United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney says he would spend millions, and would bully and badger allies and foes alike, in a campaign to stop "all the lies and the myths told about our energy industry."
Kenney announced an 11-point plan Friday that, he said, would give the province the tools needed to fight special interest groups trying to sway public opinion in Canada and the United States against resource development in the province.
His so-called Fight Back Strategy would start with a $30 million "war room" in the public affairs bureau that would respond "in real time" to disinformation spread by special interest groups, Kenney told reporters on a roadside news conference outside the Trans Mountain terminal in east Edmonton.
Kenney said he if his party forms government, he would use "the persuasive power of the premier's bully pulpit to tell the truth of our energy industry across the country."
He vowed to enrol the help of the energy sector itself, and First Nations and the courts.
The UCP would "seek and support energy companies that are willing to challenge the campaign of defamation," Kenney said.
"We will ask the energy industry itself to significantly increase its advocacy and education efforts."
The plan would create $10-million litigation fund to support pro-development First Nations "in defending their right to be consulted on major energy projects."
Kenney would also challenge the charitable status of special interest groups and end provincial funding of groups he sees as a threat to the province's energy industry, such as the Alberta-based Pembina Institute, a non-profit think tank.
The province would launch a public inquiry, with an initial budget of $2.5 million, to investigate "foreign sources of funds fueling the anti-Alberta energy campaign," he said.
Under the plan, the province would also:
- Boycott multinationals that boycott Alberta's energy sector;
- Work with like-minded allies to challenge the campaign against Alberta oil, by demanding their investment criteria include assessment of factors such as environment, human rights, labor standards, treatment of women and political stability;
- Ban foreign money from funding political action committees in Alberta, and;
- Urge the Canadian government to ban foreign money from federal politics.
Kenney has long pledged to cut off the foreign money he has said is being spent by "anti-Alberta" groups.
In May, he vowed to set up a "fully staffed, rapid response war room" within government to defend the resource sector and, "effectively rebut every lie told by the green left."
He also said a UCP government would use the courts to force the federal government to strip groups such as Tides Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation of their charitable status.