Posted on November 15, 2019 (updated: November 15, 2019)

UCP campaign donations raise questions of bias in Alberta public inquiry

Jason Kenney Doug Schweitzer public inquiry
By Government of Alberta, via Flickr

CALGARY – Public political donation records raise serious questions about Steve Allan’s ability to impartially carry out his duties as commissioner of Alberta’s controversial public inquiry into environmental organizations, Ecojustice says.

Allan, whose full name is Jackson Stephens Allan, is in charge of conducting the United Conservative Party government’s “Inquiry into anti-Albertan energy campaigns,” and weighing the province’s accusations against evidence brought forward by environmental organizations.

However, records suggest Allan — or somebody with the same name — gave two donations to the UCP campaign in 2018, totaling $750.00. A separate log shows a “Jackson Allan” made a $1,000 cash donation to the leadership campaign for Doug Schweitzer in 2017. Schweitzer, now the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of Alberta, is in charge of overseeing the inquiry.

Ecojustice uncovered this information last month and sent a letter to the commissioner, notifying him of the discovery and requesting a response by Nov. 6.

The commissioner failed to reply by the deadline and has yet to acknowledge or account for the donations.

Barry Robinson, Ecojustice lawyer, issued the following statement:

“Records suggesting commissioner Allan may have made donations to the UCP and Minister Schweitzer’s campaign are more red flags in a process already mired in issues of bias and fairness.

“At the very least, the commissioner should be open with the public about whether or not these were his donations.  If these were his donations, it creates a perception of bias that throws the legitimacy of Premier Kenney’s public inquiry into question.

“If the commissioner is behind the political contributions, any reasonable person would question how he can be seen to impartially judge allegations the UCP, Premier Kenney and Minister Schweitzer have made against the environmental organizations the inquiry targets.

“This is in addition to the fact that the inquiry’s terms of reference also raise fundamental questions of fairness and rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.

“Uncertainty around Allan’s donation history lends further credence to what we already know: This public inquiry is nothing more than a political exercise aimed at targeting, silencing, and intimidating environmental charities and distracting Albertans from the climate crisis at hand.”

About:

Ecojustice is Canada’s largest environmental law charity. Ecojustice goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment for all.

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.

For more on Ecojustice’s funding, please visit: https://www.ecojustice.ca/about/financial-information/

For media inquiries

Please contact Emily Chan, communications specialist, at 1-800-926-7744 ext. 277

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