Drawing from Despots
How Alberta is Using Tactics Borrowed From Russia, Kuwait and Others to Try to Silence Opposition to Oil and Gas Expansion
This report shows how the tactics employed by the Alberta Government to harass, silence and intimidate critics of the oil industry are similar to those used in autocratic regimes such as Russia, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
The report outlines three main tactics employed in Alberta that are common to the “petro-state playbook”:
The Alberta government’s repeated false claims that opponents of the province’s oil and gas industry are working on behalf of foreign interests, is a common tactic used in other countries to dismiss opponents and cast aspersions on their motivations. Russia, for example, also dismisses critics as “foreign agents.” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro attempts to delegitimize critics by accusing them of conspiring with foreign governments, and in Iran, environmentalists have been jailed and accused of espionage.
Premier Kenney’s threats to revoke the charitable status of NGOs is also a common petro-state tactic. Like the inquiry into “UnAlbertan activities,” Russia passed an “Undesirable Organizations Law” that gives the government powers to penalize dissenting organizations. And Saudi Arabia denies operating licenses to new organizations that confront government policy and disbands any that are deemed to be “harming national unity.”
Alberta’s recent move to intimidate and criminalize protest against fossil fuels projects is also a petro-state favourite, though this tactic is employed in democratic countries as well. Nine U.S. states have passed laws criminalizing protest in a similar fashion to what has been done in Alberta, and eight others are considering similar legislation. Alberta’s legislation bears a strong resemblance to model legislation drafted by the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a powerful industry lobby group.