Environmental groups serve Kenney, Alberta government with defamation lawsuit | The Canadian News

Five environmental organizations have followed a threat to sue Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta, and the provincial government for libel.

In documents filed Wednesday in Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench, the groups allege that Kenney deliberately distorted the findings of a public inquiry or the groups used foreign funding to try to include Alberta oil by spreading misinformation about its environmental impacts. .

“There’s a line that (Kenney) crossed,” Paul Champ, an environmentalist’s lawyer, said in an interview. “If you do not hold him accountable for something like that, there is really no limit to him.”

READ MORE: Environmentalists threaten Premier Kenney with lawsuit over Alberta investigative remarks

In October, Calgary’s forensic accountant Steve Allan submitted the results of his investigation.

He wrote that he did not find any organized campaign of misinformation. Nothing illegal happened and the groups simply exercised their free speech rights.

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He found that although the groups did accept money from the US to oppose oil sands development, that money amounted to about $ 3.5 million a year – about the cost of Allan’s investigation.

READ MORE: Alberta’s public inquiry finds no offense in oil sands campaign

But the groups allege that even after Allan’s report was released, Kenney made public statements and social media posts that they still falsely accused, statements that were repeated on government websites.

The lawsuit contains allegations that have not been proven in court and a statement of defense has not yet been filed.

The government has hired outside lawyers to defend itself and the prime minister.

“This case is before the courts and would be inappropriate to comment on,” said Kenney spokesman Justin Brattinga. “The prime minister and Alberta’s government will defend themselves vigorously in court, as the facts are on our side.”

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READ MORE: Premier Jason Kenney hires lawyers over Alberta investigates environmental lawsuit

Tim Gray of Environmental Defense, one of the plaintiffs, said he was not aware of a similar lawsuit previously launched by an advocacy group.

“I’m used to the thrust of policy debate and that’s fine,” he said. “But to say that a public inquiry paid for with public money has come to the conclusion that something is exactly the opposite of what it did, pushes it just a little too far.”

Gray claims the remarks were a deliberate attempt to damage the reputation of environmental groups.

“It does undermine our credibility. It gives people who want to marginalize the value of our information, someone who is important to point out who says, ‘This is the truth.’

The five groups in the lawsuit are Environmental Defense, West Coast Environmental Law, Stand.Earth, Dogwood and the Wilderness Committee.

Their statement of claim claims Kenney’s remarks were “malicious, arrogant, arrogant and reckless.”

It says the plaintiffs wrote to Kenney on November 22 to express their concern and asked for a correction and an apology.

“To date, the accused have not communicated or written any corrections or apologies.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press


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