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article imageAmnesty International condemns Alberta's 'fight-back' strategy

By Karen Graham     Sep 11, 2019 in Politics
Global human rights organization Amnesty International condemned the Alberta government’s “fight back” strategy Tuesday, warning Alberta Premier Jason Kenney that his government’s fight against oil and gas industry foes puts human rights at risk.
In early July, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that the government will spend $2.5 million on a year-long public inquiry into what he described as a foreign-funded defamation campaign by environmental groups against Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
Kenney claimed foreign benefactors have been bankrolling Canadian environmental groups that are "hell-bent on keeping Canada's oilsands" production from growing, To that end, the provincial government set up a $2.,5 million fund for an independent inquiry into the premier's allegations.
They even set up a website - AlbertaInquiry.ca — where people are encouraged to submit information. The government is looking into allegations that foreign interests like the Tides Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers’ Fund are funding environmental groups.
About the biggest threat to be seen from Kenney's actions has been a vocal cry from critics calling the initiative nothing more than a "witch-hunt," destined to fuel divisiveness on social media and the government silencing environmental groups from speaking out against the oil and gas industry.
An open letter from Amnesty International
On Tuesday, in an open letter, Amnesty International Secretary-General Alex Neve urged the United Conservative government to end plans for both the public inquiry into the funding issue and the energy "war room."
"Amnesty International is deeply concerned that these initiatives undermine and violate a range of Alberta's human rights obligations, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, the rights of Indigenous peoples and gender equality," Neve wrote.
Jason Kenney
Jason Kenney
Michael Swan (CC BY-ND 2.0)
"Amnesty International is also gravely concerned that these initiatives, and the rhetoric surrounding them, feeds into a worsening climate of hostility toward human rights defenders – particularly Indigenous, women, and environmental human rights defenders – exposing them to intimidation and threats, including threats of violence."
And under international law, "groups have the right to work together on social and environmental issues such as climate change — and that includes seeking and receiving funding to do so," Neve said, reports the Global News.
Kenney told CBC Canada what he thought of the letter before he was to make a speech in Fort McMurray on Tuesday, saying the letter was "beyond ridiculous" and he would "absolutely not" abandon the two initiatives. After all, the whole initiative is part of his party's election platform.
Amnesty International is a non-profit based in London, but has offices all over the world, including Canada, and advocates in human rights cases.
More about Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney, Amnesty international, Human rights violation, "war room"
 
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