Posted on November 30, 2020 (updated: November 30, 2020)

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

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney
Photo by Government of Alberta, via Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND2.0)

CALGARY – Ecojustice executive director Devon Page made the following statement in response to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decision to dismiss an injunction application to suspend the provincial government’s Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns until after a hearing on the inquiry’s legality can be held:

“The court’s decision, while disappointing, won’t stop Ecojustice from continuing to challenge the Kenney government’s inquiry into ‘anti-Alberta’ activities and expose it for the sham that it is.

“Canadians should be free to criticize Alberta’s unsustainable oil and gas policies without fear that judicial processes will be manipulated to silence them.  Premier Kenney isn’t a tin-pot dictator.

“The court found that the harm posed by the inquiry is ‘speculative’ until a public report is released and that Ecojustice’s allegations such as political motivation and bias can be addressed in the main hearing.  So, we’re headed to trial.  That means more taxpayer dollars will go to defend a politically motivated stunt when they could be better used supporting Alberta’s schools, hospitals and the pandemic response.

“This inquiry is nothing more than a political stunt, without a legitimate objective or transparent fact-finding process, and Ecojustice remains committed to challenging the inquiry’s legality in court in the coming months.”

Background: 

  • Ecojustice first launched its legal challenge of the Kenney government’s Public Inquiry into Anti-Albertan Energy Campaigns in November 2019. The case was to be heard in spring 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic. A new hearing date has not yet been set but the court has proposed that hearing dates be assigned promptly. 
  • Ecojustice, the largest environmental law charity in Canada, argues that the government brought the inquiry for improper political purposes, that the proceedings give the perception of bias and unfairness, and that the inquiry sets out to deal with issues that are beyond the powers of a provincial inquiry.
  • The inquiry has been marked by disruption and controversy. The Alberta government extended the due date for the inquiry’s final report by four months,  tried to remedy deficiencies in the terms of reference through an mid-inquiry overhaul, and earmarked an additional $1M in funding, 
  • After the original court date was postponed indefinitely and because changes to the terms of reference did not address Ecojustice’s key concerns, Ecojustice filed an injunction to halt the commission’s work until the court could rule on the legality of the inquiry. 

Ecojustice goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, innovative public interest lawsuits lead to legal precedents 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.

For media inquiries

Emily Chan, communications strategist | Ecojustice
echan@ecojustice.ca

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