Alberta energy war room surrenders to pandemic – for now

Energy minister vows to continue campaign on behalf of oil and gas industry, post-COVID-19

Business in Vancouver
March 31, 2020

Alberta Canadian Energy Centre Sonya Savage Jason Kenney
Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage (left) and Premier Jason Kenney officially launch the Canadian Energy Centre on December 11, 2019 at SAIT. | Photo by Deborah Jaremko/JWN

Alberta’s so-called energy war room has left the battlefield – for now.

The creation of the Canadian Energy Centre (CEC) was a $30 million election promise by Premier Jason Kenney dedicated to fighting the perceived enemies of Alberta’s energy sector, such as environmentalists.

“I have a message to those foreign-funded special interests who have been leading a campaign of economic sabotage against this great province,” Kenney said April 16, 2019. “To the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, to the Tides Foundation, to Leadnow, to the David Suzuki Foundation, and to all of the others, your days of pushing around Albertans with impunity just ended.”

The centre also planned to tout the benefits of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to all Canadians, particularly British Columbians.

But the centre was put on hold March 30 with its $30 million budget slashed by 90% to reflect pandemic needs.

A release from Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said most of the centre’s budget was earmarked for paid advertising campaigns that cannot proceed during the pandemic.

Spending will be limited to functions such as continuing and preparing research, office infrastructure and administrative support until regular operations can recommence.

“While some would like to capitalize on this unprecedented crisis to permanently shut down Canadian oil and gas, we do not believe we should surrender the global energy market to these opponents,” Savage said. “The CEC will continue to be required to promote and defend Canadian energy.”

The centre has generated controversy from its inception. Alberta’s NDP has called the CEC a “parade of errors” and has called for its closure.

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