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Alberta government officially launches 'Energy War Room' in Calgary
CALGARY -- The Government of Alberta debuted its "Energy War Room" Wednesday morning in Calgary.
Under its incorporated name, the Canadian Energy Centre (CEC), the initiative aims to fight against so-called foreign-funded campaigns attacking Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
Premier Jason Kenney, alongside Energy Minister Sonya Savage and CEC managing director Tom Olsen, launched the province's energy war room Wednesday morning with an announcement at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).
The $30-million campaign is just one piece of Alberta’s fight back strategy that includes a $2.5-million public inquiry into allegations that foreign-funded interests are denigrating Alberta’s oil and gas reputation. It means the province will be directing attacks on the funding sources of non-profit environmental groups like the David Suzuki Foundation.
Kenney said the Canadian Energy Centre will take a fact-based approach to counteracting what he calls misinformation. It hopes to collaborate with industry, academia and Indigenous groups to improve the overall public perception of Alberta’s oil sands.
Savage said the initiative will work in three separate units, comprised of rapid response, energy literacy and data research teams.
Not everyone agrees with the provincial government's plan. Environmental organizations, including the Pembina Institute and Green Peace, have called the war room a clear example of distorting the truth about negative environmental impacts.
There have also been concerns because the CEC will be a private entity owned by the province and not subject to freedom of information laws.
Savage told reporters the CEC would be open to requests under Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Privacy ACT (FOIP). FOIP allows journalists and members of the public to ask for documents and other specific information from public bodies or organization.
However, in a statement, Christine Myatt, press secretary to the premier, said that would not be the case.
"The CEC’s internal operations are not subject to FOIP, as this would provide a tactical and/or strategical advantage to the very foreign-funded special interests the CEC is looking to counter."
Myatt said the CEC would still be subject to any audits by the auditor general and the Personal Information Protection Act.