Public Inquiry Into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns Commissioner Steve Allan wearing a very nice hat (Photo: Lieutenant Governor of Alberta).

I’m sorry to have to report, Alberta, that the inquiry into foreign-funded campaigns targeting Alberta’s oil and gas industry apparently hasn’t found any foreign-funded campaigns targeting Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

Don’t worry, though, they’re pretty sure that if they keep looking they can find something.

Energy Minister Sonya Savage (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

After all, everyone involved acknowledges some money crosses the border from U.S. foundations to Canadian environmental groups, all legal and properly accounted for.

So we taxpayers will give the inquiry another $1 million and four more months so Commissioner Steve Allan can continue his snipe hunt for that elusive vast foreign-funded “anti-Alberta energy campaign.

You can count on it that Mr. Allan will let us know if he turns something up, probably after Labour Day.

Don’t take my word for this. This comes straight from the lips of Energy Minister Sonya Savage to your ears, via the medium of the hard-working news release writers and meme makers in the Kenney Government’s vast pool of generously compensated press secretaries and issues managers.

The commissioner’s initial findings have shown that additional time and work is required to complete the final report,” Ms. Savage explained in a news release published at 4:30 yesterday afternoon, the last day the Legislature did any business before MLAs headed home for constituency week.

“This extension will allow the commissioner to fairly and justly complete the inquiry process and follow up on the materials discovered to date,” Ms. Savage said piously. So the commissioner’s deadline will be extended from July 2 until Oct. 30, and, what’s more, he’ll get an additional million free-floating Canadian Loonies to continue his work.

Alas, where there are winners, there must also be losers, so the extra million will come out of the $30-million 2020-2021 budget of the Alberta Energy War Room. This raises the inquiry’s cost to $3.5-million.

Blogger Vivian Krause (Photo: Twitter).

This shouldn’t be a problem since the War Room hasn’t been doing much of anything since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Alberta, the idea of working from home seemingly too exotic a notion for Alberta’s War Roomers.

I’m sure that, like Ms. Savage, we are all looking forward to learning what the commissioner recommends to solve a problem that even the minister uncharacteristically admitted in her news release is so far only an allegation.

As Premier Jason Kenney and Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer both said yesterday on a completely different topic, you can’t make this stuff up.

Well, actually, come to think of it, you can. Perhaps that’s the problem Mr. Allan encountered when he set out to look into the supposed conspiracy to benefit the U.S. oil industry at Alberta’s expense that Mr. Kenney has fulminated about since entering provincial politics. The likely problem: There’s so little evidence of it.

Or maybe the commissioner just needs to question some witnesses, something, oddly, the inquiry doesn’t seem to have gotten around to yet.

It’s not at all clear what Commissioner Allan has been up to since the inquiry was called in July last year. At times, indeed, it’s been as if he were missing in action.

Energy journalist Markham Hislop (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Probably he’s been reading over old Vivian Krause blog posts and begging the minister’s office for some direction on what he should do if he can’t find anything worth reporting on. Well, at least he’s got some direction now: Look harder!

Ms. Krause is the controversial B.C. blogger known for attacking the credibility of, as the Narwhal described it, “environmental groups advocating for forest conservation, First Nations rights, climate action and democratic participation in natural resource development, especially the Alberta oilsands and proposed pipelines.”

Energy journalist Markham Hislop has put considerable effort into challenging her claims, views that are controversial enough her role with the inquiry rates its own section on its FAQ page:

The Inquiry is examining and exploring a variety of sources to gather relevant information and evidence, and the prior work of Vivian Krause is one such potential source,” it says. “Importantly, the Commissioner is approaching the Inquiry Mandate with an indepedent (sic) and open mind and will subject all available information and evidence gathered to objective and impartial scrutiny.

The Commissioner’s education, training and experience, as well as that of his staff and advisors, equip him and the Inquiry team to conduct a thorough, independent and impartial assessment of the relevance and value of Ms. Krause’s work, as well as any other relevant sources.”

