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

COVID-19: 2020 Peach Classic Triathlon cancelled

Athletes’ inability to properly train main reason for cancelling the long-running event

Childcare service in South Okanagan to serve just essential service workers

On April 1, eight OneSky childcare centres will only be available to essential service workers

Thousands affected by Penticton power outages

Two corresponding issues have resulted in approx. 7000 without power

Summerland care facility orders reusable masks

Okanagan Valley quilters ready to produce cloth masks if needed

COLUMN: Plenty of online reading options

Libraries are closed due to COVID-19 but downloads are available through Okanagan Regional Library

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Virtual physio connects patients with Okanagan practitioners

Many local physiotherapists are ready to assist, online

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Don’t take hair into your own hands, urge Okanagan stylists

New Vernon shop expects high demand come May, since opening delayed

Most Read