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Investigation claims B.C.’s climate plan was influenced by oil and gas industry

(AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) for B.C., documents obtained through Freedom of Information Requests reveal just how closely the oil and gas industry worked with the BC Liberals in putting together the province’s climate leadership plan.

“What we’ve uncovered here is quite a shocking case of the fox being invited to guard the hen house,” said Shannon Taub, B.C. CCPA’s associate director.

LISTEN: Jon McComb talks to CCPA BC’s associate director about the FOI investigation
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In May of 2015, the province appointed a climate leadership team, which included representatives from First Nations, environmental groups, municipal governments, academics, etc. The purpose of the team was to come up with recommendations to shape B.C.’s new climate plan.

But the CCPA says the new information shows what actually happened after the team met.

“At the time Christy Clark, the premier, went off to Paris waving the climate leadership team’s recommendations, pointing to B.C.’s role as a climate leader,” said Taub.

READ MORE: B.C. keeps freeze on carbon tax in climate plan

“But what we’ve learned from these documents is that at that very time senior government officials were sitting down with oil and gas industry representatives to come up with what would turn out to be the real climate plan.”

Taub said the meetings took place in Calgary, inside the boardroom of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers – a well-known fossil fuel lobby group.

“What we see from these documents is that a group of senior government officials, deputy ministers, and others, actually seek camping to another province to meet with the who’s who, over two dozen representatives of major oil and gas corporations.”

WATCH: Liberal Government unveils ‘Climate Action Plan’

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She said this may very well be unprecedented.

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“If Albertans were to find out that their energy policy was being crafted in Vancouver, say in the boardroom of an environmental NGO, all hell would break loose.”

She said this shows a dangerous blurring of the lines between government and industry.

READ MORE: B.C. can help other countries lower emissions: Christy Clark

The B.C. CCPA also found that the fossil fuel industry donated $4-million to the Liberals in recent years and lobbied provincial officials more than 22,000 times in a six-year period.

“The remarkable thing, in this case, is that the meetings that were held in Calgary actually don’t even have to be counted and reported as lobbying because under B.C.’s rules, if the government invites a stakeholder in for consultation or meetings, those meetings don’t have to be reported those meetings aren’t considered lobbying,” said Taub.

WATCH: BC aims to play bigger role in fight against climate change

But she said consultation should be public and transparent.

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“The documents that we obtained actually show that industry was asked to revise and re-write those recommendations.”

Taub said the recommendations first presented by the leadership team were basically shaped by the interests of the industry ignoring the public body made to represent various stakeholders.

WATCH: B.C.’s Climate Leadership Team

But Interim Opposition Leader Rich Coleman says the government was holding consultations.

“Prior to BC’s Climate Leadership Plan release, consultations occurred with a number of stakeholders – which is appropriate,” said Coleman in an email to CKNW.

He said those consultations “ensured that the new programs and policies would meet B.C.’s greenhouse gas reduction targets while maintaining strong economic growth and successfully implementing the BC Jobs Plan, including the liquefied natural gas strategy.”

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He said the meetings took place in Calgary because it was the “most convenient and efficient location.”

The newsroom has reached to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers for comment.

 

~With files from Jon McComb