It was created to dispel misinformation about Canada’s oil and gas sector, but now the future of the so-called “Energy War Room” is up in the air. 

On Tuesday, the United Conservative (UCP) government announced that the Canadian Energy Centre is being retooled and brought in-house directly under Premier Danielle Smith's office. 

“The Canadian Energy Centre is an important advocate for Canada and Alberta’s long-term position as a safe, clean and responsible energy supplier,” the province’s Energy Ministry said in a statement. 

“(But) after careful consideration, we will be integrating the mandate of the (centre) into Intergovernmental Relations." 

The statement said the centre's assets, intellectual property, and researchers will be moved over to the intergovernmental relations office. The branding and website will remain the same with most of the agency’s budget devoted to advertising.

However, the Opposition NDP doesn’t believe the Canadian Energy Centre is being moved but rather, it’s shutting down. 

In an interview with Okotoks/High River Online, Calgary-Mountain View MLA and NDP leadership hopeful Kathleen Ganley said the war room was designed to evade Freedom of Information laws, but now that it's being moved in-house, it can no longer fulfil that purpose. 

“It's not like it's doing anything that's in the public interest,” she said. “They may say that they're moving the mandate into government, but since it wasn't actually doing anything, there's nothing to really move.” 

When asked what her reaction was to the news, Ganley said she wasn’t surprised but rather thrilled. 

“This is an entity that wasn't designed to further the interest of Albertans. It was designed to further the interest of sort of a fringe minority of Albertans who want to attack our fellow Canadians,” she said. “Why are we wasting $30 million a year in this non-transparent way to achieve nothing that anyone can see except maybe popularizing the children's cartoon?” 

That cartoon she referenced was the Netflix animated movie “Bigfoot Family,” which featured talking animals and a domesticated Sasquatch battling an oil magnate determined to blow up an Alaskan wildlife preserve to gain easy access to petroleum. 

The UCP claimed the movie was “brainwashing our kids with anti-oil and gas propaganda.” 

The debate spilled onto the floor of the legislature, with the Opposition accusing then-Premier Jason Kenney of turning Alberta into a laughingstock, which Kenney refuted, saying that they were setting the record straight. 

Despite the actions of the government at the time, the film grew in popularity with more viewers catapulting it to the Top 10 for Kids and Family Movies.

While the future of the Canadian Energy Centre is up in the air, the UCP says the fight to promote and protect Alberta’s oil and gas resources continues. 

“In a time when the federal government is attempting to make the promotion of Alberta’s energy industry illegal, and passing policy that will cripple Canada’s largest industry employing hundreds of thousands of Canadians by implementing an emissions cap, it is more important than ever that Alberta has a strong advocate,” the Office of the Energy Minister said in an emailed statement. “The Government of Alberta will continue our fight to promote the energy sector.”

Ganley and the rest of the Alberta NDP Caucus say they want the money that funded the Canadian Energy Centre to be put toward essential projects such as hospitals and schools, which they say are vastly underfunded.

On top of that, she hopes this will reignite the conversation toward diversifying the energy sector and tackling climate change, something she said the war room never did.

“One of the functions of the war room was to create this ‘either you are for us or against us' narrative. 'Either you care about climate change, or you care about economic growth, either you like oil and gas or you like renewables,' and that's just not true. It's never been true.” 

She used the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States as an example of a policy that is acting on climate change while creating jobs at the same time. She’s hopeful the government can promote a similar policy in Alberta. 

-With files from The Canadian Press