Alberta premier says energy war room will be respectful as it takes on critics – CFJC Today Kamloops

Posted: December 15, 2019 at 12:41 am

TheMuttart Foundation, an Edmonton charity, disputes the notion that opposition to Albertas oil and gas industry is bankrolled by foreign money. Using Canada Revenue Agency data, it found Alberta charities received less than three per cent of their revenues from foreign sources.

Human rights group Amnesty International Canada has warned that the war room and public inquiry threaten freedom of expression and association.

Legal advocacy group Ecojustice has also filed a court challenge citing similar concerns.

If there areorganizations that use their free speech to put misinformation into the public square, we will respond, Kenney said.

Thats not attacking freedom of speech. Its responding to the content of the speech. Thats called public discourse.

He said the centre will react withrespect, civility and professionalism.

The centre is to have a research unit,an energyliteracy unitand a rapid response team to challenge misinformation. Its website lists eight staff members, half of whom used to work in the media.

CEO Tom Olsen, a one-time journalist andformerpremier Ed Stelmachs spokesman,ran unsuccessfully as aUnited Conservative Partycandidate in the April provincial election.

He said he anticipates adding staff as the centre ramps up.

We will be effective and mindful of the money that we spend, which is taxpayers money, he said.

One-thirdof the budget comes from existing provincial advertisingmoney, and the rest from a levy on major industrial emitters.

The centreaims toget its message out through advertising, publicity and social media.Olsendescribed it as part new media organization, part think tank, research hub.

He said hes not sure whether the war room will reach out topeople or organizationsprivately to request corrections.

Its website, which went up Tuesday,has severalarticles by centre staff. Theres oneabout an Indigenous businessman proposing to build a pipeline, another about how Canadian natural gas can help lower global greenhouse gas emissions anda story headlined Alberta father irked by charity group that targets fossil fuel industry.

Outside the news conference, about a dozen protesters wearing festive reindeer antlers sang about climate change to the tune of Christmas carols, which included Cool Down the World and We Wish You a Stable Climate.

In Edmonton, Opposition Leader Rachel Notley called the centre a slush fund for Kenneys political goals. She said it has no firewalls or safeguards to ensure that the data, research and work of the centre is not used for the benefit of the UCP or its political allies.

She also questioned whether the centre will stick to its promise to keep debate to the facts and to not target individual Albertans who disagree with the governments stance.

I certainly hope were not using taxpayers dollars to attack Albertans, to attack people who have other concerns and other priorities.

Duncan Kenyon, Alberta regional director of the environmental think tank Pembina Institute, said he laments the governmentsfocus on fighting fossil fuel foes when everyone should be working together on tackling climate change.

We actually more than ever need to come together to figure out how to decarbonize and diversify our energy, he said.

We need to respond to where the world and the markets and the people that are going to buy this product are going.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 11, 2019.

With files from Dean Bennett in Edmonton

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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Alberta premier says energy war room will be respectful as it takes on critics - CFJC Today Kamloops

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