Alberta Politics
Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan (Photo: Lieutenant Governor of Alberta).

‘Public’ inquiry into ‘anti-Alberta’ campaigns descends into fiasco with request for third extension, apparently posted in error

Posted on January 16, 2021, 6:47 pm
5 mins

Having just been busted for commissioning three reports that an expert critic dismissed as “textbook examples of climate change denialism,” the commissioner of the so-called Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns now appears to be seeking a third extension of time before delivering his final report. 

Commissioner Steve Allan’s request for the time extension was spotted deep in the FAQ section of the inquiry’s website by numerous people early this morning.

Inquiry spokesperson Alan Boras (Photo: University of Lethbridge).

“Given delays caused by COVID-19 and the time necessary to implement a procedure that is fair, prior to finalizing the final report, the Commissioner has advised the Minister of Energy that the final report will not be completed by January 31, 2021,” it stated. 

“The Commissioner expects to request an extension of time from the Minister of Energy, as he is entitled to do under the Terms of Reference,” the statement also said. “However, the Commissioner wishes to wait until he is reasonably certain as to the time required to complete the process, before formally making a request of the Minister to amend the date for submitting a final report.”

Then it disappeared. 

By mid-afternoon today, the statement had been removed from the inquiry website, although it was still showing up in Google search summaries. 

Inquiry spokesperson Alan Boras told various reporters today it was posted in error. However, he also told a CBC Calgary journalist that even though the deadline is still Jan. 31 that doesn’t mean the inquiry will be completing its report on time.

The inquiry, which originally had a budget of $2.5 million, was supposed to report at the end of July 2020. However, Mr. Allan sought and got an extension until Oct. 30 and a $1-million budget boost last June, and a second extension to Jan. 31, 2021, when he couldn’t meet that one. 

It’s not clear how COVID-19 makes it harder to research, read, summarize and comment upon reports, all of which are obviously available in digital format. Presumably that’s how Mr. Allan has been doing his work during his recent, and controversial, sojourn in Palm Springs, Calif. 

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

Perhaps Mr. Allan got a call from the minister of energy’s office telling him to forget about the extension. 

Energy Minister Sonya Savage said in a statement on Thursday that she had not received a request for another extension, and still expected the report by the end of this month. Although, what she could do if the inquiry can’t meet its latest deadline is an interesting question. 

Or maybe Mr. Allan reconsidered and concluded it might be wise to ask the minister for the extension first, before making a public statement, even one buried deep in the middle of the inquiry’s FAQ page. 

Who knows? Notwithstanding the important role Premier Jason Kenney’s promises of a public inquiry to humiliate the alleged foreign funders of “anti-energy” campaigns in Alberta played in electing his United Conservative Party Government in 2019, the conduct of the inquiry by Mr. Allan has been a fiasco from the get-go, and is now degenerating into a complete gong show. 

Since the supposedly public inquiry has been conducted almost entirely behind closed doors, it wasn’t until Thursday when University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski revealed the contents of materials he’d been sent by the inquiry to review in a blog that we began to get a real sense of how amateurish the deliberations have been. 

It’s hard to imagine that things are going to get any better if the inquiry’s report is ever released. 

14 Comments to: ‘Public’ inquiry into ‘anti-Alberta’ campaigns descends into fiasco with request for third extension, apparently posted in error

  1. Just Me

    January 16th, 2021

    The Angry Midget’s tendencies to favour boondoggles and bafflegabs of every description is welcome news to those UCP hacks who want to push their faces that much further into the trough.

    It’s come to the point that Kenney really doesn’t care what anyone thinks now. Sure, he threw tantrums and tossed two of his idiot minions; but it’s beginning to look more and more like Kenney is impotent in controlled his flock. This maybe because he has encouraged and rewarded this behaviour since day one. Now that the UCP is being hung on their own petard, Kenney is pretending to be the responsible leader — for now — until the cost is clear and another distraction can be dropped.

