Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is being sued personally for defamation by five Canadian environmental non-governmental organizations (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

After giving Jason Kenney more than two months to apologize for or retract his claims they spread false information about Alberta’s fossil fuel industry, five environmental groups followed through yesterday on their threat to sue Alberta’s premier and the provincial government for defamation.

In a statement of claim filed with Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton, the five organizations allege Mr. Kenney personally deliberately misrepresented the findings of the report of the so-called “Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns” to defame them.

Environmental Defence Canada Executive Director Tim Gray (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“Our goals are to seek an apology and retraction of the untrue statements made by the Alberta Government and Mr. Kenney about our organizations, which undermine our ability to educate Canadians about the risks and solutions to the climate crisis,” Environmental Defence Canada Executive Director Tim Gray said today.

“All we asked for was a correction and an apology, but Premier Kenney refuses to retract the false statements he made and apologize for lying about the results of the Alberta Inquiry,” Mr. Gray said.

This will probably do no harm to Premier Kenney in the short term – United Conservative Party members may well reward him for fighting with environmental groups when his leadership review takes place in April.

In the longer term, though, the suit has the potential to reveal in testimony some interesting details of what the UCP was up to when it plotted its strategy to go after environmental non-governmental organizations critical of oilsands development early in the Kenney Government’s mandate.

Suing a government for defamation is unusual. Nevertheless, the Alberta Proceedings Against the Crown Act states that “the Crown is subject to all those liabilities in tort to which, if it were a person of full age and capacity, it would be subject.” Interestingly, in the United States, no judicial remedy exists when a federal official defames someone.

Mr. Gray said he thinks it unlikely the environmental NGOs would drop their lawsuit in the months ahead even if Mr. Kenney were to leave office. That would not “change the nature of the resolution that we are seeking,” he said.

Tzeporah Berman, international program director of Stand.earth and a frequent target of Mr. Kenney’s commentary (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The five plaintiffs are West Coast Environmental Law, Dogwood Initiative, Stand.earth, Environmental Defence Canada, and the Wilderness Committee.

Over a two-year period, the ENGOs said in a news release today, “groups and individuals were named publicly and targeted on social media, causing some individuals to receive death threats. At a 2019 press conference where Premier Kenney discussed the Alberta Energy War Room, a poster of one of the plaintiffs, Tzeporah Berman, international program director at Stand.earth, covered with a red circle and slash, was displayed at a government press conference without condemnation.”

The organizations are seeking $15,000 each in actual damages and $500,000 in punitive damages from Mr. Kenney, “to dissuade him and other Canadian public officials from using the power of their office to bully their critics.”

Mr. Kenney has not yet filed a statement of defence. No court date has been set.

CORRECTION: The five plaintiffs in the case are West Coast Environmental Law, Dogwood Initiative, Stand.earth, Environmental Defence Canada, and the Wilderness Committee. An out-of-date list listing some addtional ENGOs’ names was published in the original version of this story. AlbertaPolitics.ca regrets the error.

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5 Comments

  1. Should damages be awarded against Kenney could we expect, as was the case of his pal Stockwell Day, that Alberta taxpayers will be making involuntary contributions?

  2. Some weeks ago, the UCP’s favorite Twitter troll (Other than Matt Wolf and for a lot less) Brett Wilson pledged to not only pay for the defense of Jason Kenney’s action against the obviously foreign-funded enviro-terrorists, he will win with his top-flight lawyers. Judging by what is known about how this is going, Wilson didn’t appear to come through. Oh, well.

    In another development, and in regard to the FreeDUMB Convoy’s definable hostage-taking of the City of Ottawa, Wilson shrugs his shoulders and blames PMJT for not heeding the people’s will and he will reap the whirlwind. Another, oh well.

    It seems that those who drive trucks, break the public health measures, whine and complain about vaccines and masks, block highways, assault the police, and make extreme nuisances of themselves will get exactly what they want. But no one else better try this, unless they’re white and vote CON.

    Andrew Coyne, someone who is more often than not a clear-headed spokesperson for conservatism, wonders what in the hell has happened to conservatives.

    Coyne mocks the CPC MPs who went out of their way to praise and encourage a gang of drunken law-breaking yobs to take Ottawa hostage and make the most ridiculous and insane demands, solely for the purpose of annoying everybody. Coyne wonders why Ottawa’s police are not cracking heads and running up the charges of these substance-addled malcontents, seizing their trucks, and driving them out of the city. Of course, the CONs are pleading for understanding and reconciliation because antivaxx lives matter. For Coyne, the CPC has turned into an irredeemable nuthouse, whose only interest is keeping this mayhem going as long as they can because they think it makes them more popular. This is the level of the lunacy that Erin O’Toole was warning everyone about when he conceded his leadership.

    The FreeDUMB meatheads have set up a camp in Confederation Park, across from Ottawa’s city hall and the NAC. They intend to slowly creep their nonsense into more neighborhoods and cause more mayhem. Ottawa Police are taking action with fines and charges for a variety of offenses, but it may be too little and too late. As far as the FreeDUMB meatheads are concerned they outnumber the police and they will fight them. If that’s the case, it’s time to give them the fight they deserve.

    It’s time to crack heads, break bodies, and herd the lot of them into lengthy incarcerations.

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

  3. Why am I not surprised by this? Don’t expect these pretend conservatives and Reformers in the UCP to respect the environment. They’ll do whatever it takes to make their corporate shill friends rich, at our expense, and at the expense of the environment. Peter Lougheed, being a true conservative, would never give the green light to environmental degradation. It’s February 3, and the head honcho of the UCP still seems to be in hiding. The effects of the disastrous policies of the UCP are going to be with us for a very long time to come.

  4. Given the amounts of money being donated to the #FluTruxKlan’s GoFundMe by US-based donors, does anyone think JK’s buddy, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, will set up a public inquiry on foreign-funded anti-vaxxers? No?

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