Ecojustice Case – Climate change Case Status: In Progress

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

Barry RobinsonBarry RobinsonLawyer
Anna McIntoshAnna McIntoshLawyer
Michael DohertyMichael DohertyLawyer
Melissa GorrieLawyer
Jason Kenney Doug Schweitzer public inquiry
By Government of Alberta, via Flickr

Ecojustice is going to court to challenge Premier Jason Kenney’s controversial public inquiry into “anti-Alberta” activities.

We say the inquiry is nothing more than a political exercise, aimed at silencing and targeting environmental organizations and distracting Canadians from the climate crisis on their doorstep. Instead of taking steps to protect Albertans from the climate crisis, the province is wasting millions of dollars on a partisan stunt that will serve no purpose in the long run.

But Ecojustice won’t be intimidated. In November 2019, our lawyers filed an application in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench to challenge the inquiry on three grounds:

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

Legally, these issues mean the inquiry cannot go ahead under its current terms of reference.

Why is Ecojustice involved?

Ecojustice is committed to holding governments to account, to standing up for principles of fairness, and to protecting Canadians’ rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association.

In its current form, the inquiry also doesn’t provide basic protections of due process and fair participation. The process as laid out is not fair, open and transparent. And, if it proceeds, it could pave the way for the government to take action in ways that infringe upon Canadians’ Charter-protected rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Ecojustice is also committed to combatting climate change, to continuing its important on-the-ground work in Alberta, and to supporting our allies in the province.

Unfortunately, Kenney’s public inquiry aims to sow division, intimidate organizations and individuals who challenge the pace and score of oil and gas development, and distract Canadians from the climate emergency. It unfairly targets Ecojustice and our partners in the province, and makes biased assumptions about our work and funding.

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

Kenney’s inquiry has never been about fact finding. If the premier really wanted a legitimate investigation, he’d ensure the process is fair and unbiased — and he wouldn’t just target environmental organizations. He’d examine foreign funding both against and for Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

We’re challenging the inquiry because we say it cannot legally go ahead — and because, in the middle of a climate crisis, we cannot afford to let politicians like Jason Kenney play politics with our future.

What would a win mean?

If Ecojustice wins this case, the court will strike down the inquiry’s terms of reference. As a result, the inquiry will not be able to proceed as planned.

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.

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