According to Mr. Hislop, the inquiry has never spoken to anyone from Tides Canada, the Canadian environmental non-governmental organization singled out by Premier Kenney for particularly vituperative accusations it was bankrolled by U.S. foundations to finance anti-pipeline campaigns.

Indeed, there’s no evidence whatsoever that the inquiry, formally known as the “Public Inquiry Into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns,” has ever spoken with anyone from any Canadian ENGO — a group that includes Greenpeace, the Pembina Institute, Ecojustice, Dogwood and Tides Canada, now known as MakeWay.

If the commissioner gets around to actually making such inquiries, which Albertans were led last year to believe was the point of the exercise, that will presumably lend new life to court challenges of the legality of the inquiry by Ecojustice and Progress Alberta.

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  1. Kept on a roll by federal money which is as pro tarsands and pipeline as the mighty kenney, I suppose I am contributing my two cents worth towards these complete nonsense UCP inquisitions, for that is what they are. Everyone’s guilty of being anti-Alberta, unless they wave an Alberta flag and swear fealty unto his popeness Jason 1 and praise the critical infrastructure upon which his tiny feet tread.

    Somehow, despite oil being worth bugger all, the price of gas has gone up to 95.5 cents/litre from 67 two months ago here in my province. Dadgum it, those petro-boys are suffering, so give ’em a raise at consumer expense!

    I looked up tarsands companies a couple of weeks ago, and found the biggest were Canadian, not American, and that two Chinese state companies are hard at it as well. Hell, if the stupid Canadians are happy ruining their landscape, why not join in? No skin off their backs. And of course, then there’s Trudeau with his holier-than-thou stance on our impeccable justice system, where nobody ever gets a public beating for talking back at our police acting without personal consequence, just like back home. With CSIS warning that Chinese Canadians might be sending back secret info on outdoor privies and our Covid-19 research to Commie Central, we might all want to watch people we’ve known for decades. Racism? You bet. But it’s OK. It’s state-sponsored, see.

    Great country we’ve got here. Pandemic bringing advanced social change? Sure. Oh yeah. Well aware that his goings-on never get much national coverage, kenney operates his crap machine with almost total immunity from national criticism, just the way he likes it. That way he can spring his grand self upon the Canadian moo-cow public at large after the CPC digests itself into nothingness. I can see it now: The Fair Deal Party of Canada. And our current PM proves he can natter off the cuff and say nothing for a good half-hour at a stretch each day, while Scheer is oblivious of anything, and the BQ acts with typical Quebec Gallic intellectual racism.

    Excuse me while I retch.

    1. Thank you. I have corrected that. I must have been hitting the sauce last night. DJC

  2. Last fall the National Observer’s Sandy Garossino did a deep data dive into American foundations and their funding of fossil fuel activism around the world. Some highlights.

    Since 2009 over 100,000 charitable foundations and non-governmental funders have granted some $700 billion to organizations worldwide. About 1,800 private foundations committed more than $4.9 billion specifically to climate initiatives. Just five foundations granted half of that figure.

    Of that nearly $5 billion, American-based recipients received an overwhelming $2.9 billion — or 59 per cent — of all climate grants. Almost $2 billion was divided between the European Union, China and India.

    Only $51 million went to Canadian climate projects, of which roughly $40 million was granted to dozens of small organizations organized as the Tar Sands Campaign, and most of the balance went to the Montreal-based Global Campaign for Climate Action

    When you consider that Alberta is the fourth largest oil producer in the world that is an astonishingly small number. Considering that the tar sands is one of the few oil producing ventures that is actually making money these days (take a look at Texas shale oil) you almost think people are purposefully looking the other way. You almost wonder if some of these American foundations have tar sand shares. You almost think there is a conspiracy of silence going on.

  3. Since the government so easily found $1 million dollars for this farce, maybe they can find another five and undo their parks silliness.

  4. If an environmental group is a group that seeks to influence governmental policy on environmental issues, wouldn’t climate change denying groups qualify as an ‘environmental group’? If so, Mr. Allen could use his extra time to interview David Staples, Danielle Smith and a few other Alberta-based ‘journalists’ to see if they, or their employers, have received funding from the Koch brothers et al for their climate change denial pieces.

