4th deadline extension for inquiry into foreign-funded opposition to Alberta oil and gas

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Alberta’s inquiry into alleged foreign-funding of groups opposed to the province’s oil and gas industry was granted its fourth extension Wednesday, bumping the new deadline to July 30.

The final report by commissioner Steve Allan was supposed to be given to the government by May 31. In a statement Wednesday, Energy Minister Sonya Savage blamed a legal challenge for wasting time and leading to the need for an extension.

“Our government promised Albertans that we would fully investigate the widely reported foreign-funded campaign to land lock our resources and we are committed to fulfilling that promise,” she said.

Earlier this month, an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench judge dismissed an attempt to stop the inquiry in its tracks, ruling that the environmental law firm Ecojustice failed to prove the inquiry was called to intimidate charities that have raised concerns about the industry’s environmental impact.

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The inquiry has also faced controversy outside of the courtroom. Since being created in July 2019 it has been granted multiple extensions. In June 2020 Savage gave the inquiry an extra $1 million bringing the total budget to $3.5 million.

Savage said no additional funding was requested with this latest extension.

In January the inquiry was criticized for spending nearly $100,000 on reports critics called “textbook examples of climate change denialism” including one which argues that the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will create a dystopia ruled by restrictions akin to COVID-19 lockdowns.

At the time the inquiry said in a statement that Allan does not consider the science of climate change to be part of his mandate, and he does not intend to make any findings of fact respecting climate science in his final report.

In his interpretation of the inquiry’s terms of reference, Allan has also said that it is “impractical” in many if not most cases for the inquiry to determine whether what’s being said about development of oil and gas resources is misleading or false. He said the inquiry does not have the resources to do that.

In a statement Tuesday, NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley called the inquiry “bumbling.”

“The Premier’s bumbling inquiry has done nothing but drive investment out of the province. His so-called fight back strategy is clearly a farce,” she said.

Savage is required to publish the Allan inquiry’s final report within 90 days of receiving it.



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