Alberta’s ‘Energy War Room’ Now Wants to ‘Influence’ US, New Documents Show

A shady oil propaganda organization that's funded by the government of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, left, has just registered as a "foreign agent" in the U.S.

A shady oil propaganda group that is funded by the federal government of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, proper, has simply registered as a “foreign agent” within the U.S. Photos by Getty Images/CP

An group that spreads propaganda on behalf of the Alberta authorities has registered as a “foreign agent” within the U.S. in order that it could actually “influence American public opinion” amid the Ukraine disaster in favor of importing extra Canadian oil, in response to paperwork seen by VICE News.

The paperwork have been filed earlier this month with the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Canadian Energy Centre, also called the “energy war room,” which is funded by the Alberta authorities and has a board of administrators composed of three provincial cupboard ministers.

The Canadian Energy Centre says within the paperwork, required below the Foreign Agents Registration Act, that it’s working with public relations firm DDB Canada on “political activity” within the U.S. The aim of this exercise is to “influence American public opinion with respect to the Canadian oil and gas industry.” It says that promoting “materials will be disseminated to the general public” to attain this aim. 

The irony is that the Alberta authorities has spent years attempting to delegitimize its environmental critics as belonging to “foreign-funded misinformation campaigns” that disguise their true pursuits from the general public. 

“They have so heavily criticized any form of foreign engagement or influence,” Tzeporah Berman, worldwide program director on the environmental group, informed VICE News. “This push in the U.S. shows how hypocritical they are.”

Alberta is residence to the third-biggest confirmed oil reserves on the planet, making Canada the biggest overseas provider of oil to the U.S. But Alberta’s oil sands business has been criticized by President Joe Biden and different U.S. Democratic policymakers together with Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib for its heavy environmental impacts

With the Biden administration banning Russian oil within the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Canadian Energy Centre is now arguing that the U.S. ought to import extra oil from Alberta as an alternative. 

“Russia changed the global energy conversation,” reads a current print commercial within the Washington Post paid for by the centre. “If not Canada, who are you are entrusting your country’s energy security to?”

An accompanying web site urges folks to observe a Facebook web page known as “Friendly Energy.” But neither the advert, the web site, nor the Facebook web page identifies the Canadian Energy Centre as a corporation arrange, funded, and ruled by the United Conservative Party authorities of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. 

“It is an Alberta government propaganda office meant to spread pro-oil industry propaganda while disguising the source of the propaganda,” Drew Yewchuk, a lawyer with the University of Calgary’s Public Interest Law Clinic, informed VICE News. 

But lots of its campaigns have backfired. Last 12 months, the conflict room was ridiculed for attacking a Netflix kids’s movie known as Bigfoot Family that it mentioned was “brainwashing our kids” with pro-environmental messages. In 2020, it apologized for tweets alleging antisemitism on the New York Times after the outlet ran an article about monetary threats to the oil sands. 

The present promoting supplies for the U.S. have been created by DDB Canada, which is owned by Omnicom, a worldwide public relations agency that has known as local weather change “the biggest existentialist crisis in living memory.” Neither DDB Canada nor Omnicom responded to requests for remark. 

The subject of “foreign organizations” criticizing the oil sands is extraordinarily sensitive for the Alberta authorities. It even spent $3.5 million on an inquiry into whether or not environmental teams secretly funded by Americans have “disseminated incomplete, misleading, or false information about the Alberta oil and gas industry” with the intention to “influence matters of public interest to Albertans and Canadians.” That inquiry discovered no proof of wrongdoing.

But the Canadian Energy Centre thinks overseas affect is completely superb so long as it’s the one doing the influencing. “Every dollar we spend is accounted for by Alberta’s Office of the Auditor General,” the centre’s CEO Tom Olsen wrote in an electronic mail to VICE News. “Anti-oil and gas groups aren’t subject to the same.” 

Olsen mentioned the Alberta authorities’s U.S. marketing campaign is having an impression. “You might be interested to know that billboards we put up in Washington, D.C., and New York City reached 12 million people,” he wrote. 

Yet any try to extend oil sands imports to the U.S. is more likely to run into opposition. In current years, there have been campaigns to dam pipelines from Canada in Michigan, Minnesota, and Maine. Biden rejected the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in workplace. 

“So many times the American public has rejected tar sands,” Duncan Meisel, marketing campaign director of the local weather group Clean Creatives, informed VICE News. “And the Alberta government just won’t give up.”

Follow Geoff Dembicki on Twitter.

Correction: An earlier model of this story misspelled Drew Yewchuk’s title. 

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