Fighting for fairness: Challenging Jason Kenney’s biased inquiry into “anti-Alberta” activities

Ecojustice Canada Society v. Alberta
By Government of Alberta, via Flickr
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Ecojustice challenged Premier Jason Kenney’s controversial public inquiry into “anti-Alberta” activities.

We said the inquiry was nothing more than a political exercise, aimed at silencing and targeting environmental organizations and distracting Canadians from the climate crisis on their doorstep.

In November 2019, our lawyers filed an application in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench saying the Alberta public inquiry was unlawful and should be struck down. Ecojustice challenged the inquiry on three grounds:

  • First, that the government brought the inquiry for improper, political purposes
  • Second, that the inquiry proceedings raise serious concerns around bias and unfairness
  • Third, that the inquiry sets out to deal with issues that don’t actually fall under provincial jurisdiction


Unfortunately, on May 14, 2021, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that the controversial and beleaguered public inquiry into “anti-Alberta” activities could proceed. After four deadline extensions and widespread criticism to the government, the inquiry’s final report is due to be delivered to the Alberta government on July 30.

Instead of taking steps to protect Albertans from the climate crisis, the province has so far wasted $3.5 million on a partisan stunt that will serve no purpose in the long run.

Ecojustice is committed to holding governments accountable, standing up for principles of fairness, fighting climate change, and supporting our allies in the province.

Kenney’s public inquiry aimed to sow division, intimidate organizations and individuals who challenge the pace and scope of oil and gas development, and distract Canadians from the climate crisis.

Why? Because fanning the flames of a conspiracy theory about U.S. funding and blaming others is easier and more politically advantageous than accepting the science and facing the climate crisis head-on.

Kenney’s inquiry was never about fact-finding. If the premier wanted a legitimate investigation, he would have ensured the process was fair and unbiased — and he would not just target environmental organizations. He would examine foreign funding both against and for Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

Ecojustice challenged the inquiry because we believed it could not legally go ahead — and because, in the midst of a climate crisis, we cannot afford to let politicians like Jason Kenney play politics with our future.

What this outcome means

We lost the court case, but we won the debate. The Alberta government’s public inquiry lost all credibility.

Most importantly, our court case successfully neutralized the premier’s primary goal: to target and silence Canadians and Canadian charities who want to break the fossil fuel industries’ stranglehold on Alberta’s climate and energy policy.

The court’s decision set a concerning precedent that may encourage other governments to use public resources and processes to silence public debate. Still, Ecojustice is – now more than ever – resolved to continue using the power of the law to fight for a safe environment for everyone in Canada.

Where does Ecojustice’s funding come from?

Ecojustice is proud to be 100 per cent funded by individuals and organizations who share our vision of a thriving environment, safe climate, and healthy communities protected by effective, well-enforced laws.

We have nothing to hide. That’s why we decided to take an in-depth look at our funding in this blog.

Read “The facts on Ecojustice funding” here.

Learn more: On Feb. 4, 2021, Ecojustice hosted a webinar titled "Fighting for fairness Challenging Premier Kenney’s inquiry into ‘Anti-Alberta’ activities," here. Watch the conversation here.

Key developments

Press release

Alberta government finally releases contentious public inquiry report, Ecojustice reacts

For immediate release: October 21, 2021 CALGARY/TERRITORIES OF THE BLACKFOOT AND PEOPLES OF TREATY 7, HOME TO MÉTIS NATION OF ALBERTA, ...

October 21, 2021

Press release

Alberta public inquiry allowed to proceed, decision sets concerning precedent

Premier Jason Kenney’s controversial and beleaguered public inquiry into “anti-Alberta” activities allowed to proceed CALGARY/TERRI...

May 14, 2021

Press release

Ecojustice heads to court to challenge Alberta public inquiry

CALGARY/TERRITORIES OF THE BLACKFOOT AND PEOPLES OF TREATY 7, HOME TO MÉTIS NATION OF ALBERTA, REGION III – Ecojustice will appear in the...

February 10, 2021

Press release

Alberta public inquiry: Ecojustice to appear in court Thursday and Friday

CALGARY/TERRITORIES OF THE BLACKFOOT AND PEOPLES OF TREATY 7, HOME TO MÉTIS NATION OF ALBERTA, REGION III – Lawyers from Ecojustice will ...

February 8, 2021

Blog

What’s happening in Alberta?

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his government are on the defensive, fighting multiple lawsuits and on the receiving end of public outcry o...

January 21, 2021

Press release

Climate denier reports underscore Alberta inquiry’s illegitimacy

CALGARY/TERRITORIES OF THE BLACKFOOT AND PEOPLES OF TREATY 7, HOME TO MÉTIS NATION OF ALBERTA, REGION III – The latest update from the co...

January 14, 2021

Press release

Ecojustice undeterred in fight against ‘Anti-Alberta’ public inquiry

CALGARY – Ecojustice executive director Devon Page made the following statement in response to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decisi...

November 30, 2020

Blog

Opinion: Shut down inquiry on anti-Alberta campaigns until court ruling

After more than a year, millions of taxpayer dollars and nothing to show for it, the deadline for reporting back on Premier Jason Kenney’s...

November 4, 2020

Press release

Ecojustice files injunction to halt Alberta’s unfair public inquiry until court makes ruling

CALGARY - Ecojustice is seeking an injunction to suspend the Kenney government’s public inquiry into “anti-Alberta” campaigns until th...

July 27, 2020

Press release

Albertans deserve transparency on controversial public inquiry: Ecojustice

CALGARY — Ecojustice is urging the province to end the secrecy around its “Public Inquiry into Anti-Albertan Energy Campaigns.” In ...

March 11, 2020

Press release

Ecojustice launches legal challenge against divisive Alberta public inquiry

CALGARY – Ecojustice is taking the Jason Kenney government to court over its controversial inquiry into environmental organizations and ...

November 21, 2019

Blog

The facts on Ecojustice funding

Since the early 1990s, Ecojustice has won dozens of precedent-setting legal victories and shaped the laws that are the cornerstone of initia...

November 21, 2019

Press release

UCP campaign donations raise questions of bias in Alberta public inquiry

CALGARY – Public political donation records raise serious questions about Steve Allan’s ability to impartially carry out his duties as c...

November 15, 2019

Press release

Kenney should expect legal action if commissioner fails to address flaws in ‘unlawful’ inquiry

CALGARY – Jason Kenney’s government could be at the receiving end of a court challenge if the commissioner in charge of a controversial ...

September 18, 2019

Blog

Standing up to Premier Kenney and defending free speech

Ecojustice is fighting back against Premier Jason Kenney’s targeted and politically-motivated attacks on people, environmental charities a...

September 18, 2019

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