NDP Appoints Foreign-Funded Activist to Regulate Alberta Oil and Gas

Albertans have not forgotten the NDP’s 2016 infamous appointment of environmental activist Tzeporah Berman as co-chair of the Government’s Oil Sands Advisory Group. To date, the Premier has never expressed regret for appointing a virulent opponent of Alberta’s oil & gas industry to such an important government body. But it also appears that the NDP has not learned a lesson.

On February 12, 2019, NDP Energy Marg McCuaig-Boyd Boyd quietly appointed former Pembina Institute Executive Director Ed Whittingham to the board of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). Mr. Whittingham served as Pembina’s executive director January 2011 to June 2017. Prior to that, Mr. Whittingham served as Pembina’s Director of Consulting.

Pembina was an early participant of the American organized ‘Tar Sands Campaign’ that aims to landlock Alberta’s resources. It’s apparent that that work continued under Mr. Whittingham’s leadership.

According to extensive documents obtained by independent researcher Vivian Krause, Pembina was the recipient of well over $2 million in US foundation funding during Whittingham’s leadership period (2011-2017). From grant descriptions provided by the US-based foundations themselves, nearly all the funds were provided specifically to target the oil sands, pipelines, and/or “dirty fuels.

Mr. Whittingham has publicly defended taking foreign funds on numerous occasions, telling the National Post, “I don't care where the money comes from." (National Post, December 9, 2011)

It’s outrageous that the NDP Government would appoint a foreign-funded, anti-oil sands, anti-pipeline activist like Mr. Whittingham to such an important government body,” said United Conservative House Leader and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre re-election candidate Jason Nixon. “The Premier and her government have never expressed any regret for the disastrous 2016 appointment of Tzeporah Berman. Mr. Whittingham’s appointment once again demonstrates the NDP’s hostile views towards Alberta’s oil and gas industry – despite public claims that they have changed.”

In May 2011, Mr. Whittingham personally travelled to Washington, D.C. to lobby the Obama Administration to reject Keystone XL. Later in September 2015, Mr. Whittingham publicly pushed for the very regulatory changes that the Trudeau Liberals would later use to kill Energy East: “The National Energy Board’s evaluation should take the pipeline’s cumulative impacts into account.”

It’s not hard to speculate how much better our province’s economic state would be today if the activists’ pressure campaign for the US President to block Keystone XL did not succeed, nor how better off our country could be if Energy East did not die in 2017,” said Nixon. “I wish I could say I was shocked that the NDP would appoint such an individual to the AER. But for those of us who have followed the NDP’s long history of anti-oil, anti-pipeline activism, this latest appointment is perfectly consistent with the NDP’s history.

Lastly, I’d like to commend Vivian Krause for her invaluable work in exposing the foreign-funded campaign to attack our oil & gas industry, including exposing the NDP’s latest appointee,” concluded Nixon.