Environmentalist foreign funding inquiry given another 4 months and $1M to finish report
NDP calls inquiry 'a politically driven sham and an embarrassment'
The Calgary accountant leading the inquiry into alleged foreign funding of opponents of Alberta's resource sector has been granted a four-month extension and another $1 million to complete his work.
Energy Minister Sonya Savage said Thursday that inquiry commissioner Steve Allan has been given until Oct. 30 to submit his final report. The additional money will be diverted from funds set aside for the Canadian Energy Centre, she said.
"The commissioner's initial findings have shown that additional time and work is required to complete the final report," Savage said in a written statement.
"This extension will allow the commissioner to fairly and justly complete the inquiry process and follow up on the materials discovered to date. Due diligence cannot, and will not, be sacrificed on an issue this important to the future of our province and country."
Premier Jason Kenney announced Allan would lead the $2.5 million inquiry in July 2019.
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The original deadline for the final report was July 2, 2020. Allan submitted his interim report at the end of January.
Allan's work has been cloaked in secrecy since then.
The government declined to release Allan's interim report.
Environmental groups frequently cited by Premier Jason Kenney as hostile to Alberta's oil and gas industry like the Pembina Institute, Greenpeace, the David Suzuki Foundation and MakeWay, the organization formerly known as Tides Canada, said earlier this year that they had not been contacted by Allan for an interview.
Calgary-McCall MLA Irfan Sabir, the NDP critic for energy, was critical of the government's decision to spend more money on the inquiry.
"There certainly has not been a single development or recommendation that will improve Alberta's economy or create jobs, and now the premier is throwing another $1 million into Steve Allan's bank account and giving him a four-month extension, with no further details," Sabir said in a statement. "This inquiry has turned into a politically driven sham and an embarrassment."
A statement posted on the website for the inquiry states the report was extended to October 30, 2020 "to hear from funding entities that have been identified in the Inquiry's research to date, and to accommodate challenges due to COVID-19.
"In its work to date, the Inquiry has conducted more than 100 interviews with academics, researchers, industry officials, environmentalists, not-for-profit organizations and members of Indigenous communities to gather a variety of views."
The statement goes on to say the commissioner "will afford parties an opportunity to consider and respond to relevant material," and further information on the processes will be released in the near future.