Alberta Inquiry delivers Final Report to Government of Alberta
July 30, 2021
Alberta Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan delivered his Final Report today on the public inquiry into anti-Alberta energy campaigns to Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage.
The report contains more than 600 pages, including recommendations, and attaches a Deloitte Forensic Report on foreign and government funding and supporting evidence. Under the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, the Minister has 90 days within which to review the report before releasing it to the public. The Inquiry’s primary focus is to provide a forensic accounting of foreign funding directed towards the frustration of the development of the oil and gas industry in Alberta.
“This Inquiry has been a challenging and intriguing assignment that has revealed important issues of which the government and Albertans should be aware. I hope that this report will provide a lens into these issues and the related public policy implications, and that it will not only stimulate dialogue, but more importantly, that it will set a foundation for meaningful, collaborative and constructive action by a cross-section of stakeholders,” Commissioner Steve Allan said.
“My hope is that the government, industry, business and economic development associations, public policy organizations, environmental organizations, academics and others will move these recommendations forward. I look forward to the opportunity to remain involved in working to further consider, and potentially assist in the implementation of the recommendations offered in the Final Report, arising from the Inquiry’s findings. I see these issues and public policy development as being critical to the prosperity of Albertans, now and into the future,” Allan said.
Gathered a wide spectrum of perspectives
“From the start of the Inquiry in July 2019, I sought to gather a variety of views on the multitude of complex issues covered by the Terms of Reference. I welcomed public submissions via the Inquiry website, and commissioned reports. Over the past two years, I have conducted more than 100 interviews with academics, researchers, industry officials, environmentalists, not-for-profit organizations and members of Indigenous communities. The Inquiry team and I undertook extensive open-source research of more than 200,000 documents, including websites, tax returns, regulatory filings, strategy documents and public accounts that included voluminous records of charitable grants, tax filings and public records of organizations,” Allan said.
“During the first phase of the Inquiry’s formal Engagement Process, I invited 47 individuals and organizations to be Participants for Commentary, to provide input on matters before the Inquiry, including commissioned reports, books and research papers. During the second stage of the Engagement Process, I invited about 40 Participants for Response to review, confidentially, some of the evidence, and portions of the Inquiry’s draft preliminary observations, analysis, and potential findings of the Inquiry on a secure Inquiry database. I have reviewed and considered the Participants’ input in concluding my Final Report,” Allan said.
Written inquiry process deemed most efficient and effective
The Inquiry was conducted primarily as a written process. Public hearings associated with public inquiries are both costly and lengthy. Therefore, the Commissioner determined that given the nature and focus of the Inquiry, and the budget available, the Inquiry would not be best served by holding public hearings, which would have resulted in an elongated process well beyond the resources afforded the Inquiry.
“To address these concerns, I adopted what could be described as a hearing-by-correspondence process. After an initial period where the Inquiry invited submissions from the public, further engagement and commentary was requested from those thought to have an important perspective to share with the Inquiry,” Allan said.
“Separately, I created a process that afforded Participants for Response, as defined by the Inquiry’s Rules of Procedure and Practice, who might potentially be affected or impacted by a finding made by the Inquiry, an opportunity to respond to such findings. This was an important step to ensure that principles of procedural fairness were observed, and parties had an opportunity to respond to potential findings the Inquiry may make,” Allan said.
“There has been plenty of public debate and commentary on this Inquiry, and given the legal nature of public inquiries, I have remained focused on completing this assignment in a thorough, professional, comprehensive and credible manner. It has not been my place to advocate for this assignment or provide comment beyond the legal proceedings of the Inquiry. Rather, it has been my duty to complete the task. Throughout this process, I have endeavoured to hear from and report on the multitude of views on these matters.
“When my Final Report is made public, I believe Albertans will gain a new understanding of how foreign funding has played an influential role in public policy and political discourse. It is my firm belief that it is up to Albertans alone to determine how they wish to see their public policy and political will realized, unfettered by the influence of foreign monies.
“I welcome an opportunity to meet with Minister Savage and the Alberta Government about my findings and look forward to sharing the Final Report and my findings with Albertans” Allan said.
Commissioner Steve Allan
Statement on Alberta Inquiry Participants for Response
July 21, 2021
The Alberta Inquiry sent about 40 invitations to Participants for Response on June 18, 2021, with a deadline for response of July 16, 2021. Several responses were received from Participants by July 16, 2021. Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan welcomes the responses, is reviewing them and is considering the submissions in his work. The Dataroom established for the Participants for Response process remains open. The Commissioner has accepted submissions from parties throughout the Inquiry on a variety of matters. The Commissioner plans to address the Participants for Response phase of the Inquiry, and the issues raised by Participants, in his Final Report. The Inquiry schedule is unchanged.