    1. Nevermind the ever-popular science boffins at the “Friends of Science”. At minimum it would be interesting to learn who funds them.

  5. The Salem witch hunt without any witches. But you know how that goes. There are ways to make a witch out of almost anyone.

    “The episode is one of Colonial America’s most notorious cases of mass hysteria. It has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, and lapses in due process.”


  6. Perhaps, more importantly, what is truly needed is a detailed flow chart of the common place quid pro quo back scratching revolving door network that defines the behind the curtain political world in Alberta, instead of, the usual adolescent PR diversions that are designed to further hypnotize and distract soft headed sycophants. As a starting point, see for example,

  7. So basically they have sat around and did nothing while collecting a government pay cheque? It is interesting that they don’t go after the international environmental groups, should be pretty easy to prove they receive foreign funding. So who is this witch hunt really aimed at if not organizations like Greenpeace?

  8. “Importantly, the Commissioner is approaching the Inquiry Mandate with an indepedent (sic) and open mind and will subject all available information and evidence gathered to objective and impartial scrutiny.”
    I thought we Easterners were the sole purveyors of bafflegab, double talk and Carolina cow patties.

  9. Yes, the translation from government PR spin into English is something like, “we haven’t found much so we need to keep looking”. This does seem to be a government that is perhaps too sure of its opinions and often works hard to find the facts to fit them and just dismisses or ignores those that don’t.

    At least the good news is this money comes from the war room budget – the other UCP brainchild that is at least an ineffective or perhaps even more so than this investigation. Although, if they wanted to reallocate money, they could have taken money from the war room budget and put it into an investigation by the Election commissioners leadership campaign finance investigation. That would have be more useful, but strangely the UCP doesn’t seem eager to investigate that. I suspect they are quite afraid what sort of facts might be uncovered there.

    I think Mr. Kenney is probably now starting to realize the inherent flaw of using conspiracy theories for political gain. In the end, the evidence is elusive. However, he is a clever politician, I suspect he will find some way to emerge out of this self created rabbit hole without too much embarrassment, but I suspect at this point he needs to buy himself a bit more time to try figure it out.

  10. Golly! Piece a work, these UCPartiers. No surprise: when the black-stetson invaders of Bytown, notables not originally from Alberta, BTW, drove their roasted rumps back to the Wild Rose province and slammed the firewall gate behind them, the orange-glinting longhorn belt buckles reflected a conflagration they aimed to corral in, not shut out. There was things needed puttin’ to rights after they’d licked their salty blocks a while, re-shod and pastured their steeds, and loaded up for a high-noon future.

    Things hadn’t been going right since they’d left, a half-score years ago or so, and, after fording the Red, returned to find Big Slim Prentice heading one of two camps of wranglers fixing to square off on the broad wagon trail from which women and children had already been rustled under cover. As a mournful mouth organ bent reeds in the distance, a wind so ill blew tumbleweeds from the wilder bunch into tin-star deputization under the venerable reeve of the prairie shire; a crack was heard over the wiser acres of the grassy prairie, post-hitched horses restlessly stomped the dusty ground when, suddenly, a gang of pink-stetsoned riders, their hoodies emblazoned with what looked like general relativity math equations rode smartly from around back of the livery stables, stayed their cycles and brought the hammer down. It wasn’t so hard, after all, to see it was exactly high noon. Sharp.

    After shootin’ up the capital for nigh-on ten year, the black stetsons knew what to do: round up their scattered, pipeline-raging cowboys and reform a posse, just like Stephen “Tex” Harper n Preston “Watch-chain” Manning done back in the good ole days, hollerin’ “YOU-nat the rat!”) in the accent Harper picked up while soliciting Manifest Destiny state-side.

    The fact that a woman, Rachel “sixgun” Notley, had beat Slim on the draw was only slightly more intolerable than her gang of socialists—com’nists, really—oughtta put some lead back into, and stiffen, their posse’s limping ponies. So the boss, seeing how the sheriff got his head blowed clean off— that very nat— dove into the smokin’ hole, pheromone-whistled for his boys, drove out the queenless bees, refilled the hollowed corps with angry hornets —and, most important, popped his head back out, this time wearing a white stetson, shrieking, “Rachel, y’all got a date with the undertaker!” She was too busy shooting it out with JT and John Horgan with one hand while fighting wildfire with the other to pay it much mind.

