File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS The United Conservative government has launched a multi-pronged attack on groups Kenney has accused of mounting a ‘campaign of lies and defamation’ against the oil and gas industry.

Amnesty ‘deeply concerned’ about Alberta’s plans to fight oil industry foes

CALGARY — Amnesty International has warned Alberta Premier Jason Kenney that his government’s fight against oil and gas industry foes puts human rights at risk.

The head of the group’s Canadian branch outlined his concerns in an open letter Tuesday that highlighted Alberta’s public inquiry into foreign funding of environmental groups and its $30-million war room to combat critics through social media, advertising and the press.

“Amnesty International is deeply concerned that these initiatives undermine and violate a range of Alberta’s human rights obligations, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, the rights of Indigenous peoples and gender equality,” wrote secretary general Alex Neve.

The United Conservative government has launched a multi-pronged attack on groups Kenney has accused of mounting a “campaign of lies and defamation.” He has blamed Canada’s inability to build new market-opening pipelines — and the associated economic woes in Alberta — on deep-pocketed U.S. charities that have unfairly maligned Canadian energy.

Although Alberta has enacted no laws stopping environmentalists from expressing their views, the government has created a toxic environment by labelling them liars and enemies, Neve said.

“That really stands to cast an incredible chill amongst environmental groups and others in the province, some of whom will nonetheless push through,” he said. ”Others will become cautious and fearful, will feel that it’s not worth speaking out, that there may be repercussions, that they don’t want to expose themselves to danger.”

Neve said threats — many of a sexually violent nature — tend to be aimed at women and Indigenous people who speak out.

The government’s promise to crack down on foreign funding of environmental organizations runs afoul of the right to free association, he added.

Under international law, groups have the right to work together on important social and environmental issues such as climate change — and that includes seeking and receiving funding to do so, Neve said.

In a speech to an oilsands conference in Fort McMurray, Alta., Kenney ridiculed Amnesty’s letter.

The premier said he set up an Amnesty International club in high school because of its work on behalf of prisoners in authoritarian dictatorships.

“The world must be in a pretty good place now with respect to human rights if they’re now focusing their attention on efforts by the government of Alberta to advocate for the environmentally responsible development of resources,” said Kenney, who added he intends to write back to Neve.

Kenney said Canada has a moral obligation to provide its energy to the world.

“Is it really the view of Amnesty International that the world would be better if this country — this great champion of human dignity, of equality, of opportunity, of environmental protection — were to abandon global energy markets to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia and Venezuela?”

Neve said it’s Alberta’s prerogative to defend its industry vigorously.

“The measures the government chooses to defend the industry … absolutely (need) to be entirely compliant with our human rights obligations and needs to go far in ensuring that words are chosen, tone is chosen in a way that is not going to add to the toxicity of the debate.”

oil & gas

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First-time impaired drivers a focus in Alberta

Province introduces the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act

Red Deer RCMP chase dangerous driving suspect into river

Vehicle chase on Thursday ended at McKenzie Trails, where man tried to escape by running into river

Alberta’s 15.5 % unemployment second worst in country

Only Newfoundland’s 16.3 % unemployment is higher among provinces

National unemployment rate hits new record even as economy adds jobs

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada reports a record high unemployment rate as the… Continue reading

PODCAST: Black Lives Matter in central Alberta

Community organizers come on the show to discuss central Albertan anti-racist movement

If you’re going shopping, please be sure to wear a mask

If you want my opinion, everyone should be wearing a mask while… Continue reading

PODCAST: Black Lives Matter in central Alberta

Community organizers come on the show to discuss central Albertan anti-racist movement

MLB players reaffirm pay stance, no deal with teams in sight

NEW YORK — Baseball players reaffirmed their stance for full prorated pay,… Continue reading

B.C. Lions players Burnham, Johnson admit they feel safer in Canada than in U.S.

B.C. Lions players Bryan Burnham and Micah Johnson say they feel safer… Continue reading

Universal takes first steps reviving Orlando theme park biz

ORLANDO, Fla. — With masks on their faces and temperature checks at… Continue reading

US commercial casinos won $43.6 billion in 2019, up 3.7%

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Helped by the continuing spread of legal sports… Continue reading

Alberta Opposition calls on government to consult on provincial parks

Alberta Opposition calls on government to consult on provincial parks

Alberta overhauls real estate regulator in wake of prior dysfunctional board

Alberta overhauls real estate regulator in wake of prior dysfunctional board

Most Read