Alberta's new energy minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd is facing questions about her chief of staff's previous job working for an advocacy group that lobbied against pipelines.
Graham Mitchell previously served as the interim executive director for the LeadNow Society. According to the federal lobbyist registry, the group lobbied against the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
LeadNow also requested "that the National Energy Board take into account climate science and open up hearings to the general public during the Energy East pipeline review process."
Wildrose energy critic Leela Aheer said appointing Mitchell to be chief of staff to the Alberta energy minister sends the wrong message to the energy sector.
"It's an interesting choice. We're not quite sure why," Aheer said. "We would love an explanation. It seems very contradictory to what's needed right now for stability in the energy sector."
McCuaig-Boyd said Mitchell had to register as a lobbyist when he took over LeadNow as interim executive director but insisted he never lobbied against pipelines.
"He was there for a few months and then he went back to the Broadbent Institute," she said.
McCuaig-Boyd said she didn't hire Mitchell. The process started in the office of then-premier designate Rachel Notley before McCuaig-Boyd was appointed minister.
"The premier's office did the hiring," she said. "[Mitchell] came here last week, I've only known him for a few days."
McCuaig-Boyd called Mitchell on Thursday afternoon after reporters grilled her about Mitchell's association with LeadNow.
The new minister seemed caught off-guard by the questions and tried deflecting some of them.
"My leadership is what is going to be what takes us in that direction and my staff will follow my direction in establishing market access," she said.
McCuaig-Boyd then walked away following pointed questions from reporters which included what role she had in Mitchell's hiring and whether she knew he was a lobbyist.
"I have to go I'm sorry, I'm going to be late," she said.