EDMONTON – The Alberta government has hired a private law firm to defend Prime Minister Jason Kenney after environmental groups threatened him with a libel lawsuit.
Paul Champ, a lawyer for the environmentalists, says he has been notified that the province has hired a lawyer.
“(Kenney’s) attorney advises that they will review the matter and respond ‘substantially’ in the near future,” Champ said in an email. “We hope that Prime Minister Kenney will receive sound advice on this matter.”
The threat of the lawsuit was made in a letter to Kenney last month by eight groups alleging that the prime minister deliberately misrepresented the findings of a public inquiry into his activities and sources of funding.
That investigation, led by Calgary forensic accountant Steve Allan, looked at whether environmental groups were conspiring to block Alberta oil by spreading misinformation about its environmental impacts. The investigation found that the groups had done nothing wrong and were within their rights to freedom of expression.
But the groups say that even after Allan’s report was released, Kenney continued to falsely accuse them of spreading misinformation about Alberta’s energy industry in public statements, social media posts and government websites. The specific documents are mentioned in the letter Kenney received.
The groups allege that these statements were intended to damage their reputation and credibility with the public.
What people are reading
They ask for an apology, for the posts to be removed, and for the websites to be rewritten.
A spokesman for Kenney’s office has previously said they would “respond vigorously in court if necessary.”
The letter had given Kenney until November 30 to agree to those lawsuits before filing a statement of claim against him. Champ said the government’s move to hire attorneys from outside the government will delay filing as Kenney’s attorneys review the facts and advise their clients.
The Alberta government hired a private law firm to defend Prime Minister Jason Kenney after environmental groups threatened him with a libel lawsuit. #ableg #cdnpoli
“Assuming the prime minister follows this advice, we hope those posts will be removed with an apology,” Champ wrote.
Allan’s investigation cost taxpayers $ 3.5 million.
This Canadian Press report was first published on December 2, 2021.