Jason Kenney’s Anti-Alberta Inquiry Has Already Missed Four Deadlines. Environmental Groups Say The Inquiry Still Hasn’t Talked to Them.
“He hasn’t talked to any ENGO’s that I’m aware of”
Now in the third year of its original 12-month mandate, Jason Kenney’s public inquiry into foreign funded anti-Alberta Energy campaigns has been granted its fourth deadline extension — and it appears likely it might soon need a fifth. .
This week, Kenney’s government confirmed the $3.5 million dollar investigation, which has yet to produce anything, will no longer have to submit its final report on May 31. The Inquiry now has an extra two months to wrap things up with its fourth deadline extension moved to July 31.
But if Inquiry commissioner Steve Allan plans to make his latest deadline, he might need to get cracking and get cracking fast.
Several major environmental groups previously named by the Inquiry confirm to PressProgress that the inquiry hasn’t even attempted to interview them.
Keith Stewart, Senior Energy Strategist for Greenpeace Canada said the inquiry has not communicated with them beyond a September 2020 invitation to stand as a participant and “provide perspective.”
In fact, Stewart pointed out that his organization proactively reached out to Allan’s Inquiry multiple times and received no response.
“We’ve never had contact with them,” Stewart told PressProgress.
“Our lawyer has written to them three times to say ‘we expect you to follow due process.’ We’ve received an acknowledgement of receipt but never a response.”
“We said you haven’t talked to us, so you can’t name us, basically. We said you mentioned us 72 times but you never talked to us and some of the stuff is wrong. Please respond. They never did,” Stewart explained..
“There is nothing on the public record. Nothing. There have been no hearings. No evidence entered into the record. He hasn’t talked to any ENGOs that im aware of.”
The anti-Alberta Inquiry was a major campaign promise by the UCP during the election. Allan’s original mandate was to “inquire into anti-Alberta energy campaigns that are supported, in whole or in part, by foreign organizations.”
Another organization invited by the Inquiry to participate last September was the Pembina Institute, an Alberta non-profit focused on energy transition.
“We responded we’d have to make sure we were fairly treated and we did not get any response to that. We’ve had no correspondence from the inquiry asking for info on our work,” Pembina Executive Director Simon Dyer told PressProgress.
“There’s a certain irony to some of this. The Inquiry is damaging Alberta’s reputation. We’re very proud of the work we’ve done in the oil sands.”
Likewise, Environmental Defense said it has had no communications with Allan’s Inquiry but said it wants an opportunity to respond to any allegations about its work.
“The Inquiry invited us to provide commentary in a letter last year. We did not reply,” Executive Director Tim Gray told PressProgress.. “We expected to be involved and we expect to be notified if the Inquiry intends to say anything negative about our organization.”
Ecojustice, an Alberta charity focused on environmental law, received the same September invite to participate, but declined over concerns about “procedural fairness.” Having been named by Premier Kenney publicly prior to the inquiry’s creation, Ecojustice lawyer Barry Robinson said the organization feels like it has a “target” on its back.
Robinson said Ecojustice sent six letters to the Inquiry between September 2019 and March 2020 requesting information and decisions from Commissioner Allan, including a decision on bias.
“Ecojustice either received no response to these requests or a limited response that the requests were ‘premature’”, Robinson told PressProgress.
“In September 2020, Ecojustice received an invitation from Commissioner Allan to apply for standing as a ‘Participant for Commentary’. Ecojustice chose not to respond to that invitation on the basis that the Inquiry was not a legitimate public inquiry.”
Climate Justice Edmonton, another organization repeatedly singled out by Kenney said it has had “no contact whatsoever” with Allan or the inquiry.
“I suppose we thought they might give us a call since UCP staffers (e.g. Matt Wolf) have targeted and harassed our organizers in the past,” CJE Organizer Alison McIntosh told PressProgress. “However, since we are not a charitable organization, we didn’t know what to expect. To the best of our knowledge, the inquiry has yet to get in contact with anyone.”
“I don’t think we will ever see this report. Perhaps a FOIP request under a future administration will show us that this was all a grift from the start.”
Dogwood BC Energy and Democracy Advisor Kai Nagata also questions the Inquiry’s legitimacy.
“I received one email from the inquiry into un-Albertan activities on Friday, September 25 2020,” Nagata told PressProgress. “Attached was a form letter inviting Dogwood to apply for standing as a participant. We were not interested, so I did not reply.”
“I think Commissioner Steve Allan has a pretty sweet job. He gets to hang out in Palm Springs on the taxpayer dime,” Nagata added. “ “So far he hasn’t had to produce a lot of actual work.”
“If he keeps extending the deadline, he could keep this up forever.”
Alan Boras, the Inquiry’s spokesman, rejects suggestions levelled by some critics that the Inquiry is operating like a “slush fund,” noting that the Inquiry’s expenditures are defined in the terms of reference.
“The Inquiry has made no findings to date as the Engagement Process continues and the Inquiry is not complete,” Boras told PressProgress.
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