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The Alberta government has extended until October an investigation into whether foreign groups are funding anti-oil protests in Canada, the Canadian Press reports, citing Energy Minister Sonya Savage.
According to Savage, the initial findings of the investigation had suggested the investigators needed more time to complete the work.
The original deadline for the completion of this investigation was July 2.
Last year, the Conservative government announced the launch of an energy war room—the Canadian Energy Centre—to improve the public image of the province's top revenue generator.
"For too long, the reputation of Alberta's energy sector has been damaged by a deceitful campaign to landlock the oil sands. The Canadian Energy Centre will focus on improving perceptions about the oil and gas industry," Alberta's Energy Minister said last October, adding that it would apply a "fact-based approach to counteracting the misinformation about our industry."
Earlier in 2019, Savage slammed several media outlets for misrepresentations of the Alberta oil sands industry, including Politico and, more notably, National Geographic, which ended up editing a story—twice—that had several facts about Alberta's oil industry wrong.
Meanwhile, the government went after foreign organizations that allegedly finance anti-oil coverage. In the summer of 2019, it announced it had allocated almost $1.9 million to a fund to investigate these foreign organizations, which it claims are leading a concerted effort to tarnish the image of the oil sands industry.
Now, in addition to extending the probe, the government will also increase the funds dedicated to investigating the alleged involvement of foreign players in Canadian energy protests, by US$730,000 (C$1 million), to come from the Canadian Energy Centre.
The investigation, which was an election promise of Premier Jason Kenney, has drawn criticism and even a legal complaint by environmental law firm Ecojustice, which asked the court to strike down the probe, claiming it was outside the jurisdiction of Alberta and that it was politically motivated and rested on prejudged conclusions.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com