Alberta launches Indigenous Litigation Fund to advance oil and gas

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks on August 7, 2019. Image: Government of Alberta

Alberta’s UCP government marked its first 100 days in office on Wednesday with the launch of a new litigation fund to “stand up for Indigenous peoples’ prosperity.”

Through the $10-million Indigenous Litigation Fund, the province is offering grants for groups, coalitions, privately funded societies or alliances that include Indigenous membership in legal actions that support Alberta’s natural resources development.

This includes oil, natural gas, pipeline proposals and forestry.

The province says funding can be used to support a variety of legal actions including researching positions, developing motions, participating in trials and appeals, or intervening in processes and legal actions.

A review committee will recommend grant applications project-by-project for approval by the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Alberta cabinet.

In a statement, Premier Jason Kenney said the fund is a component of Alberta’s fight-back strategy “to stand up against the foreign-funded special interests landlocking Alberta energy.”

This also includes the $1-billion Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation, which was announced in June.

The province says litigation fund applicants will have to demonstrate how their projects improve Alberta’s interests by:

  • supporting Indigenous people in Alberta as they voice their interest in responsible resource development that benefits their communities and increases their participation in Alberta’s economy
  • supporting efficient, safe, orderly and responsible development of Alberta’s natural resources and increased market access for our natural resources
  • creating fair and effective policies, legislation and market systems that support development and export of Alberta’s natural resources

Kenney said that “Indigenous peoples who favour energy development are often left out of the conversation, and this fund will help defend their right to be consulted on major projects and ensure their voices are heard too.”

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