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

Letter slams war room to fight critics, public inquiry into foreign funding of environmental groups

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney discusses the accomplishments of his government in its first 100 days in office, in Edmonton on Wednesday August 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney discusses the accomplishments of his government in its first 100 days in office, in Edmonton on Wednesday August 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Amnesty International says it’s “deeply concerned” about the Alberta government’s plans to fight back against oil and gas industry critics.

Alex Neve, secretary general of the human rights group’s Canadian branch, has written a letter to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

In it, Neve urges Kenney to abandon his “fight back strategy” as currently envisioned.

The strategy includes a public inquiry into foreign funding of environmental groups and a $30-million war room to take on critics through ads and social media.

Neve writes that Amnesty is worried those initiatives undermine and violate a range of Alberta’s human rights obligations under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law.

He says those include freedom of expression, freedom of association as well as the rights of Indigenous peoples and gender equality.

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“Amnesty International is also gravely concerned that these initiatives, and the rhetoric surrounding them, feeds into a worsening climate of hostility towards human rights defenders — particularly Indigenous, women and environmental human rights defenders — exposing them to intimidation and threats, including threats of violence,” the letter states.

The Canadian Press