For reasons unknown to the Inquiry, some Participants did not accept the Commissioner’s invitation until some weeks after June 18, and they were then granted access to the Dataroom to review content.
The material provided to each party for review included material necessary to understand the context surrounding potential findings and contained potential findings related to them, which was generally obtained from information published by them, or statements they made – information that generally would be familiar to them. The objective of the Participants for Response process was to provide an opportunity to respond to this information and advise as to any inaccuracies. The Participants were informed that the Inquiry retained Deloitte Forensic to review the matter of foreign and government funding in accordance with the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. Deloitte’s report was available to Participants in the response phase and will be included in the Commissioner’s Final Report.
With respect to questions about the Inquiry commenting on specific entities and content that Participants were asked to review, it is important to recall what the Inquiry said in its June 18, 2021 statement regarding the Participants for Response, which is here. https://albertainquiry.ca/news
In that statement, the Inquiry said:
“The Notice informed Participants that the materials made available to them are provided on the basis that they are confidential, are not to be disclosed and may only be used for the purposes of the Inquiry unless and until they become part of the public record. Release of the materials prior to their inclusion, if at all, in the Final Report may result in prejudice or harm to parties who may not be subject to a finding in the Final Report.”
Given that the content was provided to the Participants on a confidential basis, the Inquiry is not able to comment on specific content or individual entities.
The material provided to Participants for Response has been provided on a confidential basis to ensure fairness and avoid publicly naming any entity or publicizing any potential findings that may impact on an entity’s representation. Indeed, no findings have yet been made and the material provided represents only potential findings. The Inquiry will not make any findings until after it has the opportunity to consider responses received in the Participant for Response process and issues its Final Report.
While some voices commenting on the Inquiry have again raised the question of the status of climate, it is important to underscore what the Inquiry said in January 2020:
“To be clear, the Commissioner does not consider the science of climate change to be part of his mandate under the TOR (Terms of Reference), and he does not intend to make any findings of fact respecting climate science in his Final Report.”
Also, there has been some public misinterpretation of the term anti-Alberta, at times incorrectly stated as “anti-Albertan”. As noted in the Commissioner’s Interpretation of the Terms of Reference, the term Alberta is a geographic modifier and the Commissioner does not consider it his mandate to inquire into whether opposition to oil and gas development in Alberta is “against Alberta” or its interests in some sense or whether support or opposition to oil and gas development in Alberta is pro- or anti- “Albertan”.
The Inquiry Framework, including the Engagement Process, was established in September 2020, and is consistent with the Public Inquiries Act and administrative law. The Framework included the Inquiry Rules for Procedure and Practice and the Commissioner’s Ruling on Interpretation of the Terms of Reference. In the Ruling on Interpretation, there is a thorough discussion of the term Anti-Alberta in sections 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Inquiry observers are encouraged to read the Commissioner’s interpretation of the term anti-Alberta. It is posted on the Inquiry website: https://albertainquiry.ca/ on the Engagement Process page. This is a direct link to the Interpretation. https://albertainquiry.ca/sites/default/files/2021-01/Ruling-on-Interpretation-091420-TOR-2.pdf
With respect to concerns expressed about other potential consequences, the Commissioner abhors threats of violence and harassment in any way related to the matters before the Inquiry, which is focused on foreign and government funding of “efforts to frustrate the development of Alberta’s oil and gas resources in a broad and general sense.”
The Commissioner is working to complete the Inquiry’s mandate and the Inquiry’s Final Report, including recommendations, in a balanced, reasoned, positive and constructive manner that supports a rational and meaningful dialogue of the matters before the Inquiry.
The report is in the final stages of completion, taking into account submissions from the various parties. The Commissioner will not be making any statements regarding findings related to any parties or any issues prior to the release of the report by the Minister, which must occur within 90 days of her receipt of the report. Some media organizations have asked about potential future legal action by various entities. The Commissioner will not speculate on legal actions that any party might take, but is prepared to defend his Final Report.
Alberta Public Inquiry sends notices to organizations asking for response on evidence and potential findings of foreign funding of energy campaigns
June 18, 2021
The Alberta Public Inquiry into foreign funding of anti-Alberta energy campaigns has begun to send Notices to organizations asking for their response to research materials, evidence and potential findings for the Inquiry’s Final Report. The evidence the Commissioner intends to rely on for potential findings has been researched and gathered from public sources of information such as websites, primarily published by the organizations, public statements by organization officials and public filings with regulatory authorities.