    But these UCP hombres weren’t no Southern gentlemen, nor no lilly-livered, fancy, Eastern college edj’cated, tweed n leather elbow-patched eggheads—nope, they’s mean-eyed, open-carry gun slingers hitched up with full-patched, leather jacketed hoods loaded for imm’grants n ’vir’mentalists n homie-sexuals—the kind of reprobates about whom our mother used to say: “just ignore them, dear,” and remind that when we’d become doctors and lawyers, they’d still be clowning for rodeos, laughing at funny looking visitors, and spending their drunken nights repairing harnesses and spade-bits (none of ever us earned such degrees, but my sister would still call them “so immature!” or some other colloquialism of our foofy home province).

    Partisan rhetoric has hardened, alright, but the new UCP not only tore down parliamentary decorum—the wreck of the Edmonton Fist-Herald, as ‘t were—as surely as the federal Harper gang had in the Commons— but went some beyond. On the hustings the language would have made Socred’s Father Ernest blush and, in the presence of a lady, yet—albeit one who prayed an the alter of the left while dealing with fundamental free-market petro-price decline and brimstone-like incineration of the bitumen mines’ MacFortress—would have made “Bible Bill” Aberhart faint. The vitriolic colic seemed excessive aimed at a woman whose party had garnered a popular vote superior to any won by the Harper gang during its entire decade of saloon card-sharking in Ottawa. And, considering the Honourable Notley managed, in eventual electoral defeat, to hole-up in a substantially sizeable parliamentary redoubt of Loyal Opposition from which recuperation might sally forth again, it’s remarkable that the UCP—which won a convincing majority of the pop-vote—continues to display such spitefully poor sportsmanship, lamenting, it would appear, that the secret ballot makes rounding up whoever had the temerity to vote for her socialists much too difficult. (Perhaps a “war-room”-style snitch-line will be established—kinda like the ambitious Hornby Island RCMP constable who, accompanied by Elmer the Safety Elephant, asked first graders who had a cat at home to raise their hands, then who had a dog, then whose parents smoked pot—wary teachers intervening at this point, and eventually arranging for the cop’s reprimand and transfer under complaint. Reminded me of Notley’s government shit-canning the official Conservative regulation that required teachers to inform parents if apprised of any student associated with after-school, student-organized gay-straight alliances. In this case it was the NDP who wore the white hats when relieving teachers besieged by religious-right homophobes.)

    No one begrudges celebration when a party wins power, especially if the victor acknowledges the same concerns and commitment the vanquished has in serving their citizens and comrades. But the UCP is displaying too much chuff in the settling chaff of a dying industry, too much swagger for a government so swaddled in fundamental economic difficulties, too much hubris in crony-awarding well-paid public positions in secretive, unaccountable orgs like the “war-room”—and way too much hatred towards our Prime Minister for, of all things, negotiating parliamentary confidence for his minority government, an odious sentiment that goes so far as to threaten Alberta’s secession, as preposterous in reality as it is disturbing in ulterior motive. Perhaps with three years yet to go, the UCP will doff their white hats at some point of contrition and walk all of this negativity back. But, jeez, with an imperious little prick acting like no adults will ever check on the kids in the school yard, it’s a question. One has to be reminded that threatening to take the bat and ball away is something more associated with sore losers—and these guys actually won the last election HST a year ago. Perhaps the strategy is to threaten Albertans with how bad they’d be if they lost! Golly…

    My sister would most probably say: it’s so immature!

    But we’re both foofs (Fine-Old-Ontario-Family) who, along with our old mother, now live in BC (which I used to think had the craziest politics in Canada). It’s just so hard to look away because we’ve both lived and worked in Alberta, still love that beautiful province and the friends we have there.

    Good luck, my friends and, as we say in COVID19 BC: be kind.

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