CALGARY/TERRITORIES OF THE BLACKFOOT AND PEOPLES OF TREATY 7, HOME TO MÉTIS NATION OF ALBERTA, REGION III – Ecojustice will appear in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench to challenge the controversial public inquiry on “anti-Alberta” energy campaigns as part of a two-day hearing, taking place Thursday and Friday.
Ecojustice is asking the court to quash the inquiry on three grounds: first, that the government of Alberta brought the inquiry for improper, political purposes; second, that the inquiry raises serious concerns around bias and unfairness; third, that the inquiry sets out to deal with issues that are not under provincial jurisdiction.
Devon Page, the executive director of Ecojustice, issued the following statement about the legal challenge:
“From the very beginning, the public inquiry has been a waste of Albertan taxpayers’ time, patience and dollars at best and a calculated attempt to weaken opposition and undermine efforts to combat climate change at worst. That’s why Ecojustice is going to court to challenge it.
“Our lawyers argue the inquiry is unlawful, biased and nothing more than a political exercise. Ecojustice is asking the court to overturn the order which enabled the inquiry in the first place – rendering the entire process null.
“Meanwhile, outside the courtroom, the inquiry has already proven itself to be a farce. The inquiry was never about fact finding, and the recent revelation that commissioner Steve Allan spent tens of thousands of dollars on reports described as ‘junk science’ and ‘climate denialism’ further underscores this. The inquiry already lacks any credibility in the public eye. Now all that’s left is for the court to agree.”
- The Alberta government launched the public inquiry in July 2019.
- Ecojustice announced its legal challenge of the inquiry four months later, in November 2019.
- To date, the deadline for the final inquiry report has been extended three times. It is now due at the end of May 2021.
- The province also increased the budget for the inquiry by $1M. The total cost now sits at $3.5M.
- In addition to needing an extended timeline and additional funding, the inquiry has been plagued with criticism.
- In November 2019, Ecojustice discovered that inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan had made donations to the UCP party, raising questions of bias in the inquiry process.
- In March 2020, Ecojustice sent a letter to the commissioner highlighting secrecy in the inquiry process and urging more transparency.
- In January 2021, Ecojustice issued a statement condemning Allan’s decision to pay for reports containing climate denialism and skepticism.
Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.