Scared Scott Moe
Scared Scott Moe This article is more than 5 months old
News

Scott Moe, oil industry stoked ‘fear and anger’ over climate motion, Regina councillors say

Moe threatened to cut $33 million in crown funding from the city

Regina city councillors say Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe stoked “fear and anger” towards them over a motion banning oil companies from sponsoring public buildings, according to a new Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report.

The report, Big Oil in City Hall: Climate and Energy Politics in the Queen City, interviewed several city councillors and obtained emails that showed the scope of the campaign – led by conservative politicians and the oil industry – to block the motion from passing in January 2021.

Simon Enoch, director of the CCPA Saskatchewan office, says documenting the backlash against this motion may help predict how future conflicts over more ambitious climate policies might play out.

“We really need the public to recognize climate change as a political problem,” Enoch told PressProgress. “There are political actors that have an awful lot of economic, political and cultural power, that are trying to prevent us from getting to where we need to be – or at least slowing us down, which is, at the end of the day, probably the same result.”

The first draft of the Regina council’s sponsorship policy restricted several industries from public naming rights, including alcohol, tobacco, weapons and cannabis. Ward 6 Councillor Dan LeBlanc put forward an amendment to include the fossil fuel industry, in order to align with the city’s plan to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The motion was set to pass until Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe issued a tweet threatening to pull $33 million in Crown funding from the City of Regina if the “absurd motion” wasn’t withdrawn. 

Moe also promoted a letter campaign organized by the Regina Chamber of Commerce to pressure councillors to withdraw the motion.

Other oil advocacy groups encouraged their networks to ramp up pressure towards city councillors as well: Canada’s Energy Citizens, Canada Action, Oil Sands Action, Canadian Energy Centre, Oil Respect, Canada Growth Council and Advance Regina.  Several big Saskatchewan Party donors also opposed the motion.

LeBlanc, the councillor who introduced the fossil fuel amendment, lost his law firm job two days after the city council meeting — though whether it was connected to his ‘fossil fuel’ amendment is unconfirmed. The other councillors experienced threats and abuse over email and social media — enough so that the CCPA decided to keep councillor interviews anonymous for the report. 

Regina city councillors are part-time positions, meaning elected officials must rely on other forms of income outside of city hall. One councillor told the CCPA the possibility of losing their livelihood means they might feel pressured to ‘walk away’ from controversial positions.

“After this incident, yeah, you know what, there might be something that would come across Council I might walk away from and walk away from a position from rather than give up everything I’ve ever worked for. I’d like to think that there wouldn’t be but I didn’t come into [this job rich]… I still have responsibilities, you know.” 

“It sets a dangerous precedent that there wasn’t more of a backlash or more of public anger about that – that we just allow our politicians, our elected representatives, to be bullied like that,” Enoch said.

“One of the more troubling consequences that may be the fallout from this whole event, is that our city council becomes gun shy on advancing those more aggressive climate policies – and if that becomes the case, then the oil industry has won.”

Not all the feedback councillors received was instigated by the industry, however. Many Regina residents supported climate action, but told councillors they believed the motion itself was too “divisive.”

Enoch says this is why it is important to outline the powerful politicians and industry players who instigated such ‘divisiveness.’ He points out the oil industry has “long documented historical complicity in denying climate change, delaying climate action, and, or diluting climate action.”

“I think we’re gonna see those kinds of conflicts flare up, and we’re gonna see the kind of campaigns proliferate in Western Canada, in cities. This is really a first look at what the future will be like for politics and climate change,” Enoch adds.

Multiple city councillors said there needs to be more public organizing to defend future climate initiatives from “the predictable right-wing response.”

“I think that the majority of council will support environmental initiatives,” one councillor said. “So it’s a matter of making sure that we prepare properly, we get lots of public support, as much as public support is possible, that we’re strategic, that we bring the right people to speak to council on the issues.”

Another councillor agreed: ” I think that could have made a difference here.”

PressProgress is powered by readers. Not by advertisers.

We’re not a corporate media outlet. We’re a small non-profit news organization that produces award-winning journalism with support from our readers.

If you see value in ad-free, non-profit journalism that holds powerful interests accountable, please consider making an investment in our work today.

 

Invest in Our Journalism
PressProgress
PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

Most Shared

thumb-2022-05-015 News

Doug Ford’s Budget Includes a Hidden $1.3 Billion ‘Decrease’ in Education Funding

Related Stories

News

Several Hundred Jobs for Ontario Education Workers Are Set to Be Eliminated After the Election

View the post
News

Ministry of Colleges Shut Down Ontario PC Candidate’s Private College After It Ran Unaccredited Program

View the post
News

Anti-Union Lobby Group Has Received Millions of Dollars From Doug Ford’s Government Since 2021

View the post

Explainers

Human rights & inclusion

Amira Elghawaby

Here’s The Problem With Hoping Corporations Will Be Socially and Environmentally Responsible On Their Own

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

The battle of the PACs in Calgary’s municipal election

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

27 Different Candidates are Vying to be Calgary’s Mayor. Here Are the Biggest Issues at Stake.

View the post
Why do newspapers always have a business section but not a labour section? We’ve launched a free newsletter covering labour issues in Canada.
Get All Your Canadian Labour News in One Place
Why do newspapers always have a business section but not a labour section? Good news! We’ve launched a newsletter covering labour issues in Canada.