EDMONTON, AB – Amnesty International has sent an Open Letter to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, highlighting serious human rights concerns with his aggressive approach to defending the oil and gas industry from criticism, including plans to establish an “energy war room” and a public inquiry into the alleged foreign funding of groups who oppose or criticize energy developments in the province.
The human rights organization is deeply concerned that Kenney’s proposed “Fight Back Strategy” undermines and violates a range of Alberta’s human rights obligations, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law. Further, his approach exposes human rights defenders – particularly Indigenous, women, and environmental human rights defenders – to intimidation and threats.
Apart from a call to abandon the Fight Back Strategy, Amnesty International urges Kenney to:
Ensure that any initiatives to promote the oil and gas industry in Alberta are fully consistent with Alberta’s international human rights obligations and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Actively and consistently promote and uphold the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful protest.
Retract any inflammatory statements made about human rights defenders and refrain from any accusations that directly or indirectly smear, stigmatize or could lead to threats and violence against them.
Make clear that the Alberta government will hold all actors involved in the province’s oil and gas industry – including companies, industry associations and advocacy groups supportive of the industry – accountable for their human rights responsibilities, in particular respecting the rights and safety of human rights defenders, Indigenous peoples and persons of all genders.
Ensure that public funds will not be used in any way that leads directly or indirectly to the harassment, surveillance or criminalization of human rights defenders who oppose or criticize the Alberta government’s energy agenda and its implications for the rights of Indigenous peoples and addressing the global climate crisis.
Refer all cases involving threats against human rights defenders targeted for their opposition to or criticism of the oil and gas industry to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or municipal police forces for investigation.
Work with human rights defenders who have been threatened, to put in place measures they deem necessary for the protection of their human rights.
Ensure that any government efforts to counter criticism of the oil industry in Alberta are consistent with the province’s responsibility to address the rapidly mounting human rights impacts of the global climate crisis.
Further to the Open Letter, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve will be at the University of Alberta in Edmonton on Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. to participate in a panel discussion on Kenney’s initiatives to defend the oil and gas industry. The other panellists include Laurie Adkin, Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta; Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action; Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence; and moderator James L. Turk, Director of Ryerson University’s Centre for Free Expression.
To arrange an interview with Alex Neve, or for more information, please contact: Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), 613-744-7667 ext. 236, firstname.lastname@example.org