    Let’s see if Alberta has learned from its many, many mistakes.

    Reply
  2. Dave

    January 17th, 2021

    In some games – three strikes and you are out. Usually, you get less than three in politics and this inquiry is definetly very political. Perhaps the only thing that saved Mr. Allan so far was he was generally well regarded by Conservatives and the embarrassment of admitting this fishing expedition came up with nothing much, was more than the embarrassment of an extension and a second extension. Also, COVID does make for a half decent excuse, but you can only go to the well with that one for so long before credibility runs dry.

    Perhaps, Mr. Allan might get another extension. After all, the UCP has had a terrible few weeks and might just want a break from embarrassment. However, there is also an argument for getting all the bad stuff done with as soon as possible, so they can try move on. Also the big boss, Mr. Kenney, does not seem in a good mood lately, you know booting MLA’s and Cabinet Ministers, so probably really not a good time to ask for another extension, don’t you think? Although perhaps his immediate boss Ms. Savage might be in a bit better mood. At least she had a bit of a break over the holidays and was able to get out of Alberta and come back and still keep her job … so far.

    You have to wonder what is behind Mr. Allan’s approach here. Perhaps it is just a premature posting, but I wonder if he had a sense if he asked for an extension privately, the answer might be no, so he decided to try a more public route and just go for broke. Probably not very politically astute, but Mr. Allan isn’t an elected person and whatever regard he was held in by some in the Calgary business community doesn’t mean he is politically that sharp.

    If anything, I think the premature posting might mean this Elmer Fudd has shot himself in the foot pretty good this time, so his project of chasing down rabbit holes might be finally coming to an end.

    Reply
  3. Public Servant

    January 17th, 2021

    I wonder if Mr. Allan is claiming expenses while golfing in Palm Springs.

    Reply
    • Neil Lore

      January 18th, 2021

      This whole *government* is starting to resemble a grift with a capital G.

      Reply
  4. Doug Barrett

    January 17th, 2021

    Proof reader note, only : )

    By mid-afternoon today, the statement *had* been removed from the inquiry website, although it was still showing up in Google search summaries.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 18th, 2021

      Many thanks. It’s fixed. DJC

      Reply
  5. karl roth

    January 18th, 2021

    siGh

    so much researching, so much insidious, subversive marxist ideology to counter
    such a difficult job when the darn facts don’t line up !

    wanna bet most UCP supporters will continue to blithely carry on believing important fact finding is being done regardless ?

    Reply
    • Mike in Edmonton

      January 19th, 2021

      No bet, my friend. It’s as sure as tomorrow’s sunrise. That’s if they even CARE about fact-finding, since they already know The Truth anyway.

      Reply
  6. Neil Lore

    January 18th, 2021

    This report was a piece of bad faith nonsense from day one that has steadily grown more expensive, ineffective, and obviously corrupt with each successive news appearance.

    Just like the UCP party!

    Reply
  7. Mike in Edmonton

    January 19th, 2021

    Kenney and the UCP were swept into office on a tidal wave of angst and hysteria, after Notley failed to work miracles and restore the Good Ol’ Days for the Good Ol’ Boys. Let’s be fair–the anti-Notley voters have a LOT to worry over. Layoffs have a way of concentrating the mind. When your job defines who you are, losing your job is shattering. Notley couldn’t fix that, so she lost the election.

    But Jason can’t fix it either! Blaming “the Other” might get you elected, but when you can’t make the Other back off or pay up–what then? Jason’s loyal fanboys have to make a choice. Admit they were wrong, and evil foreigners did NOT destroy the oilpatch–or double down and keep blaming someone–ANYONE–else but ourselves.

    This latest bozo eruption should convince anyone willing to think that Jason doesn’t have any answers. But that’s the problem–how many UCP supporters are willing to think? For all our sakes, I hope the answer is “Most.”

    Jason Kenney promised to fix Alberta’s oil industry. He’s made it worse. Over to you, UCP base….

    Reply

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