“As a key component in our Engagement Process and to ensure procedural fairness, initially about 40 organizations are being sent confidential Notices asking for their response to potential findings of the Inquiry that pertain specifically to each of them,” said Steve Allan, Commissioner of the Alberta Inquiry.
The formal Notices sent to individual organizations grants them standing as a Participant for Response, which is the second phase of the Inquiry Engagement Process. Participants for Response may include an individual, group, organization, society, government, agency, institution, body corporate or other entity.
“The potential findings, the related evidence and the material that will provide the context for considering a potential finding will be made accessible in a secure dataroom platform (the Dataroom). Any potential finding is based on this available information and I will not make any finding in respect of you until I have had an opportunity to consider and analyze any submissions you make in this process,” Allan said in the Notice letters.
Under Rule 22 of the Inquiry’s Rules for Procedure and Practice, organizations are entitled to make a written submission, not to exceed 15 pages without prior approval and file evidence, including by affidavit, which is also limited to no more than 15 pages. Submissions and evidence must be uploaded in the Dataroom no later than July 16, 2021, said the Commissioner’s letter.
The Notice informed Participants that the materials made available to them are provided on the basis that they are confidential, are not to be disclosed and may only be used for the purposes of the Inquiry unless and until they become part of the public record. Release of the materials prior to their inclusion, if at all, in the Final Report may result in prejudice or harm to parties who may not be subject to a finding in the Final Report.
The Inquiry Framework, containing the Ruling on Interpretation of the Terms of Reference and the Rules for Procedure and Practice, is posted on the Inquiry website www.albertainquiry.ca.
In July 2019, the Government of Alberta launched the Alberta inquiry, under the Public Inquiries Act, into the anti-Alberta energy campaigns that are supported by foreign organizations. Steve Allan, a Calgary forensic and restructuring accountant with 40 years of experience, was appointed as the Commissioner to lead the Inquiry.
Email: [email protected]
May 19, 2021
Alberta Minister of Energy Sonya Savage announced that the provincial Cabinet has granted an extension until July 30, 2021 for Alberta Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan to complete his work and file his final report with the Government of Alberta.
Statement by Alberta Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan on court ruling in judicial review of Alberta Inquiry
May 14, 2021
The Honourable Justice Karen Horner of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has upheld the legal foundation of the Alberta Inquiry, which is examining foreign funding of anti-Alberta energy campaigns. In a court hearing today, Justice Horner dismissed, in its entirety, the Ecojustice application to stop the Inquiry. Ecojustice had alleged that the Inquiry was instructed and convened for improper purpose, was not constitutional, and that the Inquiry’s conduct was subject to a reasonable apprehension of bias.
Justice Horner determined that the Ecojustice application failed on all three grounds, finding that the Inquiry is properly convened and directed, was not subject to a reasonable apprehension of bias and is constitutionally valid. She also observed that she had no doubt that Alberta Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan has the required qualifications and experience to conduct and finish the Inquiry with complete integrity.
“I welcome this affirmation and look forward to continuing the work of the Alberta Inquiry,” Commissioner Steve Allan said after hearing Justice Horner’s ruling.
Commissioner, Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns
Statement by Commissioner Steve Allan on Alberta Inquiry schedule.
January 29, 2021
The Alberta Inquiry has requested and received permission to extend the schedule for submitting its Final Report to Alberta’s Minister of Energy to May 31, 2021. We are pleased to have this extension as it allows us to complete the Participants for Response process, a fundamental component of the Inquiry established in the Rules of Procedure and Practice in September 2020. It has always been our intention to engage with persons who may be subject to a finding of misconduct or the subject of a materially adverse factual finding such that they be afforded an opportunity to respond. This extension allows us to undertake and complete the Inquiry’s processes in a timely and fair manner. The Inquiry has required and undertaken a thorough and detailed review of voluminous material covering a time frame of about 20 years, which has been made all the more complex by the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health advisories. Regrettably this has resulted in delays. Requests for extensions to the original schedules of public inquiries, regardless of the mandate, are not unusual. We are focused on completing this matter as expeditiously as possible. The Inquiry’s budget is unchanged at $3.5 million.
Commissioner, Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns
The Commissioner has made a ruling on the Application regarding the Package of Materials for Commentary
January 29, 2021
Participant for Commentary segment closed
January 13, 2021
The Inquiry has closed its consideration of applications for standing as a Participant for Commentary as of January 29, 2021. Once all responses from Participants for Commentary are received, the Inquiry will assess the contributions contained in the responses, and may decide to release some or all of the responses into the public record.