Last week Albertans received the fruits of the Kenney Government’s inquiry into foreign-funded “anti-Alberta” activities targeting the oil and gas industry. The $3.5 million report, a year late and a million dollars over budget, found no evidence of illegal activities or wrongdoing on the part of any individual or organization targeted by the Inquiry.
When Premier Kenney launched this inquiry and his $30 million “war room,” he claimed there was a campaign of “lies and disinformation” conducted by “foreign-funded radicals” that was limiting the expansion of Alberta’s oil and gas industry, costing jobs and resulting in growth in oil demand being met by suppliers with low environmental standards.
The report found no evidence of illegal activities or wrongdoing.
The press conference revealed the true intent behind the ill-conceived inquiry: to redirect and focus the understandable anger, fear and frustration of oil patch workers and other Albertans towards environmental groups and away from the Alberta government’s mismanagement of the province’s most valuable non-renewable resource.
According to statistics from the Alberta government and the Canada Energy Regulator, Alberta’s output of oil and gas was at an all time high in 2019 when Premier Kenney launched the inquiry and the war room. Production of oil and gas in Alberta has grown 42 per cent since 2000 and production of upgraded oil sands has more than tripled and production of non-upgraded oil sands has increased more than six-fold.
Albertans are selling more oil and gas and getting less for it.
What about jobs? With production at an all time high, direct employment in the oil and gas industry in Alberta has declined by 20 per cent as of 2019 since peaking in 2014. The average productivity of an oil and gas employee (measured by oil and gas production) has increased by 50 per cent in the industry overall since 2011, by 70 per cent in the oil sands and by 37 per cent in conventional oil and gas. This is a result of further automation and efficiencies implemented by companies which reduced the number of employees needed, not conspiracies by “foreign-funded radicals” imagined by the Alberta government. In other words, those jobs are not coming back.
Although spending $3.5 million on this inquiry and $30 million per year on the war room may seem like an excessive waste of money, it is dwarfed by the $1.3 billion of taxpayers’ money the Kenney Government lost supporting the Keystone XL pipeline which was cancelled by President Biden.
Those jobs are not coming back.
Albertans deserve much better.
This article was originally published in the Edmonton Journal.