Is Alberta’s $30M energy war room living up to its intended purpose?
CALGARY -- The Canadian Energy Centre, or Alberta’s ‘Energy War Room’, which is aimed at dispelling myths about the province’s oil and gas sector, is once again under fire after taking aim at a children’s Netflix movie.
Bigfoot Family, a children’s cartoon film, has been described by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney as a film that portrays oil and gas industries plotting to kill people.
“So you can dismiss this as quote ‘merely a kids’ show’ but it's clear that they developed content designed to defame, in the most vicious way possible, in the impressionable minds of kids,” said Kenney on Tuesday.
The film follows Bigfoot, who wants to use his fame to help champion environmental stewardship, and depicts a fictional oil and gas company called XTrakt, which claims to be a clean energy producer.
As the movie progresses, Bigfoot goes missing after protesting against XTrakt's plans to expand its oil extraction efforts by dropping a bomb on a valley in Alaska.
Some Calgarians feel the money spent on the war room is too much.
“It's a waste of time, money and resources that could be better spent elsewhere in this province at this time,” said Gypsy-Marie Fleury.
Tim Cornish grew up with his family in Calgary, working in the energy sector.
He feels it is time to move on.
“You’ve got this money, why not put it towards R&D (research and development) instead of flogging a dead horse,” said Cornish.
One local oil and gas worker, who does not want to be identified in fears of losing their job, says they support the idea of the war room but the province is failing to bring results.
“The execution is lacking, and that’s way too much money for a war room,” she said.
“I think there has to be a balance of both sides. That’s fine if you want to do a Netflix movie on whatever, but have the other balanced side to it as well.”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the entire project has been a disaster.
“This war room has been a clumsy government PR firm, (and) we haven’t seen the value for it so far,” says Alberta Director, Franco Terrazzano.
“Our advice to the government would be to turn off the cartoons and work on the real priorities like fixing the $100 billion debt problem.”
Kenney says $10 million of the $30 million budget for the Canadian Energy Centre will be re-profiled through Government of Alberta advertising.
Alberta NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley wants to see the province defund the energy centre.
The premier said, during question period in the legislature on Wednesday, that the energy centre is currently operating on a $3 million budget due to the global pandemic last year.