A Story returns to Oak Bay

Family Literacy Week starts Jan. 27

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

POLL: Has the recent snow had an impact on your daily life?

Old Man Winter had Greater Victoria in his icy grip this week.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Sub-zero B.C. weather freezes clothing in just 45 minutes

A local photographer decided to have some fun with the frosty weather before its gone

VIDEO: Missing cat reunited with Vancouver Island family after three months

‘It was like one day she was there, the next day she was gone,’ said owner

Most Read