Kenney and Scheer vow to fight 'lies' of oil and gas opponents

The politicians were speaking at an energy conference in Calgary hosted by a conservative public relations group. The two conservative leaders raised the spectre of shutting down environmental groups who oppose development.

Kenney said he would fund legal fights and establish a 'war room' within Alberta Energy if elected

From left to right: Alberta Economic Minister Deron Bilous, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney are all in Calgary to speak about how Canada can regain its competitive edge in international energy markets. (Canadian Press/CBC)

Jason Kenney, the leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta, says if he were elected premier, he would fund legal action to support energy development and put the weight of the government behind targeting opponents. 

He was the first speaker at the Energy Relaunch conference taking place at the Metropolitan Centre in downtown Calgary on Thursday.

Kenney said he would establish a "war room" within Alberta's department of energy to counter what he called the lies perpetuated by opponents of oil and gas development. 

He also suggested his government would establish a legal fund to support groups that want to take their support of energy development to the courts.

"If I'm premier we'll be writing cheques to allow them to go to court," Kenney said. "We'll be supporting pro-development litigation."

Kenney said there's too much of a focus on the minority of First Nations who are anti development.

Watch Jason Kenney and Deron Bilous speak at the Energy Relaunch conference below:

CRA audits and boycotts

Kenney also said a government led by him would aggressively investigate what he called "flagrant violations" of Canada's charity laws by environmental groups and submit that evidence to the Canada Revenue Agency — reminiscent of what happened when he was a minister in Stephen Harper's federal Conservative government. 

He would also boycott companies that boycott Canada's energy — specifically mentioning HSBC — and said there would be consequences for other Canadian jurisdictions that oppose Alberta's oil and gas industry. 

The Alberta government didn't hold back in its response to Kenney's comments, emailed to CBC News.

"Premier Rachel Notley is busy fighting every day to build a pipeline to the West Coast and diversify our economy. Jason Kenney's plan is to make rich lawyers even richer and start fights on Twitter, while continuing his spotless record of failure to get a pipeline built when he had the chance," reads a statement attributed to the energy minister's spokesperson.

"Thanks to Premier Rachel Notley, more Canadians than ever before support our fight for Alberta's energy sector, and we're not going to back down."

Federal Conservatives echo Kenney

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer echoed some of Kenney's sentiments when he spoke at the conference on Thursday afternoon.

He was tough on the federal government's purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline project, suggesting Conservatives would build pipelines "without having to buy them."

"Justin Trudeau has bought a pipeline without actually planning to build it," he said. "He's punted the ball yet again and announced another round that will push this process down months ahead from now." 

He said those who oppose oil and gas development are spreading lies and those groups who support it should be celebrated. 

Scheer said his party would immediately repeal Bill C-69, which would replace the National Energy Board with the Canadian Energy Regulator and create a new Impact Assessment Agency. Scheer called the bill, still under consideration in the Senate, the biggest threat to the oilpatch since the National Energy Program.

He also said he would force projects through that were in the national interest, end the tanker ban on the north coast of British Columbia, and kill the federal carbon tax. 

Watch Andrew Scheer speak at the Energy Relaunch conference below:

NDP points to success

Alberta's minister of trade and economic development said if you treat the economy and the environment as "mutually exclusive," you will fail. 

Deron Bilous told the crowd there is a role for government to play with industry in order to support the energy sector and contrasted his government's stimulus spending with Saskatchewan's austerity approach. 

"If you fast forward to today, those two different approach have led to two very different results," he said, citing positive job growth and GDP growth in Alberta compared with its eastern neighbour.

Watch Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe speak at the Energy Relaunch conference below:

CBC covered the Energy Relaunch conference in Calgary on Thursday. The event was hosted by New West Public Affairs, a conservative communications firm, and addressed the future of energy in Canada with some of the country's leading politicians. 

And while Kenney renewed his promise that a UCP government would immediately kill the provincial carbon tax, Bilous said Albertans pay the lowest taxes in the country and said the price on carbon is pushing innovation. 

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